A few weeks ago, I boldly went where this humor columnist has never gone before: a football game. I feel like it was against Middle Tennessee? Never let it be said that I haven’t stepped outside my comfort zone in the interest of journalism.
You might well ask, “Audrey, how is it that you lived here your entire life and graduated from the University of Iowa and you still hadn’t been to a football game?” Well, readers, I was, um, busy. Studying. No, nobody’s going to believe that.
The truth is, I thought I was too cool for it. I went to a few tailgate parties my freshman year, had a few awkward day-drunk conversations with girls in black-and-gold-striped overalls, drank a tallboy of Natural Light (which, in these circles, is referred to as a Natty Daddy) and decided that this was not my scene. But my friend had an extra ticket and I didn’t have anything going on that weekend, so I borrowed a vaguely Hawkeye-themed T-shirt and got ready to party.
The day started when I met my sister and a bunch of her friends at a disturbingly early hour. We huddled around the tailgate of her roommate’s dad’s pickup truck, warming our hands over a Crock-Pot full of buffalo chicken dip. The first thing I noticed was the sheer number of moms, their SUVs festooned with black and gold streamers, furtively pouring Fireball into their coffee cups. That was encouraging; anything moms like, I probably will too.
As I was grooving to some ’80s pop hits, a 12-year-old girl tapped me on the shoulder, saying, “Mom, can I — oh, sorry.” Then, I had to go to the bathroom and cry a little.
Once the gratuitous-day-drinking-and-weenie-roasting portion of the day had concluded, we proceeded to the stadium. It was easily the most crowded place I have ever been. I didn’t know there were that many people living in the state of Iowa, let alone attending football games. No wonder the traffic’s so bad.
In the end, it was a lot of fun. Truthfully, I didn’t understand most of what was going on — there was a ball, some guys were throwing it, sometimes they would throw it very far and there would be a lot of screaming — but I didn’t really need to get it to get why it’s so popular. When we won, by what is apparently considered a wide margin, I screamed my head off along with everyone else. As much as anything, it’s about a sense of community. And Jell-O shots for breakfast.
This article was originally published in Little Village issue 273.