A legend died today. His name was Jimbo and he taught me how to tailgate. Now, we’ve all seen those overdone displays of tailgating with the inflatable tents, chandeliers, and party trailers equipped with port-o-potty and plasma screen. But, the essence of the tailgate isn’t in the toys. Tailgating encompasses what we are as people. The ability to serve as congenial host to both home team and visiting foe is more than courtesy; it is quite simply what should be done. Jimbo defined this.
When I met him, he wanted you to have the cornbread. This cornbread was made with jalapeño and habanera. You survive the heat and you made a friend for life. I bit into this breaded lava and began to sweat immediately. He simply put his arm around me and reached into the closest cooler. He rummaged the bottles of beer explaining why each failed to meet my desire to put out the fire in my mouth. He finally explained that the beer in the back cooler must be colder. By the time he found the beer for me I had already thrown two pieces of ice into my mouth. We laughed and I slammed that beer.
Others would find that his recipe for crown and coke called for the smallest splash of coke known to man. When visiting fans joined us, whether we brought them or they just wandered up, he got their take on the game, poured them a drink, and offered them great shrimp. Obviously more than just he could claim responsibility for the hospitality bestowed upon those lucky enough to say hello. But, for many of us, Jimbo will always be the paragon of tailgating.
So, tonight we raise a glass to the man who taught so many how to be a great host. Others can overcompensate with grandiose displays of fake fandom. Others can be the Johnny-come-latelys and wannabes. Jimbo was old school. Win or lose a smile graced his face. A win brought celebration and the unfortunate loss an opportunity to show what we were made of and his words “when you spread those newspapers out tomorrow, what will you find?” It’s only been a few hours, my friend, but I already miss you greatly. Roll Tide, anyway.