Or, me, five boys, one RV, a video camera, and a whole lot of laughs.
In case you haven’t picked up on it by now from my various references to it, this is what I’ve been looking forward to for many moons now, joining up with the crowd from the documentary Tailgate32. The only word that can come close to describing this experience is epic.
Six new states for me: Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota. I saw beauty I expected, beauty I didn’t expect, and, most importantly of all, I got to experience something completely unique and that I will never, ever forget.
I guess there are many sides to me. There’s the type A who always has to have a plan, and then there’s the Ellie who’s happy just to be a teammate and do what she’s told. There’s the side of me that is very refined and wants to dress up and talk to smart people and eat at fancy restaurants, and then there’s the side of me that loves seeing how other people live even though I really have no desire whatsoever to live in or near Boondocks, IA (yes, that is a real place).
There’s the side of me that cannot wait to get back to Cape Town and my life and my company and start training again, and the side of me that literally feels like I’ve run away to join the circus and I’m never going home. Or that I’m a guest star on a reality TV show.
I love people. We know this. Why I’m enjoying the hell out of myself right now is not the scenery, or the food, or the lack of internet, sleep deprivation, or several days without a shower and sleeping in an RV in the parking lot of Walmarts between Oakland and Minneapolis.
A lot of things might seem glamorous that are not so. This trip is a ton of fun, yes, but there’s some serious work that goes on. Just the same as you might think being a model is glamorous, or being a CEO is glamorous, or being a rock star is glamorous. There are moments, yes, but the grind is decidedly not.
After a couple 15-hour days on the road with this crew, we got to know each other pretty well. Of course within the first few hours of the RV leaving the Oakland lot, we were in the middle of a full-on party on the road. Work hard, play hard. In all seriousness though, I was under no illusions here: this is a tight-knit crew, here to work, and it was not a trivial ask for me to just jump on the RV with them. Three of them didn’t even know me prior to this trip, so I appreciated that much more that they let me into their world…. Because it is an intimate one. And they are boys, and I’m a girl. Not just any girl, sure, but, nonetheless, a girl.
What I can say is that even after such a short period of time I absolutely love them, even the ones I didn’t already love before we got going. Of course there’s quality time and there’s just time … quite a bit of this was of the latter variety but it was expected because we’re all working while on the road.
So I feel incredibly lucky to know these guys and to be included in the adventure even if for a short time. I also got to have some fun taking a break from my normal work to get beer sponsorships in upcoming cities – it’s actually super fun because the product sells itself. I have a healthy amount of respect, almost bordering on awe, for creating something out of nothing like Mike and John have done.
The punchiness of getting very little sleep while on the road, the never knowing when the camera might be on, the internet that works on either the computer or the phone but never both at once, meeting Dustin’s family in Nebraska, learning about NFL fandom, the post-modern experience of listening to a recording of Mike laughing and hearing the actual Mike laughing at the same time, and then there are the realisations I came to on this trip.
You don’t have to play the hand you’re dealt, it’s always a choice. Even if that choice is the right one, it means there is a path you’re not taking, and that can be … hard. And my favourite in a way, that in my work career I easily enough play to win, but in my athletic career and in my personal life, I play not to lose. My own personal Casablanca.
Fun stuff though. Even the Oakland game was pretty epic, there was this drunk fan in the tailgate before the game who was just the most amazing guy to watch experience homebrew for the first time. Raider Nation is a blue collar set of fans who are possibly the most iconic in the NFL. The game itself was memorable because the Raiders had to come back to tie it and then win in overtime. I love football so, so much.
Love is a funny thing. It can make you re-evaluate every single thing.
I love Cape Town. I love it so much my heart could almost break. But I also love America. Driving around Minneapolis, seeing all the houses without fences, and the autumn leaves …. I also love my company, and my life in Cape Town.
I think I need to get back there in short order before I do any more damage to my heart, liver, or digestive system.
- “Who are you going to vote for? A President who can drink beer or a President who can’t?” – Raiders fan
- “He doesn’t even know how to use it!” – John
- “My life revolves around creating moments like this.” – Matt
- “I look at that thing and it just makes me feel defeated.” – Aidan
- “You’re not wrong.” – Matt
- “Everyone talks about how much they hate Oklahoma but I now fucking love Oklahoma!” – Dustin
- “I almost started an electrical fire at the Mercury Lounge.” – Mike
- “That’s not an accent. I’m just drinking.” – Aidan
- “Sugar’s not a drug. It’s a way of life.” – Dustin
- “Who ARE you that I don’t even know you and I’m telling you all this stuff?” “[laughs] It’s Ellie!” – Aidan & Mike
- “South Africa. South Africa is a country.” – Ellie (I was on the phone to T-Mobile support)
- “There are tumble weeds!” – Mike
- “Seven of the eight reviews gave it a zero.” – Mike
- “Well I spelled every state correctly … and that was hard!” – Aidan
- “Well I got three of them right … the three we’ve already been to.” – Aidan
- “This is awesome! I haven’t been to a truck stop in years!” “You were at one a few hours ago.” – Ellie & John
- “Loaded baked potato? That’s a soup?” – Ellie
- “Tailgating was invented in Nebraska?” “Well maybe you’d know that if you watched our videos!” – Ellie & Aidan (touché ….)
- “Is that your home? It looks like Walmart.” – Dustin’s dad
- “I just took a picture of somebody’s dirty sock!” – Dustin’s grandma
- “Do you want to come to Seattle with us?” “Yesssss.” “Are you going to?” – Matt & Ellie
- “How did Goat find his bucket list?” – John
- “’With such professional videos, I can only imagine how professional they are at tailgating!’” – John, quoting an iTunes review
- “Chris can be normal when he wants to.” “We should make fun of him for this.” – Mike & John
- “Yeah. I still don’t understand why you were licking your own arm.” “….I don’t know.” – Ellie & Mike
- “Well, have to is a pretty strong word.” “As far as I can tell, you’re not even able to right now.” – Matt & John
- “We’re meeting 100% Cheese-Free tomorrow.” – Mike
- “Is he lactose intolerant?” “No. He just really hates the Packers.” – Dustin & Mike
- “It was not a staged fight.” – Mike
- “It’s called Stockholm syndrome.” – Mike
- “Here, you want to see Mike attack a Dolphin?” – Dustin