What are the rules for setting up in a new tailgating spot?
What are the rules for setting up in a new tailgating spot?Illustration by Jack Unruh

Q: I’ve had a tailgate party in the same spot for just about every Aggie home game since R. C. Slocum’s last season, in 2002. This year I’d like to make the move to a different spot, on the other side of the stadium, but it’s between two established tailgates, and I don’t know the folks who host them. Are there any guidelines for busting in and setting up a new tailgate?
Howard Marples, Houston

A: That all depends on what sort of tailgate you are planning to bust in and set up. Is it one of those gigantic, bottomless-keg bashes that boast a mouthwatering spread of professionally catered grub, multiple sixty-inch plasma televisions, and a prescheduled appearance by your alma mater’s marching band’s percussion section? As anyone who has ever attended a football game—be it professional, collegiate, powder-puff, or peewee—in the great state of Texas well knows, there is a spectrum of tailgate ostentation along which these festive pregame shindigs may be plotted. At one end is the aforementioned five-star jamboree, complete with its own power grid and kitchen staff; at the other, it’s just two guys sharing pigskin pleasantries and a flask of contraband bourbon while enjoying a bag of cold McNuggets. Though the bigger parties tend to provide the neighbors with more perks (“Hey, y’all, this commercial-sized chafing dish full of pork tamales ain’t gonna eat itself!”), their size and spectacle can be intrusive. There is a common bond that binds any home game’s tailgaters, but that bond can be strained by the roar of a dozen generators kicking on at once. Nonetheless, even a comically ginormous party can be wedged in if the approach is tactful. Which is to say, keep those tamales coming, and be sure to give your neighbors ample warning before the bass drums arrive. Also keep in mind that tailgate real estate is often held in perpetuity by way of the honor system, so make sure you’re not violating the sacrosanctity of that code. And you should further verify that the spot is in an open-access site and there are no official hoops (fees, permits, etc.) to jump through. If the answers to those questions are “I’m not” and “There ain’t,” then the Texanist wouldn’t hesitate, not for one tick of the clock, to pull up stakes and put them down anew on the other side of Kyle Field. Just let a thumbs-up and a hearty “Gig ’em!” be your introduction.

Q: I just relocated to Texas from Wisconsin and now reside in a nice little home out near Sugar Land. My new abode came with a lawn, an amenity my Milwaukee apartment did not have. A neighbor told me that I need to winterize my grass, but I’m wondering, with “winter” being what it is here, if that’s really necessary. 
Stephanie Brown, Houston

A: The Texanist is known in certain parts of the state (i.e., the one-block radius surrounding his home) as the keeper of a well-maintained lawn. As such, he likes to think that he possesses at least a smidge more familiarity with meteorology, climatology, and horticulture than the average joe. While you will no doubt be pleased with the relative mildness of the Texas winter in comparison with the icy hell you endured back in the Badger State, your lawn will not really appreciate the difference. Think about it: those coddled shoots of grass have never known anything but these balmy climes. They were born and bred in an exceedingly temperate part of the world, and no matter how many times you try to explain to them how good they have it down here below the 36.5th parallel, they are guaranteed to pass the short few months of chilliness in a state of crunchy, yellow dormancy. You can help, however, by feeding the turf, which, like a badger who fattens himself for the winter, prefers to face the freeze with a full belly. A dose of nitrogen is usually enough (the other two common winterizing fertilizer ingredients—phosphorous and potassium—are actually not all that necessary here in Texas). But be careful: confusion over fertilizer-nutrient ratios can cause fits for unseasoned grass maintainers, so in your case the Texanist prescribes a quick phone call to the fine folks over at the Fort Bend County extension office, in Rosenberg. They’re at 281-342-3034. Good luck.

Q: What’s with people using beer as a cocktail mixer these days? I seem to be running across this weird phenomenon more and more lately. Beer with tomato juice? Beer with orange juice? Beer on ice? What’s wrong with drinking a traditional Texas “coldbeer” straight from the packaging (or keg) that the brewer (and God) intended it to be drunk from? 
Name Withheld, Austin

A: The beer cocktail—or cerveza preparada, as it is known south of the border—is nothing new, although a few of its numerous variations do seem to be more prevalent in the state’s watering holes of late. Why, in the last week alone, the Texanist has had the following libations forcefully pushed upon him: a bevy of Bloody Mary–esque micheladas, one overly citrusy Brass Monkey, a Shiner on the rocks, a couple of Flaming Dr Peppers, four boilermakers, an unknown quantity of sake bombs, and one extremely large and overpowering Mexican Bulldog, which is basically a schooner of frozen margarita with an upside-down longneck stabbed into it. No doubt some of these doctored-up drinks constituted a flagrant display of beverage blasphemy, but variety is the spice of life. And when that spice is applied to the rim of a glass containing a frosty and refreshing alcoholic concoction, the Texanist knows of no reason why decent, God-fearing people should refrain from having a few sips. Cheers. May the road rise up to meet you, though not as quickly as it did for the Texanist as he was stumbling home after that salvo of sake bombs.

Q: I recently won a game-worn jersey at “Shirt off the Back” night at our local minor league baseball stadium. My question regards laundering. I thought it would be a good idea, since the player whose jersey I won had slid into base and dived in the outfield during the game. But my friends said, “No, you NEVER wash a game-worn jersey.” What is the proper thing to do?  
Becky Johnson, Corpus Christi

A: First, congratulations. You are a lucky lady to have walked off with an authentic souvenir, smelly though it may be. Normally, the Texanist likes his team jerseys spic-and-span—whiter whites and darker darks—but a game-worn jersey can be a special memento, which laundering may diminish. If the player who wore the jersey were to somehow make his way from Corpus Christi to Cooperstown, you’d certainly want to have every grass and sweat stain preserved in the garment’s fibers for posterity. If, on the other hand, he were to spend his career languishing in the minors, you’d have yourself nothing more than a dirty shirt. Considering that the Corpus Christi Hooks are the Double-A affiliate of the Houston Astros, who are currently the worst team in all of Major League Baseball, you could be forgiven for reaching for the detergent. But the Texanist would advise root-root-rooting for the home team, following the player’s progress, and holding off on the heavy-duty cycle, at least for now.