This weekend I was officially indoctrinated into Texas culture. I attended UT's first football game of the season. Apparently, Texas home games are referred to as "no law days."
My friend Jacob is in town for this weekend - he lives in DC and worked on the Norm Coleman campaign (tough break, guys) with a UT graduate, Bob. Bob was meeting his friends in Austin for the first football game and invited Jacob to tag along for a Texas-sized weekend. So I tagged along as well.
Bob and his friends are true Texans. They call me "baby" and are very gentlemanly. And they liked my cowboy boots, so I really enjoyed their company. I met Jacob, Bob, and the gang Friday night at a BBQ restaurant downtown (yes, that means brisket two days in a row) and we went to 6th Street after dinner until closing time. What a scene! The street closes to cars around 11 and is lined with bars, most of which have a live band playing. We were out dancing till 2 AM.
The next morning was a bit painful, but I had to rouse to make it to the tailgate. I met Jacob & friends at Taco Shack, about two blocks from my apartment and rode in the back of a pick up truck with Jacob to the scene of the tailgate. We drank some Miller Lites in the parking garage and I was ready to go. There is a very strict uniform for the UT game and tailgate - burnt orange clothing, or for the girls, white dress and cowboy boots. I opted for the dress/boots combo.
The whole UT campus is littered with tents for the tailgate. The prime areas are in reserved parking lots, where the heavy-hitter donors are awarded with a parking spot. After a beer in one such lot we mosied to another lot which housed what ended up being my favorite tailgate. Some people had a school bus that had been converted to a Longhorn fan bus with tents attached and water spritzers to keep cool. They also had two choices of beer on tap and a smoker for the homemade brisket, chicken, and smoked sausages that were being served up (consecutive day #3 of brisket). Bob introduced me to his friend Phil, one of the owners of this particular tailgate, so I will be happily visiting Phil again next home game.
We left Phil's party bus around 4:30 and met up with the rest of the crew at a tailgate that one of their friends who was on the football team in college had set up. He had brought a flat screen TV to broadcast the game and his homemade pulled pork. This was the best pulled pork I have had - seasoned with a spicy original recipe barbeque sauce and plenty of black pepper. I have eaten a lot of meat the past three days.
Game time was at 6:00 and Bob's friends were nice enough to supply me with a ticket. I signed up for the Longhorn sports package for athletic tickets, but apparently you have to actually go pick up your ticket for the game. Of course I realized this too late and was lucky enough that one of the guys had an extra seat.
According to Wikipedia, Texas Memorial Stadium has a capacity of 100, 119. This makes it the 36th largest stadium OF ANY KIND IN ALL OF HISTORY. It is HUGE. I've never been to a pro football or college football game before so this was all completely new for me. Our seats were pretty high up but I had no problem watching the game. I loved seeing the sea of orange before me as thousands of Longhorn fans packed into this massive venue. I especially loved the camaraderie of the "hook em horns" hand sign (see above). About half way through the game a UT player was injured, lying on the field, and the whole crowd held up their horns in a show of concern and solidarity. When he finally rose and was driven off the field in a golf cart, he held up the "hook em" sign and the crowd went wild.
Of course, we won the game. I met Jacob and friends at the Alumni Center during the 3rd quarter and forced down a whisky and Coke but decided to call it a night around 9. I walked home in my dress and boots, passing still-active tailgates with the cookers lit, the kegs still tapped, and the flat-screen TV's showing the game.
I love Texas. Hook 'em horns!