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When I get excited for something, my expectations for it are rarely met. Of course, it’s sort of unfair of me to assume those expectations will be met, since they’re usually outrageous in retrospect, whether it be my assumption that this year’s Mizzou football team would be competitive and feature competent quarterback play (like I said, outrageous), let alone at least be entertaining. We’ve played in two (TWO!) 9-6 games this year, in which the Tigers are 1-1. There isn’t enough lukewarm Bud Light floating in the melted ice of a tailgate cooler in the world to make those games enjoyable. Even my childhood-long Christmas wish was a stretch looking back…
“Papa I didn’t want a bicycle, I wanted a pony!”
“Here we fucking go. Every goddamn year with this goddamn pony shit. One, we got nowhere to keep a fucking pony. What’s it supposed to do? Live next to my fuckin’ Ford in the fuckin’ garage? Two, you’re not a little girl – and don’t even try me with that ‘I want to pretend to be a cowboy’ crap. I hear the games you play in your room. Cowboys don’t have wands.”
“Well…can I pretend the bicycle is a pony, papa?”
“I don’t give a shit…no. You know what? I do give a shit. No you can’t pretend your bike is pony. It’s a fuckin’ bike.”
“And stop calling me papa! Jesus Christ!”
“He’s just a boy, Bob!”
“I don’t care. It’s too much. Come with me. You’re drinking scotch and eggnog until you got a forest on the shiny ovary pouch hugging your pelvis inside that RIDICULOUS onesie of yours. This is a long fucking time coming.”
But unlike this year’s impotent Missouri football team, and the Christmas morning pony dreams my father dashed forever with a fit of rage and a bottle of scotch when I was 17, my first ever trip to Athens, Georgia this past weekend exceeded all of my outrageous expectations and wildest dreams. Athens is the best college town I have ever been to, and I’m not sure how it could be topped.
The Athens trip had been planned since Missouri’s first SEC game – against Georgia – in 2012. The Bulldog fans traveled absurdly well for that game despite the distance, and were a blast to be around.
A joint tailgate between my fraternity’s chapters from each school convinced me that Georgia students and fans were people I could definitely enjoy drinking 20 to 30 beers with, which was no more apparent than during the Georgia chapter’s reaction to their best pledge losing a two story beer bong race to our best pledge — throwing a barrage of empty cups and beer cans at him while questioning his worth as a human being. They were us, and we were them.
Unfortunately, in 2013 I had to choose between a road trip to Athens or one to Ole Miss, and seeing as how Mizzou wouldn’t visit The Grove for something like 13 more years, I had to go with Ole Miss, because the next time I visited Oxford with Mizzou in town, the wildly irresponsible amount of money I’d be spending to get blind drunk would mean my kids’ Christmas presents would have to be purchased on Walmart layaway. I regret that decision only insomuch as it prevented me from being in Athens to laugh in Georgia offensive lineman Watts Dantzler’s face directly in response to a Twitter DM he asked Roger Dorn to relay to me before that 2013 game, telling me that Georgia was going to do something terrible to Mizzou’s ass.
Georgia, uh, did not end up doing that. Anyway, after I laughed at Watts and he threw me through the drywall in a fit of understandable rage, I’m sure everything would’ve been chill. But, alas, I wasn’t there for it. Watts did, however, tell me that whenever I finally did come to Athens that I should hit him up, and so I did. He assured me he had a ridiculous weekend planned. This is how said weekend started as we pulled up to his house Friday afternoon.
TG would be Todd Gurley. That was our welcoming committee to Athens: Todd Gurley, Watts Dantzler, and roughly a thousand beers.
The boozing part was great until Watts, his buddy Rob, and the rest of the Campus Sports crew who would be showing my friends and I around Athens, insisted we go out into the street and ride around on some of their PhunkeeDuck hoverboards. Between the road sodas I had on the way to Athens from Atlanta (I couldn’t wait anymore to drink/to drink Yuengling), and the drinking that had commenced at Watts’ place, it’s a miracle my face didn’t get slammed into the pavement worse than a guy trying to break into Edward Norton’s house in “American History X.” I am like Marty McMfly in many ways, for example I can wear the shit out of a winter vest and often live in the past, but I can’t hoverboard worth a damn.
