Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Catch Up - Game Day at Ole Miss

The last few months have been so busy that I am pleased to have survived them without having a major nervous breakdown. Unfortunately, making it through busy, stressful times without requiring hospitalization isn't one of those things we give anyone credit for. College alumni magazines never publish updates like, "Susannah is happy to report that she made it through the months of August, September, October, and the majority of November without any psychological break down." But you know what? Maybe we should. The business of participating in life can be really hard, so, I'm here to say congratulations to all of you, too. We made it. We're within sight of Thanksgiving and then it's just a hop, skip, and a jump to Christmas and Hanukkah. Don't even worry about New Year's because if you're reading this blog, you're probably older than 27, which is the unofficial age at which you must stop stressing out about New Year's plans. By then, you should realize that it's the same as any other night except that we all pretend to like champagne, even though we know it gives us a rotten headache.

In the midst of all of our fall busy-ness, we decided to take a trip to Oxford, Mississippi to visit the K's parents. It turned out that the only weekend that was kid-sports free was the weekend of November 15th.  And, as luck would have it, Ole Miss was scheduled to play Troy (the college in Alabama, not the city in ancient Greece, or the movie starring Brad Pitt) that weekend, too. Since we were there, we decided to watch the game and (almost more importantly) allow the kids to experience the Ole Miss Grove tailgating scene.

All dressed for the game. The Baby picked out her outfit at
University Sporting Goods before the game. She looked adorable;
like an Ole Miss elf. 
If you've never been to the Grove at Ole Miss on a football game day you are missing a major people-watching opportunity. The scene is the stuff of legend, so let me give some facts based on my observations, so facts according to me:

1. Chandeliers - Yes. People have chandeliers hanging from their tent supports. Sometimes they even have blue and red crystals. (School colors, y'all).


2. Fancy Clothes - Yes. The undergrads are all dressed up for the game. The boys wear blazers, khakis, and bow ties. The girls wear dresses and heels and carry boots in their bags to change into once they've had too many cocktails to walk in heels or their feet start to hurt.

I love this picture of Collins and Leigh Anne Tuohy (The Blind Side)
modeling Ole Miss game day attire for Southern Living.
No offense to Lily Collins and Sandra Bullock,
but I think the real Collins and Leigh Anne
are at least as beautiful as the actresses who played them in the movie.
3. Silver - Yes. People have silver candlesticks and serving pieces at their tailgates. I can only assume that thievery is avoided because Ole Miss football was notoriously bad for enough seasons that people just stayed in the Grove and kept an eye on the silver. Or possibly, it would take too much time to go from tailgate to tailgate looking for silver in "your" pattern because mixing Chantilly and Francis I would be soooo tacky.
4. Catering - Yes. There are catering companies that will stake out a place for you in the Grove and set up your tent, tables, and all your food for you. This is what alumni must resort to once they can no longer ask pledges to get up at 3 am to set up their tents.
5. Confederate Flags - Nope. I didn't see a one.
6. Diversity - Some. Look, my basis of comparison is Rutgers, which is probably the most racially diverse college in the country. Compared to Rutgers, Ole Miss has a ways to go. However, there were definitely students of different races wandering around the Grove drinking game days and looking a little bleary.
7. Colonel Reb - Yes. Even though the old man who resembles a plantation master is no longer the official mascot of Ole Miss, people still love the geezer. I saw a ginormous Colonel Reb inflatable right in the middle of the Grove.

8. Rebel Black Bear - No sign of him. I get that the people aren't crazy about the replacement mascot with his wardrobe of business attire and sportswear like a Ken doll, but at least he didn't make the Mental Floss list of strangest mascots like his predecessor.

The girls and I didn't spend too much time in the Grove. The weather was chilly and damp and they didn't get warmed up by playing in pick-up football games like the Boy. After we had a quick snack at a friend's tailgate, we headed over to the game. We were pretty lucky, especially with the weather being what it was, that we had tickets for one of the box suites at the stadium. I fear that I'll never be able to sit huddled on the cold metal bleachers again now that I've seen how the other half watches football games.

The Girl and me.

The Baby and the Boy watching the game with Papa.

View from the box.
Sisterly love...or something like that. 
Speaking of how the other half lives, we made our trip to Mississippi in record time, thanks to flying on a private plane. I know! I can assure you that this is NOT the way our family typically travels. Usually we ride in fine style in our 2008 Toyota Sienna minivan with goldfish crackers ground into the carpet and one door that is stuck closed. But, the K's father bought time on a private plane for business this fall, (the closest regional airport to Oxford is in Memphis) and he was nice enough to give us a couple of his hours so that we didn't have to make the six hour drive from Atlanta to Oxford. Even though the thought of flying in a little plane was terrifying, it was slightly less terrifying than driving with three children, one of whom is extremely prone to carsickness.

One friend said that the Baby looks like Mariah
Carey on tour in her Uggs ($40 at Marshall's)
and loungewear. 

The kids were initially super excited, but then got kind of jaded and blasé about the whole thing in the same way I did when my parents first got a car with air conditioning and an FM radio. At first I thought it was so fancy to have a car with such extravagant bells and whistles, but pretty quickly I got used to those features and longed for something better - like a car with power windows. Now, that would have been big time! It was basically the same thing with the plane. At first they were checking out the swiveling seats and the "free" snack refrigerator, but it wasn't too long before they were asking, "are we almost there, yet?" just like they would have in the car. I thought it was fabulous and enjoyed reading all the rich-people magazines that were chock full of information I'll never use like the top restaurants in Dubai and gift recommendations for $45,000 wooden valet stands.

So, basically our trip to Mississippi was like a missing verse to the song "Royals." There were private planes, crystal chandeliers and silver at the tailgates, and we were hanging out in a private box at a football game. I can promise, though, that I never saw a tiger on a gold leash. I mean, it's not like we were at LSU!