Tailgating is awesome because the team has, except for that one time, never been much fun as long as most of us have been alive so we kind of have to make our own fun. It’s the equivalent of some shitty little MAC school’s student body storming the field after they beat an SEC opponent ranked in the 20s. When all you’ve known is failure, you tend to over-celebrate your wins no matter how small they might be, and for us in the tiny, dying, rust belt city of Buffalo, winning has more or less been simply existing in the NFL at all.
With so many endings (and middles, and beginnings) to Bills games having left a bitter taste in our mouths and having led to ruined Mondays and Tuesdays, it’s not hard to see why Bills fans tend to do most of their celebrating before kickoff even starts. Sports have become more than what they are in Buffalo, and I know it’s cliche to say that, but in a place that has been hemorrhaging good people for decades and saying goodbye to pretty much all of its promising youth, they’re often the only thing that ties departed family members to home. For some, it’s the only reason they ever come back at all.
It may very well be so for me.
This might be the best anyone has felt about the Bills in a really long time. They’ve won two games in a row, they have a winning record halfway through the season, and success feels a little less fake than it did in years past. Oh, and a megafan bought the team and is keeping it in Buffalo when we had no right to expect him or anyone else to do so.
I had a direct rebuttal to Gelber typed up, but who really cares? If tailgating isn’t your thing, that’s fine. It’s a shitty thing to fat or slut shame Buffalonians, but the overall spirit of not wanting to tailgate because of the difficulties that come with the preparation and because of the less in control portions of the fan base is understandable, and perhaps a good, narrow, focus for another article. But let’s talk again about why tailgating is awesome.
Tailgating is awesome because it helps dampen the shittiness you feel after the team loses, and our teams lose a lot.
It’s awesome because it’s a great equalizer. You’re not a lawyer, or an engineer, or a construction worker, or a clerk, or a teacher when your face is painted and you’re wearing Zubaz pants. You’re an asshole in Zubaz pants with a painted face.
It’s awesome because, even as an extreme introvert who hates crowds and people in general, being around Bills and Sabres fans feels good.
It’s awesome because the Sabres are 2-0 in the playoffs when I’m at Party in the Plaza.
It’s awesome because sausage and burgers and hotdogs are awesome.
It’s awesome because even my coworkers who are from Seattle and Maryland and Ohio think Pinto Ron, (even just the concept of Pinto Ron ) is hilarious.
It’s awesome because, for me, it’s home.