Tailwaiting: Tailgating’s Ugly Cousin

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.

Smartphone Fanatics
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.

Courthouse Habituals
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.

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One Comment

  1. jillg says:

    wow – you missed the entire rock concert “tailwaiting” genre. Grateful dead fans (deadheads) started the entire tailgating experience (there was NO tailgating anywhere before the deadheads brought the circus to town). getting your kind veggie burrito, post show grilled cheese and non-gdp merch started the whole phenomenon of parking lot partying. man, give credit where credit is due!

  2. Jeannie807 says:

    If people want to stand in line for a film or phone, what’s the problem. The author of this piece needs to get a life other than his elitist attitude slamming other people. I see he’s a surfer, nuf said.

  3. Jaq Hammer says:

    You’re an idiot.

    Tailgates are fine – and lots of fun – but guess what? Most tailgaters across this great, girthy nation of ours are EXACTLY the same hippo-sapiens who queue up outside Target & Walmart stores for a chance to literally crush the competition.

    And the camaraderie? It’s easy to be sociable with people when most of those people are usually the friends you invited to your tailgate in the first place. But once you get outside your little island of mass-quantity consumption, the interaction’s at a minimum, since you don’t have to interact with the idiots next door when you’ve got a dozen of your own idiots all huddled around the mini bar.

    Which brings up the other point, the secret ingredient of tailgates: booze. It’s easy to be chatty Cathy after the first couple beers. But one thing that movie lines and gamer lines don’t have is some 300 pound mouth-breather who pounds a second-six pack, belligerently condemns the opposing team, then horks up a helpin’ of chili con carne all over the side of some other fattie’s F-250.

    Meanwhile, the folks waiting for iPhones & games & movies usually do interact, and quite pleasantly. Of course, it’s sorta hard to chat with the folks at the front of the line when you’re in the middle, but those nearby will do just fine.

    I’m not sure, since I’ve never waited in line for one, but I imagine that most people waiting for iPhones are sorta geeky smart, and actually have plenty of interesting things to say, at least about iPhones. And once the ice is broken, the conversation can range to any manner of things. Tailgates, on the other hand, generally have a circular conversation of three topics: weather, a-holes in Washington, and football.

    Like I said, I never waited for an iPhone. But I have waited with my kids for Harry Potter books. And I’ll say this, I sure as hell would rather have my kids be die-hard fans of J.K. Rowling than Michael Vick.

    Of course, you’ve probably never experienced any of that – the contempt for line-waiters you evince marks you as the kind of person who wouldn’t deign to interact with the hoi polloi. But no matter – they don’t resent you. In fact, the nerds & geeks who actually run this world and happily interact in movie lines and Comic-Con will be more than happy to sell you – through their web-sites – the cleansers you’ll need to clean the puke stains off your mini-van.

  4. NoThanks says:

    What a terrible article. This was obviously written by a jock idiot who loves to insult others for merely being different. Never mind the time, effort, and brain power wasted on worthless football statistics.

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