Life hasn't been kind to Daniel Kirn lately, but that hasn't diminished his Sooner spirit nor his notion to express it.
Daniel, who years ago took 15 days to build a true Sooner Schooner — decked out with two huge coolers that fit beneath the bench seats and commode — in honor of a fallen friend, is dealing with inoperable brain cancer. His missing eye is a reminder to friends, family and fellow tailgaters what their tailgating leader is going through. But his smile and easy manner quickly overwhelm sympathy with shouts of "Boomer Sooner!"
And if that doesn't do it, he'll run the siren, which is guaranteed to get the blood flowing.
The tailgate at Felgar and Jenkins is part Sooner history, part family atmosphere and a lot of good food and drink: shish-k-bobs, bratwurst, pork chops, ham, potatoes, cauliflower, rum-soaked pineapples and anything else that sits still too long goes on the grill mounted on the front of the schooner.
The day I visited, the Sooners weren't due to destroy the Colorado Buffaloes until after 8 p.m. That didn't stop Daniel and his team from showing up at 6 a.m.
"This is an 18-hour tailgate," Daniel told me.
While the Schooner's bathroom is no longer in service thanks to the effect an all-day tailgate has on both manners and aim, it's still adorned with pictures of Sooners past and present as well as VIPs who've happened by, like Governor-elect Mary Fallin. A flat-screen television is mounted on one side for theater viewing beneath a tent made up partially of flags.
On some days, it's impossible to keep up with exactly many people happen through Daniel's tailgate. One tailgater that never gets to worked up is named Digger. The four-legged little fellow has his own chair and didn't seem to nonplussed by the activity, the siren or the football game on the TV.
Then again, it was seven hours before kickoff.