1. You should not book a hotel room if you don't have to book a hotel room. The World's Largest Cocktail Party happens in Jacksonville, a city maligned by horrible Northeastern flyby journalists for years for being blank, devoid of character, and at best a hayseed parking lot dotted with vape stores, Waffle Houses, and disability check-related businesses. Those people can all go to hell, because that is the job of people more familiar with the area than they are. You fuckers should go back to bragging about how awesome it is to walk everywhere provided you don't have to carry things like groceries or be a woman on the street not openly carrying a handgun and a katana while wearing a chainmail burqa. ONLY IN NEW YORK.*
*No, you don't have to live in New York. No one ever has to live in New York.
2. But yeah, Jacksonville totally sucks. It's as bad as anywhere else in urban Florida in every sense of the word: strip malls, dull six-lane roads leading to nowhere in particular, and a sea of billboards poised over rotting stucco buildings. The weather around the time of the Cocktail Party is the exact temperature of food poisoning itself: Just warm enough to thaw frozen ground beef, and just cold enough to ensure it never gets cooked and grows a hefty layer of bacteria all over it. The river is very pretty. Go there, look at it, and drive out and do nothing else.
3. "But the beach, man." Here's the trick to living in Florida: no one goes there enough to justify living there unless they are a surfer, vagrant, or ocean swimmer. If you are the first then yeah, that's pretty great. If you are the second the beach is basically your home, and after three days or so becomes less and adventure and more an episode of "Avoid Death By Patrol Truck/Beach Tractor." If you are the third, you are weird and can't be stopped by any amount of advice. You might also be a fisherman, in which case you're not really going to the beach, but going as far away from humanity as possible in a boat. We can't argue with this being a bad idea.
4. The best restaurant is Publix.
5. The best bar is Publix.
6. All medical emergencies will be treated at the nearest Publix.
7. If your friends rented a house for the game, stay with them unless they're all single. We had to sleep in a closet one year when we made the mistake of staying in a house with multiple single people. The closet was fine until someone started having sex in the adjacent room at 3:30 a.m., at which point we had to drag a beach chair to the sand and sleep next to the water. It wasn't bad until the wind died down and the bugs started swarming. This is pretty much true of any experience in the state of Florida.
8. Going to the game is easy. You will pay too much to park in a church parking lot somewhere at least two miles from the stadium. There will be tickets available for Florida, certainly: no one expects to win this game, and most Florida fans usually only show up if they believe they are going to win. If you can, then, sit with Georgia fans for the sheer comedy of watching people become very agitated in what you know will be a Bulldog win. Hear "RUN THE BAWL, BOBO" in person; delight in the terror of Georgia fans who believe Florida may actually score multiple offensive touchdowns. Laugh at them when they are proven wrong, and cheer for Kyle Christy's thunderous punts like they are the only good thing this football team has.*
9. Many come only for the tailgating, but consider the other joys of the tailgating around the Cocktail Party, such as political ads on everything, thus mixing two of the worst things in the world: Florida politics and day-drunks. Yessir, your pitch for some Florida Blue Key personbot was made doubly convincing by your Confederate flag tailgate array. Everything, including politics, is served at the exact temperature of food poisoning at the Cocktail Party.
10. That's not to completely denigrate fine tailgating at the Cocktail Party. All of the following thing have happened to us in Jacksonville at tailgates:
- Peeing behind a truck three feet from a woman peeing with her whole ass out, and exchanging understanding glances about mutual but embarrassing public nudity before walking away and later talking to each other at the tailgate like nothing had happened
- Watching people of astonishing difference in age dance provocatively with each other, and later disappear to have sex they won't tell anyone about
- Seeing a drunk middle-aged white man do the wobble on top of an abandoned shipping container
- Buying weed off an old woman running the church parking lot you parked in one time
- Doing it again the following year, and hugging them like they were family
- Telling someone Fireball was really just cinnamon schnapps in disguise and watching them go NAWWWWWW
- Having a very drunk black lady pat you appreciatively on the shoulder and say, "You know what I like about you? You're WHITE."
That can all happen at the Cocktail Party, so yeah. Don't go. It's not worth it. To simulate the experience, eat some bad chicken, put a garbage bag as a vest, and drink a pot of hot, black coffee on an empty stomach while sitting on your couch watching the game. It's the same thing but cheaper with the same results.
11. If you're reading this three or four or ten years from now when Florida somehow stumbles into being a good football team again, please destroy this post and remember: this is what the losing or about-to-lose team says every time.