Embrace Your Final Tailgate Season In College

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It’s 6:45 a.m. and I wake up with an eye-throbbing headache as a repeating melody singes my trembling eardrums. I contemplate falling back asleep before realizing I’m in a foreign room, trapped in a cougar’s lair after a successful Patrón-fueled hunt. I turn to my right, see what has to be a thirty-year-old woman happily asleep and fully nude, prompting thoughts of waking her up and proposing an early morning quickie. But then I see it: her sparkling ring finger. The woman didn’t even bother to take it off, I didn’t bother to care. She’s a fucking savage. With the risk of death washing over me, I rise and silently slink off into the crisp fall morning, stammering forwards as I attempt to rally my substance-ridden body. Why? It’s fucking Saturday.

I get to the house to find the young guys prepping for the weekly traditions by unloading cases of liquor and parent-funded champagne. I shower away the HPV (that’s science) and go downstairs with some brothers to begin our journey, ripping shots of dark liquors “disguised” in clear water bottles in what the campus PD must consider a form of youthful retardation. We finally reach the basement of the house, entering like a Mongolian horde of debauched political incorrectness as we wake impossibly attractive women that find our antics “charming,” namely due to the quality of our parties and our well-known reputation. Spraying champagne as if we’d just won the Super Bowl — just the first of our fluids to drench the young co-eds — begins the day of hard drinking, reprehensibly irresponsible sexual practices, and incessant live betting of higher risk than our checking accounts allow.

But now, for me at least, this oasis of unrivaled happiness has come to an end, never to be restored or relived. This Saturday, I’ll be at my old house, my alma mater, but I’ll be “that old guy” in a sea of youth. Hardly any of my class will make the trip, with familial and work-related commitments spreading our once tight-knit group across the nation, likely to never be fully back together. I’ll feel horribly uncomfortable at times, explaining to the younger kids that I’m not some random old man, and I’ll be checking more the IDs of prospective slams like I’m a bouncer. I’ll be checking work email, be worried I’ll run into a client or coworker in an inebriated state, and be pre-checking in for my flight home. These are the realities of a fraternity man one year removed from his undergraduate experience.

So, for those of you months from a diploma, enjoy and savor your final go around. Yeah, you can come back for a while in the future for a game or two, that’s true, but it will never be the same. Your best friends will never all be there; it’s just impossible to sync the schedules of young professionals. You’ll never feel as comfortable, accepted, nor without worry as you will these final 12 Saturdays. The baseball bat covered in shit that is the reality of a young professional is coming to smack you square across the face like you were Adrian Peterson’s child. There are a lot of incredible things about being in a fraternity, and in a broader sense being an undergraduate. My personal favorite, however, were the tailgates.

Unfortunately, they’re also the toughest to recreate. In two weeks, instead of waking up to co-ed champagne showers, beer bongs and strip beer pong, I’ll be on a fucking pedal pub drinking $9 dollar coffee stout and lamenting how expensive parking is in the city. My fat coworkers will provide nothing but an appetite-crushing disgust to my crying frock as I abhor their monotonous conversation of work-related minutiae and family shit I simply do not care about. I’ll be miles away from where I want to be, living a life that seemed so foreign and far away as recently as one season ago. But poof — here I am, and here it is.

Everything in life comes to an end; that’s just part of living. But the closure of some things comes with a little more sadness than others. Cherish this tailgate season, even if it’s your first and you feel like four years of college will go on forever. It doesn’t. One day you’ll be me, sitting on a goddamn human-powered trolley car with people you hate and alcohol that won’t get you drunk, wondering if they notice your repeated miniature nosebleeds. And, amazingly, that’s if you’re “successful.”

Thank God it’s fucking football season.

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