As the old saying goes, "When life hands you lemons, grab a bottle of vodka a knife, and make yourself a martini with a lemon twist." That may not be how the saying really goes but it does illustrate an important point, when you've got a season that's going this poorly the only thing left to do is party it away.
I've always been a fan of the Irish wake. When something ain't coming back, it ain't coming back. At that point the only thing to do it celebrate whatever or whomever has passed on. The good folks in New Orleans have been doing this for generations too, so I think it's time Michigan fans walked down to the proverbeal pub and toasted the lost season.
The astute observer will point out the simple problem with my philosophy when the season has four games left on the schedule. The season is still going on. How can we pour a little on the curb for our departed season/homies if it's still around?
One word: Tailgate.
Tailgating will wash away the sins and pain of the world. It will. I swear it. Just ask the guys at UMTailgate, who have somehow managed to maintain their optimisim and good humor through a season that has made even the wide-eyed among us squinty-eyed cynics.
A tailgate is a special place in athletics. A place of optimisim, comradere, and community. Even in a dissapointing season, a tailgate at an away game can cleanse the soul. With that in mind, I'm taking a Maize n' Roadtrip from Chicago to West LaFayette for the Michigan Purdue game with some buddies and setting up the ole' Maize n' Tailgate for the cripple fight this Saturday. Win or lose, we're partying.
As with any party, the proper provisions are necessary. However, as we're on a bit of a budget, I'll provide you with both the proper tailgating necessities and what we'll have at Purdue.
The Ideal Mourning Ride:
Fo' shizzle. To properly mourn a season you need a tailgating machine that mirrors the size of the sadness in your heart. Said sadness must also include a pop out deep fryer, a refridgerator capable of storing the Miller Corporation's full production for the months of March - July inlcusive, striper pole (optional), seating for 12, enough food storage for a nuclear winter, two 42 inch plasmas, satelite dish, and a giant ass mural of the Big House.
What We're in Saturday:
Mayhaps it does not mirror the size of my sadness, nor possess the pop out deep fryer that is my broken heart over this season, but it'll more than do. As I mentioned, though financially secure, the proposed ultimate vehicle of sadnesses and hope is a tad bit out of my price range and would be a bitch to parallel park in Wrigleyville. Plus, the gas from Chicago to Purdue would require a second mortgage and Mrs. Brew is already slaving away at six jobs to keep me in the lifestyle to which I have grown accustomed, so I must give deference to her veto. For now. While the escape is not the giantic beheamoth one one would optimally require for properly mourning the season, it has ample cargo space, enough room for four grown men and at least two midgets, and, most importantly, an actual tailgate. As long as a table, grill, food and beer can fit, you're set. They do, and we are.
To borrow from Off The Tracks' outstanding Purdue Gameday Guide:
The R lot directly north of the stadium, Slayter Hill, and the intramural playing fields on the west side of campus. The IM lots are located behind the Recreational Sports Center off of 3rd street. On the map above they are basically the huge open area bordered by 3rd street, McCormick Road, Intramural Drive, and Stadium Avenue. Parking on Slayter Hill and in the R Lot behind the stadium are usually reserved for John Purdue Club members, but parking in the IM lots is just $10. More information from last year’s guide can be found here.
I didn't send in my $25 bucks to Purdue's athletic department so no R Lot for us. But we'll likely find our way into the IM lots. Can't ask for more than that.
The Ideal Mourning Grill:
Oh God, it's beautiful. No words. Should've sent a poet.
What We're Grillin' on Saturday:
While it ain't the Beefenator 5000 pictured above, the little Weber that could is arguably the perfect Tailgating grill. Portable. Compact. Plenty of grill space. Gas powered. Cools quickly so it won't ignite your car. I've grilled many a tailate on my little friend here and he's never let me down. Plus, when you've got four-six people to worry about, its arguably the perfect size. Any more people than that, sell your second car and purchase the Beefenator 5000. And email me. I'll bring beer.
Burgers. Brats. Dogs. Chips. Dip. No vegetables unless they are accoutrements to the foregoing. Done and done.
That ought to do. In all seriousness, the quantity, type and/or presence of booze is solely at the option of the mourning party. The optimistic mourner might take the position that his team will indeed rise from the charred ashes of its season and wish to avoid dulling the senses in order to duly appreciate the miracle of it's rising again (blasphemy, pure blasphemy!). Look at Off The Tracks' Michigan preview for such ill-founded optimism:
I know I am crazy at this point, but I am not giving up. In football, momentum can change in a hurry. With just one win this week we can start turning things around and at least have a small chance going into Michigan State next week. To do so we have to get something going our way. We have to get a lead. We have to get a small break our way. We have to get a big defensive stop. Anything can start things going in the other direction again. We haven’t played a complete game all year, so we’re due. (emphasis added for mocking purposes).
T, you're my homie. We got into this blogging business at about the same time. You know better than this. This game will end in negative numbers. There will be injuries on the sidelines of players that aren't even playing. The way this season has gone the only thing either team is due for is more pain. I do however admire your optimism.
So, if you're looking for an example of the fan who may just have a sip prior to or forgo entitely, T's your man. Me? Not so much.
Nope. I need something to wash this season away. If I'm in mourning for a season gone south, I'm celebrating it with a cold beer. Depending on the temperature the option of a bloody mary may also come into play, but I don't want to lug open bottles of hard liquor across state lines. Other mourners may not be so shy, so if you're bringing bloody marys let me know. Seriously. I'm not driving.
Regardless of the outcome of this weekend's game, Michigan's season is still shot. Michigan is not a complete enough team to win its last three games. So the only thing left to do is have a little fun, make a road trip, meet some new people and toast Michigan's good fortune over the last five decades. What else is left to do? In a year, two years, this season will be a distant memory as Michigan improves and becomes a good to great team again. But for now, we're pretty lousy, and no level of optimism is going to change that. So we should accept this season for what it is, basically lost, and celebrate it. Support the team as you always have but throttle back on what you expect from them. Raise a glass to the times they do something good and shake your head and laugh when the defense turns a screen pass into a 80 yard touchdown or the offense fumbles the ball on the one.
Remember to have fun. It is after all a football game. We'll see you at the wake!