As part of our ongoing ripoff of SWPL called "Stuff ____ and _______ People Like," the EDSBS Staff presents "Stuff Orange and White People Like," an analysis of things Tennessee Volunteer fans like. Enjoy.
Pitchforks and torches. A nine-win season is cause for satisfaction elsewhere in D-I, but in the SEC and Knoxville in particular, it's a blight. Any win total under double digits lights up the AM radio dial with orange faithful ready to gut their coach like a catfish of astonishing proportions. Going 5-6 in 2005 brought, concurrently and consecutively, collective apoplexy and vows of silence---they still can't talk about it. Bring up The Season Of Which We Do Not Speak to a Tennessee fan and his eyes will glaze over in rage or incomprehension. Either way, Does Not Compute.
Orson's note: Wonder who those people in Frankenstein who, when confronted with a problem, immediately rush to get a.) an impaling instrument, and b.) fire? For any problem? Tennessee fans, that's who. They're threatening Frankenstein because, with some time in the weight room, he could be the next John Henderson, but noooooo, he wants to kidnap maidens and accidentally drown little girls in lakes all day like a bad monster.
John Henderson rocks fat titties all day, by the way, despite playing for a team we despise. "BLOOD MAKES THE GRASS GROW!" comes from his sideline rantings in college, and he also did this, which is now how we wake up every morning.
We do it just like that. Except the wife does it with a padded white glove, and she does it softly, so as not to knock my exfoliating facial mask off. Sometimes she gets a little too into it, and some of the dust lands on our white oxford shirt! It's a funny time, the mornings in the Swindle house!
HFCS That's high fructose corn syrup, friends, and it is a fact of natural law that the highest concentration of HFCS swollen people on the planet reside in Tennessee.
We once saw a woman in white sweatpants crossing Hillsboro road whose ass, perched atop three asses already, had its own ass with advertising sold on it claiming you could book space on the other four asses for reasonable prices. She was wearing a Tennessee sweatshirt, natch.
The Pudgy Parallelogram groans against the weight of its own geometric borders with the surfeit of HFCS-themed goodies: Smoky Mountain Salt Water Taffy (Orange with white lines=tasty, orange with green lines=ass-flavored anise crapsticks), Goo-goo bars, the odd bag of circus peanuts stashed in the glove (good for recovery after the workout, man,) and whatever other high-fructose vehicles manage to land in the seven bins of temptation greeting you in the line at Cracker Barrel.
And if it wasn't bad enough, the following restaurants are headquartered in Tennessee proper:
--O'Charley's (full disclosure: Dad used to be in charge there, so we know their evil buttery rolls better than most)
You're fifteen pounds down in the chips just to start. Add to that a statewide fascination with the pig--a spectrum moving from barbecue on the west end and transitioning to blood-pressure spiking country ham on the east end--and staying under 200 pounds in the state is an accomplishment in and of itself. If you told us they trained local heart surgeons to perform angioplasty with ice cream scoops, we'd believe it. (Advantage: fascination with pork ensures Tennessee SHALL NEVER BE TAKEN BY GAY MUSLIM TERRORISTS.)
(Clay Travis may insist Florida girls have fat arms against all evidence to the contrary, but that's because there's a contrast between one fat part of the body and another.)
Hunting camo. Worn with the orange Vols shirt, of course, an outfit signalling that even though you may have gotten a lucrative job with that investment bank in New York/Atlanta/Nashville, you're still gully enough to put on the bib, smear a little deerpiss on the ankles of your pants, and get down at the tailgate with some Evan Williams and Coke.
(Tricky move, the Evan Williams: it's the trashy whiskey of your youth, and a deliberate ironic nod to that. However, is everyone with you, semantically speaking? Do they realize you can afford Maker's, and are just going back to the Brown Bomber for funzies, or are they not far enough along in their walk with Ironic Jesus to understand the triple move you're making here? If so, why are you hanging out with them?)
For those doubling up a football weekend with a hunting trip--a not uncommon occurrence--it serves as a multipurpose single outfit for the whole weekend, and comes off in a pinch for quick hay-rollin' or celebratory nudity, which you won't do because no fun please, we're Baptist, and also because you're not LSU fans, who will get naked for three dollars and a can of Miller Lite.
The Church Of Peyton. A Manning sighting in Knoxville is a bigger draw than Elvis, Oprah, and Jesus Christ combined. A street named in his honor on campus. Afghans knitted in his likeness. "My name's Peyton". Volunteers remember, remember the thirteenth of December and rock their Keep Your Fucking Trophy t-shirts to this day with no sense of irony whatsoever.
Orange Oakleys. Vol fans would still be wearing the old Terminator visor models if they could, but being sensitive to shame, they realize they must opt for the smaller, newer variant of the marksman's classic.
Plus, they look like the ones they wear in the army, which is tough, which by extension makes the wearer second-degree-associative tough. And as with all fandom, it's all about second-degree-associative tough. (Exception! Soccer hooligans. See? Second-degree-associative tough is NOT a bad thing.)
Rasslin'. An NYC-based friend shares the following anecdote:
I once had a bunch of Knoxville boys stay with me when I lived in Brooklyn, and after some (read: lots of) drinking they began to toss wooden chairs off our fifth-story roof onto the sidewalk below without even checking for innocent bystanders or without thought to property damage, and when I protested, one large one turned to me and said, so straight-faced and innocent and sincere, "Honey, we're from East Tennessee. We don't know how to have fun without breakin' shit."
True masters of the "Hey, watch'is!" form, when there's nothing left to throw, there's always a Volunteer:
Drang, Hold the Sturm. While not as joyless as Ohio State fans ("Fuckin' right, dickbag!", says the Ohio State retorter,) Tennessee fans certainly possess a high degree of drang without the sturm Games begin with an almost socialist-feeling recitation of General Neyland's maxims, and then the running of the T, and then the same ceremonies beginning every game, and the same glorious Orange and White People's Song, which all children must learn by heart in school, as their forefathers did and so on and so forth as Tennessee runs the fancified Fulmerbone-I form-snoozefest right at the opposing D....
It's making us sleepy just typing it. How anyone watches it for a whole season is beyond us (Chavis' maiming defense is fun to watch, though, especially Eric Berry, who we're kidnapping, brainwashing, renaming "Wondy Pierre-Louis," and enrolling at Florida in a few weeks. Tennessee fans enter the game with gritted teeth, which is why the pitchforks come out so quickly, and also why Neyland is funereal when they get down by ten points to anyone regardless of the clock or the situation.
Not to unfairly contrast them with LSU fans, but when Tennessee fans are down, the reaction is this:
Tennessee fan: I hate this. I hate you. I hate everything. LuAnn, get your hand off my shoulder. Ain't no pain in the world gonna take the ache outta my heart right now. I hate you all and want you to die.
LSU fan, in same situation: WE GONNNNNAAAA KICK YO AAAAAAAAASSSSSSSSSSS!!!!
Of course, that's an LSU fan's reaction to being up by 14, or down by seventy, or just ordering a Popeye's lunch special on a Wednesday. So perhaps the contrast is unfair, but the truth remains: Tennessee fans approach games with the emotion of relentlessly committed fans, but combine it with a queasy anticipation usually reserved for rectal exams.