Before a big rivalry game, most guys pull on team jersey, and put a case (or ten) of Nati in the fridge. Girls prepare by shopping for those face tattoos and charging their cameras for tailgate pictures with their betches. Some rock a snapback in school colors or go all out with badly smeared body paint. It’s cute, really.
But in case you haven’t heard, here at THE Ohio State University, we aren’t most fans– We’re the motherf****g Buckeyes. The week before the biggest rivalry game in college football, we don’t buy foam fingers and play beer pong. We go swimming.
In a lake. At midnight. In the middle of November. Wasted.
Once a year, on the Tuesday night before the Ohio State-M!ch!g@n football game, students and die-hard fans don scarlet and grey and make the annual pilgrimage into the frosty waters of Mirror Lake– a tradition that is as much apart of being a Buckeye as singing “Hang On Sloopy” or Script Ohio. This is the last year that I will make the jump as an undergrad at OSU, so I consider myself a proud survivor. For the past couple of years, I have braved hypothermia-inducing conditions, risked pneumonia, the common cold, frostbite (and likely much worse), for the opportunity to brag to my shocked and horrified relatives at Thanksgiving dinner, while simultaneously doing my part to put that state up north in their place. Over the years, I’ve accumulated a few survival tips for the night:
- Dress Appropriately: Or rather, undress appropriately. If you’re going to do this, go all out. This year, I’ll be rocking an Ohio State bikini, however, I’ve seen latex, jerseys, speedos, pajamas, and banana costumes. So have a little fun and dress for the part. However, if your wardrobe includes any (and I mean any) blue or yellow, you will get hurt. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Most importantly, you should be sporting the crappiest pair of flip flops that you own, secured to each one of your feet by no less than one roll of duct tape. By the end of the night, the hills leading down to the lake look like Woodstock mudslides, so come prepared with footwear optimized for sliding down those black diamond slopes.
- Get Wasted: That bottle of Svedka is your new best friend for the night. Play Edward 40 Hands if you want– whatever gets the job done. The key is getting drunk enough that even once you realize that the water is 10x colder than you ever could have imagined and you’ve lost all feeling from the neck down, you still don’t give a shit, because M!ch!g@n still sucks.
- Sing Your Heart Out: You and you’re friends are about to become the Glee Club, so start practicing. If I can’t hear you drunkenly singing (or screaming) “we don’t give a damn for the whole state of M!ch!g@n….” from the opposite end of Mirror Lake, you’re doing it wrong.
- Cardio, cardio, cardio: I can’t stress this enough. Training started two weeks ago, and you’re behind. So put down the Taco Bell and get off your ass. Your crash diet started yesterday. I upped my morning runs by a mile starting last month. I have friends going shirtless to class this week to build a resistance to the cold. It’s going to be fucking cold out there, so if your ass can’t keep up while I’m running back to my apartment to a warm shower, I’m leaving you behind.
- Accessorize: I expect to see a colorful assortment of beach balls, floaties, surfboards, and boogie boards. If you manage to get a jet ski past the police officers guarding the perimeter of the lake, I salute you.
And it’s okay if you’re not jumping this year…. just as long as you’re okay with not being a true fan. A Buckeye born and bred, a Buckeye ’till I’m dead.