Somewhere in Louisiana late on Friday, a drunk hunter shot himself, fell on his knife, slashed his femoral artery with a jig, or otherwise mortally injured himself in the course of trying to catch a fish or convert a happy, walking live deer to tasty venison sausage. And rather than going to the hospital or even calling for help, he simply lay down on the deck of his boat or sat back in his tree stand, gazed at the purple sky, and said something to the effect of "Lester, you brought this on yourself. Might as well finish what's in the flask."
This is because there are things you do not know about going to an LSU game on Saturday night in Baton Rouge. We'll explain all you need to know in a few simple bullet points.
Cheers from Baton Rouge. Mandatory remark about obvious homosexuality of opponent included on t-shirt.
Everyone's there. Lester accepted fate as he bled to death, and just as well, since Lester was a dead man walking. No one was in the emergency rooms, nor in the morgues, nor in the dispatcher's seat. Every single person in the state of Louisiana was in Baton Rouge, professionals, ne'er-do-wells, rapscallions, and professional ne'er-do-wells and rapscallions, to watch LSU play Florida in Tiger Stadium. Babies went unborn; ships sat unloaded at the docks. Dogs circled a spot on the floor three times and then lay down on the floor, passed out until their woozy owners returned 48 to 72 hours later.
On Friday night, a quick drive around the campus confirmed our suspicions.
It felt like a tour of a war camp of some unnamed guerilla army on maneuvers. Figures moved under trees in black silhouette against Christmas lights that read "LSU" across the front. Cars prowled, sniffing out prime real estate for tents. Televisions flickered behind the mesh of screen netting. People crawled all over the campus a full 24 hours before gametime. At Florida, show up at 12 p.m. for an 8 p.m. game, and you may tailgate anywhere you like; at LSU, show up at noon, and you may park in Slidell and take an airboat into campus.
Again: patients are left on the operating table sometime around late Thursday. That's how devoted LSU fans in full flood are to tailgating.
Batter fry it, or the terrorists win. Everything not cooked in a huge iron skillet over a gas burner is cooked in a huge aluminum pot full of oil over a burner. At our own host's tailgate, LSUJoshua batter-fried two turkeys, a pork loin, and a 2002 Hitachi portable television just to prove a point: anything may be batter-fried. He did not actually batter-fry a television, btw, though we did spend a good and drunken five minutes starting at the bubbling oil contemplating the act of dipping our cell phone in batter, tossing it in, and then eating it just to see what would happen. It just seemed appropriate at the time. Enough vodka and creole-butter-infused fried turkey meat does odd things to the brain.
Fuck you means "I love you." That's what an optimist says, at least, since we assume it was reaching out to other fans, and not garden-variety hostility. We racked up five "fuck yous" and two "faggots" walking around in Florida gear before 11:00 a.m. Central time, including a hearty "Hey, fuck you!" from a guy who, after two minutes conversation, gave us a beer and welcomed us formally to Baton Rouge.
Much of the faggotry centered around our beautiful baby Rhino of a quarterback, Tim Tebow, who throughout the day performed a dazzling array of hypothetical homosexual acts: he was fucking us, or we were fucking him, or he was sucking our cock or vice versa through a glory hole somewhere in the Baton Rouge metropolitan area. How any of the fans knew such specific and accurate locations for anonymous sex was beyond us, but whatever PR company is representing the glory hole operation in Middleton, Louisiana needs to up their fees, since we had three different people suggest we check it out after the game. It must be the most glorious hole of all.
Nevertheless, once you got past the threats of bodily harm, the lack of decorum suits the outgoing blogger very well. We actually had this exchange with a guy after the game.
Hammered to bejeezus guy: HEY, WE FUCKING KICKED YOUR ASS.
Orson: Yes, yes you did.
HTBG: I should kick your fucking ass, man.
Orson: It's a great environment in there. Loud as hell.
HTBG: You enjoyed it?
Orson: Yes, I did.
HTBG: Come here, man. I love you.
Orson: Yes...I...I love you to, Hammered To Bejeezus Guy.
HTBG: (Kisses us on the cheek.) I'm Tony Joiner baby! I love you! I'm gonna steal your car!
The improbable three Fs of the LSU football fan: Friendly! Fucked up! And Fucking Hostile!
The tiger is real. You know that there's a live tiger on campus at LSU. And that they parade it around before games. And that you're going to see it. But seeing it registers the lunacy of the whole event at a level that only the visual can really deliver: it's a live goddamn tiger in its own bizarre cage/car, staring out at all the fresh meat it could possibly ever want from behind mesh and generally looking very, very unimpressed with the whole affair. The crowd loses all sense when it arrives, bringing LSU pregame out of the realm of mere "pep" and into a conflation of sport and primitive totem worship.
The tiger, meanwhile, gets to play the part of Philip Fulmer behind the glass at a Krispy Kreme, watching all the tasties float by him with zero chance of him actually getting his massive mitts on any of the goods.
Tiger Stadium is proxy Mardi Gras. Something cuts Tiger Stadium loose from the fetters of reality. Perhaps it's the brown liquor buzz peaking with the setting of the sun, or the lurid dark purple the sky turns just as the sun is sliding beneath the horizon, or the combined and complete attention of 92,000 people all focused on one communal point of attention. We've read about the intangibles of playing in a place like Tiger Stadium before--the vague "something" described alternately as "special," "different," or "MY GOD I'M NOT GETTING OUT OF HERE ALIVE"--and scoffed.
We scoff no more. It's real, live, and tangible enough to hang your freshly slaughtered baby alligator carcass on in a pinch. (We met a tailgater who, in festive fashion, had slaughtered a baby alligator that morning in order to prepare it for the tailgate. Tiger meat's a bit harder to come by. Thanks, Chinese Medicine black market! Assholes.)
It's as loud as The Swamp, yet somehow more unhinged. When the USC score was announced, the reaction was loud enough to cause a rhythmic buzz in the ears, a noise not unlike that of a didgeridoo in full throat in the wastes of the Australian Outback.
That voodoo's real. When the "Four Corners Salute" gets cranking, it's like listening to a 747 made entirely of fired clay crashing into a field of shattered glass. Getting a snap off effectively is in itself a game ball-worthy achievement. Combined with the orgy going on outside the stadium for five miles in any direction, it's the gold standard for any other college gameday experience. Any of them. It is peerless in terms of demonstrated intensity, lunacy, commitment, flair, and menace. At several points in the day, we were convinced we were going to be killed, injected with creole butter, and thrown in a deep fryer...but only in the most festive and accommodating of ways, of course.
In the end, the hat remains undefeated. Les Miles went for it on 4th down five times and made all five. Justifiably, LSU fans are fascinated with hats, including Les' huge white beamer of a skull cover and their own. We summed up the action Saturday night with Mario and his own lucky hat as Pantera's "Walk" thumped along in the background.
More on the actual x's, o's and implications of the game tomorrow. But it's Columbus Day, and we're going to celebrate the renowned genocidaire by catching up on our sleep after a napless weekend in Baton Rouge. We drove there, drove back, and in between enjoyed 36 hours of outright madness covered in brown liquor and a tasty roux of football, screaming, and tiger-striped lunacy. We are sorely in need of a defense that can get a three-and-out, some Aleve, and a good nap.
Thanks again to LSUJoshua, who gave us his ticket so that we could experience to the maelstrom that is Tiger Stadium. We only owe him our firstborn in return. Cannon Dorsey Swindle actually sounds pretty tough already.