Ah, yes…tailgating the ol’ football game. What is it about this great American tradition that sets it apart from the pre-game experiences of other sorts of fanatical followers across the country? Are the scores of fans in authentic NFL jerseys really that different from the cauldrons of cool “kids” waiting all damn day for midnight shows of Twilight or Harry Potter? Can the level of fanaticism be so far off from the vibe of a Star Trek convention or Lost merchandise auction? Is the anticipation on such a separate plane than that of a new iPhone or XBOX release?
To the outsider, “tailwaiting” might not seem altogether strange from tailgating, but there are differences. Lots. For starters, most tailwaits lack the camaraderie and/or BBQ grill sessions of a great tailgate. Likewise, everyone outside a stadium already has a ticket and a guaranteed seat, so there’s no fear of line-cutting. Plus, a tailgate’s got booze…lots of it. But regardless, the point here is that football fans aren’t the only ones willing to wait long hours in celebration of their favorite spectacles. Have some fun (or lack thereof) with the following tailwait spectaculars:
Film & Movie Buffs
When I go to a football game, I do so to watch my favorite players go to battle on the field. However, I no longer line up for movies to see my favorite heroes projected onto the silver screen. Quite the opposite, I go to witness a bitter group of twenty-somethings get testy with each other in an epic duel over supreme knowledge of spoilers, as hundreds of unemployed people pretend their hardest that the awful reviews they read a bit earlier in the day don’t exist. Seriously, just try not cracking a smile as some fat fanboy dressed to the nines as Gimli explains that he would have liked the movie when he was a kid and that’s why he knows he’ll love it now.
To all the early morning gridiron gangs out there, I pose to thee a question: do you have any Apple addicts in your life? If so, you’ll likely agree that there’s no more humdrum of a tailwait than this group of post-collegiate bores. Is it really so important to be the first to plunk down $400 and update the smartphone that’s still smarter than all the other phones in your office combined? Ask this question to the tailwait outside of an Apple Store on iPhone Eve and you’ll hear a resoundingly robotic “yes” in monotone response, immediately followed by everyone looking back down to their current devices and most certainly not speaking to one another.
Goodness of Gamers
Not many crowds compare with football fans when it comes to camaraderie, but one group that blows these pre-game pigskin packs away are gamers. Anxiously awaiting the release of a new console, they turn Gamestops and Targets into makeshift campgrounds, happily clustering together like newfound roommates in an outdoor dorm. Even if there aren’t many games ready on “opening day,” this tailwait retains a sense of steady optimism that more will be available in the future. Such an idea could never quell the angry sorrow of unsatisfiable film fans, who regret calling in sick to work and losing a day of pay, well before the movie’s even started playing.
Price Is Right Regulars
Times have changed since Drew Carey took over, but back in Bob Barker’s day, there was no more circus freak of a tailwait line situation than that of The Price Is Right. Before Bob called it quits, people from all the most internet-less areas of America would flock to West Hollywood and wait long hours for a chance to play Plinko and spin the Big Wheel. With their toad-like skin, Darth Maul blankets and horribly inane conversation, they would recount en masse the same exact boring stories about how they hadn’t ever made it on, even though they had flown out six separate times to do so. Alas, CBS Studios is far from Lambeau Field, in more ways than one.
Ever had to line up outside of a courthouse early in the morning, before any legal proceedings have begun? If not, and you want to experience all of the aforementioned tailwaits and the all-stars from a local football tailgate at the same exact time, do yourself a favor: commit a petty offense, get caught and then watch the courthouse tailwait coagulate right before your eyes. “Why are there so many damn people in line?!” Do you hear what you’re asking yourself here, sir/madam? You’re one of the people! YOU ARE THE LINE! Likewise, it probably wasn’t a great idea to wear so much denim to an event that will have an extreme effect on your life…
That’s tailwaiting for you: an American tradition that we all can enjoy, no matter where our fandom lies.
Elijah Bates leads the creative department at CitizenGlobal, a social media company in Venice Beach. When he’s not working, or contributing Best Of and Mancave articles to CBS, you’ll find him surfing the California coast & evading stingrays like trips to the dentist.