October 14, 2011. Picture it. Dusk. 7:15 p.m. A suburban high school football field, 70ish degrees with a clear sky, the players running onto the field, the crowd rowdy, M-80’s going off, teenagers running every which way. I’m (close to) middle-aged and out of my element, in my convertible, top down (the car), and I’m early. I wasn’t supposed to get there until half-time. I open my cell phone.
“Carla! I’m here! Where are YOU?”
“Uh … you’re EARLY.”
Me, “OK. What do you want me to do?”
Carla, “I’ll be right there. Don’t MOVE.”
Who am I?
Back story: A coworker and friend, Carla, asked if she could borrow my convertible and, well, ME, to chauffer one of her daughters with her daughter’s boyfriend around the football field at half time as part of the homecoming celebration. Naturally I said yes.
I’m so glad I did. And I’m glad there was a communications gaff that placed me there early because I got to witness a high school football game once again.
Well that’s not entirely true. The game was a “fond-memory-type” backdrop to the HOOPLA going on in the stands. Holy Toledo!
The Drum Major! The band! The Pep Squad (peppy indeed)! The cheerleaders! The cacophony and the sheer mass of high school students relentlessly moving and shouting and squealing, having decorated themselves with glitter and paint and bright yellow spandex. Did I ever have that much energy? Had I ever entertained the notion of a painted glittering handprint on my thigh … in maroon?
At one point, I turned to Carla and said “If you notice me quivering, it’s only because I’m way over-stimulated.” (shiver)
Those young adults were so alive and glowing and, whatever their inner travails might have been, they were happy that evening. And it was joy to witness.
None too soon the time came to descend from the stands and start the car. It was ready to go: The top was down and Carla and I placed beach towels over the seating area and the back seat. The Deputies lined us up with the other convertibles and we waited for the end of the first half.
As an aside, I’ve NEVER seen a football game so one-sided. The opponent (and guest!) was being slaughtered! Poor things! The score was 49 – ZIP at the end of the half.
So the homecoming candidates were assembled. I won’t pretend to know what all was going on. Someone else was in charge. Yippee. I chatted up the other convertible drivers. One had a schweet, cherry 442. Purrrr.
Next, the kids were going through the pomp and circumstance at the 50 yard line, being presented to the crowd. Meanwhile the cars moved around the field at a moderate pace to get in position. We slowly cruised around to the stands. Carla was in the passenger seat. (As IF I would do this without her.)
So the field ceremony comes to a close and the homecoming kids (runners up, too) climbed into the 5 or 6 waiting convertibles and endured the paparazzi and screams of delight.
First up, the yearbook staff snapped numerous photos. Now … remember Carla and I are in the car, too. So … uh … we might be in the YEARBOOK!!! Ha ha ha! BWA ha ha ha!
Then I am signaled to move forward, following the vehicles in front of us. What a hoot! I grinned the whole time. The high schoolers lined the fence around the track/field and shouted “We LOVE you!” over and over. The two kids in my car kept saying “I feel like a movie star!” And, indeed! Why not? Who could blame them. They were!
Twice around the track then back to the stable for me.
I came away from the event feeling connected and so glad I could help some fine young people have such a great evening. The feeling of community and family was heady for me.
I thank Carla and her family for including me. And I want that yearbook photo!!