Not everything’s perfect — and that’s awesome

Photo by Rebecca Rebholz // rebecca.rebholz@marquette.edu
Photo by Rebecca Rebholz // rebecca.rebholz@marquette.edu

I am a fairly adventurous person.

I will try any and all exotic foods, though the ones from dining halls are a bit less satisfying than others. I have sung in front of hundreds of people without imagining them in their underwear. For my own personal merriment, I jump out of airplanes and pray the parachute opens so I can avoid plummeting to my death and repeat the cycle all over again.

There are few things I will not try when I set my mind to it. So when the opportunity presented itself, I took my adventure-seeking to a new level. I decided to go tailgating.

As a lifelong Brewers fan, I took tailgating for granted. My parents always grilled the hot dogs and set up the chairs while my siblings and I played catch or chatted with other fans about our favorite players. But the tailgate before the Brewers-Cubs game last Friday was my first without parental supervision. I did, however, recruit a friend from Illinois to join in the fun (because no Brewers fan passes up the chance to bring a Cubs fan to a game). With a few hours to kill before the first pitch, we figured, why not? What could possibly go wrong in a Miller Park parking lot?

I’m gonna break the suspense – Everything. Everything could go wrong.

We began the escapade pretty well prepared. My gourmet chef of a father – in spirit, if not profession – donated a mini-grill, an individually sized charcoal bag, food and recipes to our cause. Putting them to use became more of a challenge than we anticipated.

The single-use charcoal bag, which featured the instructions “Just light the bag,” would not light. An entire box of matches, a stranger’s lighter and a good 15 minutes were sacrificed before we just opened the bag and lit the charcoal the normal way. The simple game of ladder ball had too many pieces to even attempt putting together, but it couldn’t be saved from the large, crushing feet of another fan who happened to be stumbling past. There was also a mysterious lack of buns, so we ate the slightly — or in some cases, more than slightly — burned brats bunless.

It was nothing like the tailgate we hoped for, and I wouldn’t have changed a thing.

We made stupid mistakes and hit some bumps in the road. But once the embarrassment subsided, it turned into a hilarious and entertaining afternoon. We laughed at the ridiculousness of our situation and how amateur we looked to the tailgating pros around us. We silently judged the strange, potentially drunk conversations from other tailgaters. In those few hours, we talked more than we ever had previously.

It was by no means the ideal tailgating experience, but we made memories. That’s more important than the edibility of our food or an unorthodox manner of eating brats.

Obviously, you can’t have an outrageous experience and not tell people about it. I needed to incorporate that story into this, my last column of the school year, but how could I do it skillfully? Tactfully? So after much deliberation, I came up with this:

Tailgating was a lot like my first semester as editor.

No, wait, don’t put the paper down! I promise this will make sense if you hear me out. You can call me crazy after you’ve read the whole thing.

I was not planning on becoming Marquee editor this semester. When the job was offered to me, I was simultaneously thrilled and surprised at the confidence everyone had in my abilities to take it on. I decided to view it as a new adventure and accepted the challenge.

Truth be told, I really had no idea what to expect. I knew there would be editing, planning out stories for the week, writing this column — a daunting task coming after the two talented editors before me. But I could not have expected it to turn out the way it did.

Stories fell through. I broke my coffee celibacy in efforts to stay awake during multiple late nights in the newsroom. Occasional cockroach sightings in the Johnston basement frightened me and will continue to haunt me long after I graduate. Sometimes, the combination of editing and homework was simply overwhelming, and I wondered why I took the job in the first place.

But when I think of all the positive things from this past semester, those mishaps don’t even seem that bad in retrospect. I made new friendships and rekindled old ones. I wrote about topics I’m passionate about on a public platform. The Tribune staff even discovered that I will laugh at virtually anything past 11 p.m. — and every other hour of the day.

As you leave campus for a long, hopefully relaxing summer break, be adventurous. Try something new. Take a risk. The outcomes are not guaranteed to end up the way you originally envision them, but you will definitely make memories that you can laugh about years later.

Don’t be afraid of your next metaphorical tailgate. Dare to expand your horizons. But do not under any circumstances – literal or figurative – forget to pack your buns.