Friday, September 23, 2016

the Friday Misery is feeling Grovey

Huge win on the road thanks to a 4th down throw from a freshman quarterback to improve to 3-0 on the season and then the veins start to do whatever the opposite of the word “constrict” is plus you got a good night’s sleep because the pillow was just right and you didn’t wake up in a sweat from a nightmare having something to do with orange checkerboard hillbillied animated overalls chasing you down Sanford Drive in a Prius with a funnel...because that’s next week.

So yeh, feeling pretty okay and more than alright this week.

Which is why I’m not going to try and get you mad and fired up and upset and ready to punch that poor bastard in the cubicle next to you. Just pull this Misery up on your cellular phone (except you there with the flip phone, yeh, you’re going to need to renew your AOL account, dial up that modem and squint at your monochrome IBM CRT green screen...sorry…), put your feet up, and breathe deep.
Eight inches, yes. But floppy.

Riding the bench
I’m not heading to Oxford this weekend. First time in three games I’ve missed a trip there. So I’ve been reminding myself of what I said during my first trip there in 2006, which was that we’d never miss another trip to Oxford MS and The Grove.

Oh welp.

My buddy Nama twisted my arm into going back in '06 and despite a hangover for the record books on Saturday morning, it turned out to be quite a memorable experience.

Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t want to tailgate in The Grove every weekend. Maybe it’s the claustrophobic in me with all those thousands and thousands of people gathered together within a couple square miles. I much prefer Athens because, well, it’s home.

But when the SEC road schedule shines on you with a trip to Oxford, you can’t do much better than a Hotty Toddy Saturday.

And I’ve had the pleasure of both a late kick in Oxford as well as an 11AM local kick. So to keep us nice and relaxed, here’s what I can remember from both experiences.

Sundresses, Bud Light, and chandeliers
Having been goaded into a trip through Memphis to see the Dawgs play the Rebels (kids, this is what Ole Miss athletic teams used to be referred to before General Political Correctness marched through Oxford and stuck a Bear or something or whatever on a flag and all the local t-shirts and koozies), I had the hangoverest of headaches after a Friday night on Beale Street. Tennessee fans had invaded Memphis that evening to prepare for a game against Memphis State. I remember making fun of some of those inbreds at a nearby table as Nama and I drained flights and flights (and also some more flights) of beer.

We were likely speaking too loudly. Or maybe not loud enough. Probably the latter. But since neither of us were in any shape to throw a punch, probably good that we were seen more than we were heard.

A stop in Tunica for some gambling on the way down was the early plan. It was a 7pm kick I believe and I remember the other guys we were riding with were surprised we planned to leave Memphis by 9am. To Nama and I, hangover or not, that seemed rather late. I tried to sleep on the drive down but when we arrived I couldn’t add to 21 consistently if my life depending  on it, so I headed straight for the buffet and wished Nama good luck. After a couple hours of eating potatoes and gingerly sipping cold, cold water I desperately...desperately needed a beer.

We parked in Oxford and the campus was already starting to buzz. We could see Vaught-Hemingway in the distance and a parking attendant told us to “wait down yonder and a courtesy van would take us on up to The Grove”. The four of us got in and waited to depart.

Wolf pack in search of a chandelier.
Now, mind you, three of us are happily married and the other guy is engaged to be bethrothed. That’s important because of what I’m about to type into the screen that you’re looking into right now.

The driver returns to the door and asks us to scoot over some because there’s some more people about to get in. I turn around to look and there are 20+ (TWENTY!! PLUS!) coeds in sundresses about to pile into this courtesy van all around and over and on top of us.

It’s 2006. Which is also important because of what I’m about to type into your eye sockets. “No one will ever believe this happened,” I said to Nama as yet another AOPi sat in my lap. “None of us has a camera.”

Not even four months later Steve Jobs introduced an eye phone to the consumer public. It had a camera inside of it and it fit into your shorts pocket. Sonofabitch!

The driver was frustratingly reluctant to just keep driving us around campus all afternoon, a suggestion the four of us thought was prudent not to mention extremely accommodating, so as the ladies all climbed out they said to “be sure and come by the AOPi tent when you get to The Grove y’all. It’s the one with the chandelier.”

Seemed easy enough, until we stood at The Grove’s precipice and roughly 48% of the tents had chandeliers. We travelled around and if there were 1200 individual tailgates going on in that place, we were invited into all but about 200 of them. You can’t find a more genuinely accommodating crowd. I mentioned how nice Missouri fans were on our trip in 2012. This is different. It’s Southern Hospitality at its finest. It's P's and also Q's. It's manners ever so delicately intertwined with SEC competitiveness.

