[HOUSEKEEPING: Yes, we're late or behind on, like, everything. We're enjoying our week-long breaks and spending time with friends and families. I'm sure you can forgive us. We'll have some Egg Bowl coverage soon - but won't be doing a podcast - and coaching search updates soon after. Oh, and basketball too.]
To open our annual LSU HATE WEEK, I took what I would perceive to be the high road, and advocated against a typical hate week laden with vitriol and vulgarities. After all, we weren't about to win that game this past Saturday, something which we didn't need the most lopsided victory - complete with kneeldowns - in the history of this rivalry to prove to the realistic of our ilk. So instead of the rah-rah and the clever hurling about of bland insults, I opted for a more novel approach against our Louisianan foes: win the party, fully knowing and accepting that we wouldn't win the game.
That's exactly what happened.
I do not mean to suggest that we at the Cup should fully take credit for the raucous, friendly environment I saw on the Square and in the Grove both before and after the game. But I do find it fair to give credit where it is due, namely the friends, readers, family and significant others of the Cup which helped make all of our weekends just that more enjoyable in the face of what could have been a truly abysmal Saturday.
Friday night in Oxford was, to say the least, damn near unbearable. Waits to use restrooms and get drinks were worse than anything I endured as an undergraduate. But, at seemingly every turn, there were old friends thrusting pitchers and shots into my hands.
"Welcome back! Have a drink!"
Much to my chagrin, Oxford's finest drinking establishment, the upstairs of City Grocery, was one-in-one-out, but good times were still had at the Blind Pig, Ajax, and the Rib Cage. Really, the venue at which we drank doesn't matter, because people were happy. We weren't there to celebrate Ole Miss football, but rather just Ole Miss and everything that makes her the unique, if not bizarre place she is.
The next morning, I awoke early to go on a long run, meditate, and work on some long overdue project... Or nurse any bad feelings wrought by late night imbibery with Gatorade and greasy food while cooking red beans and rice for Red Tent Rebellion. Did that, packed up, got a ride to the Grove and set up.
The tent's (rather, it was four tents arranged in a row) setup was large and bountiful, thanks largely to the stunning generosity of our readers. Why you all like us, we don't really understand, but we are glad you do. Booze, Chick-Fil-A, booze, jambalaya, booze, gumbo, booze, beer and booze were all generously donated by people who, for the most part, were (and in one particularly generous case, still are) strangers to us in real life. These vittles and potables were more than enough to grease the tent's lively conversation, all of which was enjoyable and fun.
In a bit of a giddy state post-party, I tweeted:
I meant that. To those of you who I met and re-met, you're all as clever and interesting in real life as you come off on the internet, and that's saying a lot considering the medium. Thanks for everything - the food, the drinks, the friendship, and, most importantly, the lulz. I could have and would have stuck around the tent for as long as the UPD would have allowed me if I weren't obliged to rendezvous with friends and family elsewhere - that's how much fun I had with y'all.
Oh, and then there was the game. Um, yeah, Juco and I went for like a half and, after giggling at Zack Stoudt's fumbling and bumbling about, were called by our grumbling stomachs and slipping buzzes back to the greatest ten acres in college football.
Loyal reader, commenter, and overall good guy SSMUND had, before the game, swung by the tent to invite the lot of us over to his tent post halftime exodus. This turned out to easily be the highlight of the night as a pair of gigantic tents, brightly lit and well stocked for their patrons - reminiscent of a juke joint - entertained a few dozen of us for who knows how long with Fat Elvis (pictured above) singing, dancing, and cavorting about in an exhausted, likely drunken stupor far too similar to what I imagine Elvis' later performances to have looked like.
And, as our evening in the Grove wound down, I helped One Man to Beat and Mrs. OMtB load up Red Tent Rebellion and, pouring a red solo cup full of whatever was left of the MD 20/20 (because fuck it, that's why), and rode off into the night, victorious over the party, perched precariously atop a stack of folded tents and chairs situated in the bed of a pickup truck.
I then woke up to fresh delivered Coop DeVille. It was actually pretty good and, I imagine, did just enough to keep my hangover from being worse than it actually could have been.
And, the entire time, I had the goofiest, smuggest, most self-satisfied grin stretching from ear-to-ear across my mug. I was with my people and in my element for a full 48 hours, and it was truly worth every bit of time and money spent, and then some.
Remember folks - and this goes more for our detractors than our supporters - we are just a few seasons removed from a thrashing of LSU in Baton Rouge and one fewer removed from an unintentionally hilarious nailbiter in our own Vaught-Hemingway Stadium against the Tigers. We are not going to forever be as atrocious of a football team as we are now, just as our opponents cannot and will not sustain their current excellence forever. We will not always need to win the party just so we can have something for which to hold our heads high and an excuse to spend time and money making trips to Oxford, Mississippi. We know this and, though they'd hardly admit as much, our opponents do as well.
But I'll be damned if it isn't great to see that there are those of us who, by the thousands, can and do celebrate anything and everything that makes us Ole Miss, for better or for worse, even if there seems to be nothing for which we can celebrate. Thank you all for making this past weekend one of the greatest I've ever spent in Oxford as an Ole Miss alumnus; thank you for winning the party.