We followed trying to smash my face into asphalt with dinner at Pauley’s (well done to everyone who chugged their way onto the beer wall there, by the way). Dinner is the last thing my perpetual partner in (sort of actual) crime Geoffrey remembers from that night. We finished eating at like 8 P.M. More specifically, the last thing Geoffrey remembers was sending an order of popcorn to the table full of girls next to us, both to be a troll and to seduce them (that’s sort of one in the same with him.) Maybe the smartest decision I made all weekend was stopping him from taking a shot of Rumple Minze that he was determined to take on our way out. If I hadn’t, the whole town might have been pregnant and on fire by Saturday morning.
The first sign that Geoffrey was completely blacked out were the shots he ordered at 40 Watt during the Luke Combs show. (Which was a great show, as it happens. Good enough that even Geoffrey had slight recollections of it, saying, “That big dude, I remember, could sing.”) The shots were bright blue (to celebrate his Royals), but inexplicably tasted like old coffee and cheap caramel candy. That’s not what blue is supposed to taste like. Everyone who drank it immediately recoiled, and had a look on their faces like they’d just drank from a bottle they were told was filled with water but was actually full of hot vodka that had been in the trunk of a car for a month, left over from being snuck into a music festival. We asked Geoffrey what was in it. Naturally, he had no idea.
After 40 Watt, we left for what I can only describe as 1) The epicenter of our consumption for the weekend, and 2) One of my favorite college bars in the country: Silver Dollar.
I could write a whole lot about what happened at Silver Dollar that night. The owner, Evan, was nice enough to give us a bar tab both nights, and hook us up with the upstairs area, so that was chill. But really, the rest of the night can be summed up with this video of Geoffrey, because that’s what the night was: pure drunken absurdity, or, from what I’m told, a standard night at Silver.
Our after bars ended at about 5:00 A.M. that night, giving us all a solid twelve hours of drinking on Friday, so the next morning was your typical pray for the sweet release of death, “Did someone take a hammer to my skull while I was sleeping?” type of morning. Obviously we all started drinking again as quickly as possible.
Eventually, Rob Malcom of Campus Sports took us around to a couple different fraternity houses, to their tailgates, for the customary seven hours of pregame drinking. (In hindsight, seven hours probably wasn’t enough drinking to mentally prepare for a 9-6 loss.)
Watching some kids (pledges, possibly) shotgun beers by slamming them against their foreheads to open them (I’m still not totally sure how this actually works) was pretty entertaining, especially the kid who couldn’t get his can open on the first try and legitimately had to slam the Keystone can against his head as hard as he could roughly ten to fifteen times before it finally opened.
I was given a full tour of one of the houses, the highlight of which (for me, anyway, because I’m weird) was the fraternity’s old school porno drawer filled with Playboys and all other kinds of filth that served as one’s main J-O and frat house toilet reading options before the era in which you could pull out your iPhone and watch a lady move through two parallel rows of dongs like she was a running back going through the gauntlet at practice. I highly recommend every house create one of these porno drawers* in case of a power outage, hurricane, apocalypse, etc. These kids were prepared.
*Disclaimer: Any non-affiliated student who finds said porno drawer, or even hears of it, will immediately accuse your house of promoting rape culture and force all of you to apologize to the school and society at large.
Georgia’s Greek Circle was impressive. All the houses were big and new, and they were all throwing tailgates. Really, the tailgates were just parties, which was actually more fun. Most of them had bands, and the streets were packed with people floating from house to house, drinking and praying to God that this week’s Georgia game wouldn’t be as much of a disaster as the last two weeks against Bama and Tennessee (again, the game was 9-6, so I guess Georgia kids’ prayers were answered, barely).
About an hour before the game, I got this text from Watts.
If you’re going to watch your team lose a terrible football game, you might as well have the best seats in the house.
The only downside to standing on the sideline was that I was wearing my usual bright “fuck you” yellow gameday pants while standing among nothing but Georgia’s best (and/or richest) fans. Even worse, I was standing conspicuously – about as conspicuously as possible – in front of thousands of other Georgia fans, who were all growing increasingly furious as the game continued because they, along with Mizzou, were playing like ass. Also, apparently I was saddled up alongside Georgia’s assistant AD and his wife for part of the game. I super duper did not belong on that sideline.
