October 28th 2017 – The Buffalo Bills vs The Oakland Raiders
My alarm sounds and I arise for another Buffalo Bills game day. As I prepare myself for a day of tailgating, I realize that this will not be a normal tailgate. As it is Halloween weekend, I feel that it is the perfect time to break out the gorilla/Harambe costume. I decide that I will spend the day like a reverse Jane Goodall, living and studying the Bills Mafia in the wild.
After noticing that I am more short on beer than expected, I decide pop into a nearby gas station to pick some up. I walk up to the counter where I am told that I must stand around for four more minutes until beer sales are allowed. I wait there, twelve pack in hand, as judging eyes surround me. All I can hear is “Shame…Shame….Shame” as I stand there like a goon. Alas, the clock struck eight, and I was on my way. On my way out, the clerk asks me to not jump through any tables; this is a request that no Bills fan can guarantee to adhere to.
I sit in my truck, mentally preparing myself for the day ahead, watching as the rest of our tailgate crew rolls up. I toss my gorilla suit into the truck and hop in. Hambone and Pat laugh a bit at seeing the return of the costume and Tailgate Tim just looks at me confused.
Our tailgate crew arrives at the Hammer Lot for the first time ever. We park and begin to get set up. As soon as the tent is up, I begin to make my transformation from man to ape. I did not want to be mistaken for a Raiders fan, but at the same time wanted to leave my gorilla nips exposed; as Rickety Cricket of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia once said”It’s all nips and hips, you got to make it sexy or I’m not eating.” To remedy this issue, I left the back of my Marcus Stroud jersey exposed. I try to join the boys in throwing the ol pigskin around, but quickly find out that my new gorilla hands are not made for catching and throwing.
I reach into the cooler and pull out my first beer of the day, but I must finish up my Icebreaker Mint (Raspberry flavor to be exact), before I crack it. It’s time for the ceremonial game of Beer Ball, Dirty Dietz and Tailgate Tim vs the dominant duo of Hambone and Pat. Tim and I go on to destroy Pat and Hambone for 3 or 4 straight games. The spirit of the gorilla was flowing through our team this morning.
The crew begins to explore this Hammer Lot that we have heard so much about. As we walk around, I receive many of high fives and picture requests; it would seem that people are enjoying the gorilla among them.
We arrive that the legendary Pinto Tailgate. Beers are flowing and the smell of bacon frying on an old hand saw wafts through the air; all is good. We are greeted by the legend himself, Pinto Ron (Whose real name is apparently Kenny.) He welcomes us to the tailgate, shakes our hands, and takes some pictures with us. This game would be his 380th consecutive Bills game; he has seen all that Bills mafia has to offer. There is no way he could have been surprised to see a man in a gorilla suit roll up to the pinto. Another Buffalo superfan, Captain Buffalo, then approaches me; “Everyone always wants to get a picture with me,” he says to me, “but I want a picture with you.” I am flattered by this, and soak in being in the company of these tailgate heroes. A reporter from Las Vegas is there and asks to use us in their video about the Pinto Tailgate.
When at the Pinto Tailgate, you have to try a bowling ball shot, right? Nothing says football like drinking a shot out of the thumb hole of a dirty bowling ball, so Hambone and I just had to give it a try.
The group heads back to our own tailgate, stopping to take more pictures with people along the way. It’s time for some more Beer Ball, and after a couple more losses, Hambone and Pat are getting desperate. Hambone never fails to get his team fired up, however.
As we continue our games, we find ourselves being watched by a group of Canadians that parked near us, and like the good neighbors we are, we taught them the game and invited them to join in. To give you an idea of how wild these people were, one of them was wearing a large overcoat, Bills Zubaz, about 5 gold chains, a raccoon tail fur cap, and yellow wooden shoes. Guy is clearly fashion forward. The stereotype about Canadians being extremely friendly held up once again, and these people became our new best friends in about 5 minutes.
We make our way back to the Pinto Tailgate for the Ketchup and Mustard Ceremony. We hear some speeches from some people standing on top of a van. The crowd continues to grow and become more and more fired up. They threw a few shirts(?) into the crowd, and with my giant gorilla hands, I was able to snatch one of those out of the air no problem. However, being the nice guy that I am, I gave it to the girl in front of me so that she could give it to her younger brother for his birthday. If I’m being honest, maybe I just hoped there was a chance that the girl had a thing for guys in gorilla suits.
Our man Pinto Ron (Kenny) is doused in ketchup and mustard. This was a truly magnificent site to see. Inspired, we made our way back to our tailgate with our new Canadian friends for some food and a few more games before heading into the game.
We begin to pack up our tailgate. I attempt to help Hambone place a folding camp chair inside its bag, but he did not find me helpful, and promptly swung the chair at my face. I quickly notice that I am unharmed, almost like Harambe himself reached down and protected me. No harm, no foul. We start our march into the game.
When you are dressed like a gorilla, apparently you can just walk through security. I wish I had snuck in a drink or two, but my pocket full of Icebreakers would serve me well.
We reach our seats in good ol section 240, and are greeted by Duff Man and all the other regulars. It may be raining and a bit cold, but the Bills Mafia is bringing the heat. Throughout the game, I would jump up on the bench, screaming, dancing, and trying to get the people going as the Bills stomp on the Raiders.
The weirdest moment of the game came when I went to rock a trip to the bathroom and get some pizza logs. While waiting in line to get food, a very drunk girl comes up to me, asking where the rest of my costume is. I had left my mask and gloves up at the seat while I made this trip. I bluntly told her that it isn’t easy to take a piss with a full gorilla suit on. She didn’t say anything. She just looked at me confused and squatted as if that was all I had to do to piss. I respond to her with: “Pretty sure that’s not how it works for me…” Who the hell was this girl? Is she really not familiar with the physical differences between men and women? Did she not realize that I was, in fact, not a gorilla?Either way, I grabbed my pizza logs and headed back towards my seat.
Upon return, Pat and I find that Hambone is napping it out. Solid move at half-time on a rainy day if I’m being honest.
The Bills continue to pile on Oakland, and the crowd realizes that Buffalo would soon be 5-2 for the first time since 2011. The game ends as a victory for the good guys. We join the crowd in singing Sweet Caroline and the Buffalo Shout Song as we flood back out into the world.
I’m back in the Hammer Lot soaking in the excitement of the win. Our Canadian friends return to their car as well. We greet each other like long lost friends, it was an odd bond our groups shared.
Sadly, my time as a great ape comes to an end. I remove the costume and am once again the one known as Dirty Dietz. I start to mentally prepare myself to sit in traffic for the next hour.
In Loving Memory of Harambe
The reporters from the Pinto Tailgate ended up using us in their video. Even used me in the thumbnail photo for the video. It’s a good read on Pinto Ron as well. Check it out here