Plus, they talk like us, but with 100% more mentions of Mannings.

For instance, standing in line for the Port-O-Johns, Nama just happened to mention that we needed another beer. A kid overheard and told us to wait right there. He quite literally dove back into The Grove and emerged with two cold Bud Lights. It was as beautiful as it was absolutely magical. I couldn't help but look around for cameras, just sure that we were suddenly in a commercial.

We did find the AOPi’s again. They were super excited to see us again. Which is to say that they pretended to remember us and didn't fully ignore us. Then Charles Johnson whooped some rebel ass and on the car ride back to Memphis while stuck in traffic I managed to con my way onto the local post game talk show. I think I was about halfway through my Munson impression when they suddenly broke to commercial.

Great day. Great game. I swore we’d always go back.

Curb appeal
Five years later we let the wives come along. And by we let them I mean that they graciously accepted our invitation. This time we went through Tupelo and there were no hangovers to start out Saturday. After all, even though we’d gained an hour somewhere along I-20, we knew we’d need that and more to make kickoff at 11am.

Eleven! AM!

We got there early enough to tailgate some and soak in as much of The Grove as time would allow. It was definitely abbreviated but we got our bellies full and quenched our thirst. I can’t find a picture of it, but at the end of our row in the stadium was about 30 miniature Makers bottles, only a couple of which were ours. It was like a empty bourbon bottle depository.

It was another good game that saw the Dawgs victorious. Looked like we’d run away with it at the start, but ended up holding on at the end. As we were leaving we happened upon a young lady sitting calmly next to what looked like an unconscious fraternity pledge lying prostrate on a sidewalk, using the curb as a pillow. It appeared as if he'd gone twelve rounds with The Grove and lost by unanimous decision. He also appeared to be about five months removed from his high school Spanish class where he had learned to Siesta in the absolute worst of ways.

Is he alright honey?”, the wife asked.
Oh yes ma’am. He just needed a nap.”

That’s the way things go in Oxford. The Rebels (or whatever) don’t always win games, but their fans attack the tailgating scene like a drunken covered dish church hoard hellbent and armed to the nines with deviled eggs, fried chicken, and enough alcohol to survive two and half more Prohibitions.

Seriously, if Nucky Thompson were Southern, he’d’ve used The Grove as his main distribution hub.

Hotty Toddy now go buy yourself a personality.

freezer burned out
With those pleasantries out of the way…

Screw the rebs. Once purchased amateur players admit to as much on a national stage and Dr. Hugh gets nothing but a face full of nfl draft pie. He licks it off, grins, and then slips another five star a benji.

Then he winks. Cuz that's what bullshitters do when they're not bullshitting. They wink, surreptitiously.

Those rebel has beens are going to come out stark raving mad in their pretty blue uniforms. Their backs are against the wall after Kiffin pulled their drawers down in front of Uncle Verne last week and then swiped right on his Joey Freshwater tinder account. How brazen, right? Anyway, in 180 minutes of game time so far the Rebel Bears have only played just north of ninety. They’re embarrassed, pissed, and can’t seem to Shout Out  the super awkwardly soiled stain from their britches.

Case in point, Chad Kelly. This pampered bitch brat spends all week shot-gunning beer and serenading sororities with Nickelback karaoke blaring from his circa 1985 boom box that his uncle Jim handed down to him when he was a pimple-faced 8th grader.
Douche. First rate. Douche.

I hope Trenton Thompson eats his goddamn lunch brunch. I hope Bellamy buries his helmet in Captain Craptastic’s middle back and Lorenzo scoops and scores his second touchdown of the season. Kickoff’s at 11:00am, I hope they’ve surrendered by Noon. I hope they turn tail and walk back into the locker room, tv cuts to commercial, and then all of the rabid Dawg fans get to go back to the tailgates and finish what they started.

Then, Kirby sends his team to the bus before waltzing into Freeze’s office. The Georgia coach pulls out a clean Gillette, and shaves his week old beard right over the Ol’ Missy coach’s desk.

And stay the hell out of Georgia, asshole.” Then throws a slightly bloody towel on the floor and disappears into the eastern sun.

Now, please bow your heads...Dear Lord, I just gotta see some sacks something awful. Please. PLEASE let them big Dawgs EAT! In the name of Admiral Akbar, may he rest in peace. Amen.

Now, go Dawgs y'all!