If it weren’t for the fact that Todd Gurley was with us again — along with Damien Swann and a few other Georgia football alums — thus drawing the attention of every Georgia fan within 500 feet, I’m pretty sure I would’ve endured a parade of dirty, suspicious, “Who’s this jerkoff?” looks.
After the game, we all went back to Silver’s upstairs and aggressively depleted the bar tab its owner Evan gave us. (This is a good time to mention that Silver’s manager, Gabe, is the fucking man. The guy took care of us all weekend.) Eventually, Gurley, as well as some more former and current Georgia players, showed up, along with a random collection of reality stars who I, if I’m being honest, didn’t know were there until I was told later. But yeah, great drinking with you Chase Chrisley and Brielle Biermann. What I wish I had known was that Justin Bieber’s ex, Caitlin Beadles, was there too. I had no idea. The only Justin Bieber exes I’m familiar with are Selena Gomez and Random Brazilian Prostitute. Opportunity missed. So many questions, mostly starting with, “How accurate are my Justin Bieber dialogues? Please say very.”
When the bars closed, about half my group, and a few Mizzou girls we’re friends with who happened to be in for the game as well, piled into one of Athens’ renowned “Giant Old Shitty Van” taxi cabs with another group of Mizzou fans, and we split the fare. The other group of Mizzou fans were on the way back to their hotel, The Bulldog Inn, aka where to murder a hooker in Athens. We were going to after bars at Watts’ house.
Other than our taxi driver being a 4’11’’ old black woman wearing a plastic crown, things seemed pretty normal for most of the ride. Then we got to the Bulldog Inn parking lot, which is long and narrow and wraps around the relatively long one story motel. For reasons we never really found out, once in the parking lot, the cab driver slammed on the gas. The van wobbled and whooshed passed parked cars, reaching what felt like a speed of about 60 MPH as it raced through the tiny parking lot.
The motel room we were looking for was on the back side of the motel. Once we reached the corner of the front side of the Bulldog Inn, the driver swung a hard left, and everyone in the van slammed into something — each other, the windows, whatever. No seat belts were on. Bodies were flying. The driver took another hard left, and even though the turn had dropped the van’s speed to around 40 MPH, everyone flew again. It was pure chaos.
Now with nothing but straight parking lot in front of her, the cab driver floored it again. The van got back up to 60 MPH while all the passengers laid on top of each other, entangled, helpless. Finally someone shouted, “That’s our room!” and the driver smashed on the brakes. We all flew forward, into the seats and each other. We were all out of breath and looked like someone had just pulled us out of a dryer. The van skidded and screeched for five or ten feet. Smoke was coming from the tires.
“I think your tires are smoking,” my super cool friend Michelle* (who, if you’re ever at Shiloh in CoMO, you should tip heavily) told the cab driver.
*Michelle texted me demanding I amend my previous description to this.
“That’s what happens when ya go fast,” she replied with nonchalance that bordered on obliviousness.
The other Mizzou fans got out of the cab and we said goodbye while they commiserated about where they were staying. One of the guys, presumably incredibly drunk, turned and said to me in what seemed like complete seriousness, “I’m trying not to get raped tonight.”
I wasn’t exactly sure how to respond to that, so I just said, “Hey man, aren’t we all?”
Once we got back to Watts’ place, we drank for a while — it was pretty typical after bars. Unfortunately, Grayson Lambert, who is Georgia’s starting QB and who lives with Watts, wouldn’t come downstairs. Apparently he was (understandably) frustrated by the game and just wanted to chill with his girlfriend alone. I get it. Sometimes you just have to lock yourself in your room with Miss Georgia and forget. We’ve all been there.*
*I have not been there.
Aside that intensely sobering cab ride, I don’t remember a ton from the second night, except for meeting more nice people than I can count (Georgia kids were a dangerous amount of cool and fun). We got really drunk and had an incredible time. It was magnificent. At the end of it all, I can say that I had more fun in Athens than I have had in any college town that wasn’t Columbia, MO. Hell, if I’m being objective, Athens is even better than CoMO too. The people were amazing. The town was gorgeous. The stadium was a cathedral.
Thanks, Athens (and Watts, Rob, Evan, Gabe, Silver Dollar, Campus Sports, all the fraternities I visited, and more) for a painfully fun weekend. You’ve got the best college town in America..