I just got in the door from a memorable evening. An evening spent with two dear friends in the stands of a high school football game. My first high school football game in over 30 years, mind you.
The last high school football game I was at on a Friday night was one I was in. My life back then was centered around football. It engulfed me from early April until late November. I've written about it here in the past. I won't bore you with all of that again.
My best friend in the entire world calls me up the other day and asks if I'd like to go see his daughter do her thing with her dance troupe during half-time at the football game of the high school she attends. As luck would have it, I could attend, and so I did. I didn't think for a second about having Football Flashbacks or High School Hallucinations. I was just thrilled that my friend and I were going to get to spend some time together. Then, I found out that his ex-wife, a fabulous person who I haven't seen in years, would be there as well. Back in "The Day", the three of us logged many, many hours hanging out together. I was their pothead friend who never knew when it was time to go home. The guy who spilled beer on the carpet and burned a hole in the sofa with a joint. Remember that guy in your life? Well, that guy was me.
So, I found myself tonight, sitting amongst a crowd of proud parents, self-involved teenagers, and awe-struck gradeschoolers, watching the pageantry that is High School Football with two people whose most easily-accessed memory of me involved Pink Floyd's "The Wall" and the lingering smell of dirty bongwater. It was, like, layers of weirdness for me, because I was reminded of things I used to be, but no longer am.
I LOVED every second of it.
I loved the chaos of the crowd, but was drawn immediately to the exhilaration of the players - they were SO excited to be suited up, like warriors, in pads and helmets. They jumped up and down before the game began, and smacked their helmeted heads together. I couldn't help by chuckle at the littlest and scrawniest. Some of them were 5'5" or 5'6" and maybe weighed 140 pounds. Didn't matter. These boys meant business!
The cheerleaders kept busy performing for the crowd, chanting things which I had a real difficult time deciphering (I swear to God, at one point a cheer was about someone having "big lips" - I think...Maybe I'm just going deaf in my old age...), shaking their pom-poms (because nothing says "spirit" more than looking like you've got Parkinson's Disease), waving to their boyfriends in the stands, and checking their hair - both their own, and each others. These young ladies also meant business.
The band pulled off what I simply must refer to as a Clusterfuck during half-time. As if playing your instrument while standing up isn't challenging enough, what sadist decided that making these kids march forwards, backwards, side-to-side, in between each other - to form moving representations of Davy Crockett at The Alamo and the signing of the Declaration of Independence - was a good idea? There was a group of kids twirling flags. Another group twirling staffs, or batons. Another group doing an interpretive dance that had me completely confused. It was a swirl of movement and color and I had no idea what the hell was happening, but I was laughing and hooting and allowing the hoopla to wash over me. How they pulled it off, I'll never know, but one thing was certain: the band was amazing. When the Band Nerd parents cheered, I cheered right along with them.
When my friend's daughter, Emily, and her dance troupe came out, my jaw hit the floor. Here was a little girl whom I recall as being about 3 years old now all grown up, in a sparkley costume with a low cut front and showing leg all the way up to her neck, dancing like a poised and talented young woman. All smiles and jazz hands. Oh, my God, she was beautiful and I was old. The routine was to a version of AC/DC's "You Shook Me All Night Long" which, until you've heard done on trumpet and trombone, you just haven't heard!
Her parents, my friends, beamed. And I beamed, too. Everybody in the stands over 40 was beaming at somebody, at some point. Suddenly, I wanted to parent a teenager. For, like, 30 seconds, maybe. I get carried away, you know.
Something interesting I found out was that this high school is being used by the producers of the fall television series "Friday Night Lights", which premieres Tuesday night. The school is very excited about this. Their school, locker rooms, auditorium, and some football game coverage, will be featured throughout the season. Lots of filming is occurring and kids are hoping they'll be seen on the show. Now I'll be glued to my set on Tuesday nights as well, looking for shots of Emily.
And I doubt this will be my last high school football game.
It was just wonderful.