Etiquette expert pens girls’ football guide

Published 2:07 am Saturday, September 10, 2011

Christie Leigh Mueller is an etiquette expert by trade who’s spending most of her time this fall talking about football.

Mueller just published Gridiron Belles: A Guide to Saturdays in Dixie, and is touring 10 SEC cities this fall to promote it. En route to today’s game in Auburn, she signed copies of the book at Walker Business’s fall open house.

Mueller said she grew up tailgating and learned from her grandmothers how to be a fan and to be passionate about football.

“My team was Auburn because my cousins went there,” she said. She opted to attend Rhodes College in Memphis because she played field hockey and wouldn’t have that opportunity on the Plains.

“I wasn’t ready to give up my own athletic identity,” she said. “But I was at a tailgate party and a game every time it was possible.”

In her book, she explains football in a way that “women can relate and men can appreciate,” shares tips for tailgating, dressing for football, and the traditions of each of the SEC schools, including cheers to know and hot spots for post-game parties. Her book is described as a “romance novel, fashion guide, etiquette handbook, advice column and football rulebook all rolled into one.”

Her top tip for tailgating? Surprisingly, it’s not about food and drinks, but seating.

“Chairs,” she said. “You want your guests to be as comfortable at a tailgate party as they are in your living room. You want them to be as welcome in your tent as they are in your home.”

She did lots of research at SEC schools before writing the book. The food was probably best at LSU, she said.

“They really push sharing their food, and it’s so good, you can’t say no. I had the best jambalaya,” she said.

In the state of Alabama, barbecue is big, but Mueller’s favorite is bite-size foods.

“It’s easier to manage,” she said.

But her favorite part of SEC football is “how we dress up,” she said.

Mueller was dressed for the local book-signing in one of her favorite AU game-day outfits, a navy lace dress accented with an orange belt and worn with high-heeled pumps.

“I’m an etiquette coach, and I love how we make everything nice in the South,” she said.

She’s also had fun putting together game-day outfits for her 10-city football tour this year.

“I’ll actually be in purple and gold one week,” she said, “and I have a whole week of crimson.”