The weatherman said there was a 30% chance of rain for Saturday. Always the optimist, I hear that as a “70% chance that it won’t rain.” I opted for cowboy boots over duck boots. A 30% chance isn’t great enough to risk a fashion disaster. Sticks aren’t allowed in the stadium, so I never carry an umbrella. I keep an emergency poncho in my “melon smuggling purse,” which I left at home because it didn’t match my dress (and yes, after typing that out loud I realize how completely ridiculous it sounds).
Have mercy, y’all. When the rain came, it poured. And not for five minutes. The skies were shedding some serious tears, maybe even to prepare us for how the game would later end when Johnny Football went all… well, Johnny Football.
Since my years at Ole Miss during the Eli Manning era, I have always had a “home base” for tailgating. The Texas A&M game was the first time in twelve years that I didn’t have my own 10×10 roof over my head. Of course it would be the day God decided to do the plants a solid and make it rain.
Luckily for me, ten minutes before the sky fell I met two of the kindest strangers I’ve ever encountered: Colonel Florian and Jessie Yoste. They invited me to their tent, introduced me to the entire “Yoste Family and Friends” group and made me feel like I was a regular member. When the rain came, we pulled the tents down a few notches and became even better acquainted. Huddled over a bowl of Mississippi Caviar and Tostitos Scoops we talked Ole Miss, Oxford, football, grandchildren, governors, how weathermen are always wrong, recipes and tradition. I was too afraid to move my feet a centimeter so by the time the rain stopped, my favorite pair of Lucchese boots were three inches deep in the mud.
I didn’t care.
Being under a tent with strangers who completely took me in, fed me and kept me dry without a second thought made me realize something: at Ole Miss, we’re all family.
Thank you, Yoste family, for reminding me of that.
—Emily Gatlin, Editor-in-Chief, HottyToddy.com