Tailgating It at Texas-OU

By 8 a.m. Saturday Oklahoma had pumped its trucks and minivans into Texas to clog Interstate 35 worse than a fat man's aorta. A normally 40-minute drive to Fair Park took well over two hours. It was a fine time to contemplate the tenacity of plant life on the highway's median. Still, it was better than being stuck on DART's Green Line to nowhere.

Near the Cotton Bowl, men on Parry Avenue wearing mesh neon vests flagged down  motorists and charged them $10 to park on a public street. "Don't be charging people to park in front of my house," yelled one resident. But business was good.

Before the game even started tailgaters sent smoke signals over the parking lot. Sure, they might have been drunk, but OU's tailgate-quarterbacks and a distinctly Greek contingent of UT alumni proved amazingly hospitable. They were eager to provide everyone and anyone a seemingly endless supply of sizzled meat and domestic beer.

A six-second broadcast delay alerted tailgaters, perched on folding chairs, to major plays and calamities as the Cotton Bowl roared several hundred yards away. There was much yelling at flat-screen TVs set on tables or tucked in the trunks of SUVs.

Banter between OU and UT fans was light and amiable, even when Austin resident Ashlyn Love shouted, "You can't spell 'douche bag' without 'ou'!" Everyone played nice; the only incident came when a Ford pickup smashed into a generator, which then spat a great storm of smoke that reeked of burning plastic.

UT managed to win the contest 16-13; said UT fan Gary Hargarve of Temple, "They got what they deserve: a loss." The Texas faithful stuck around to toss the pigskin, chug beer and celebrate a victory. Oklahoma fans, as has been their custom in recent years, high-tailed it back north on the stop-and-go trail of tears. Better luck next year.

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