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Wi-Fi Will Have To Wait At Love’s; We’re Reminiscing

May 7th, 2012 · Tags:Satire · Sports · Uncategorized · Wi-Fi

It is difficult to return to one’s old stomping grounds without thinking of the old days.  There are reminders everywhere … the school, the cafe where high school kids congregated, the football field on the first street off the highway.  I remember all so well. Black and gold streamers, hanging from the goal posts,  blowing in the wind on an autumn night … the loud clang of the team’s victory bell when points were scored … the ceremonial walk off the field with your best girl after a hardfought victory … the words of the school song.

I can also remember a few specific plays from the gridiron.  One was funny at the time.  We used to say so cavalier that a player had “got his bell rung.’  Today of course we know the concussions in football are a very serious matter.  So, one play that stands out was the night I got my bell rung.  Ha … I took a hit on a punt return, I think.  And I can remember going into the offensive huddle and asking another player — Les — if we were on offense or defense.  That is important to know.  He told me we had the ball and pointed where to line up.  Ha … the quarterback threw me a pass, and I caught it, although I am sure I had no idea which way to run.  Probably didn’t matter, because although I caught a lot of passes, I made very few yards after the catch.

I remember a second play like it was yesterday.  In those days, I was prone to muscle cramps toward the end of games, and was either too uniformed or stubborn to sufficiently hydrate the day before or the day of a game.  So, it became all too common to see me clutching a calf and massaging a muscle in the fourth quarter.  On this second memory, a short pass play was called, and the quarterback was just firing the ball to me as I turned around, just inside the goal line.  His timing was perfect.  Just as I whipped around toward him, the ball was in flight.  All I had to do was “look it in.” I prepared to receive the ball, when two knives were stabbed into the back of my legs … well that is how it felt.

My legs buckled under my weight … Ha! … all 135 pounds of me, and I fell backwards to land flat on my back.  Apparently my focus was a little more intense in those days, because as I fell, I stretch my arms up to where my chest had been a moment earlier and I caught the pass.  Touchdown!  I clutched the ball to the ground.  The whistle blew.  And I grabbed my calves trying to convince the muscles to unlock.  Nothing like a good old muscle spasm to cut short your TD celebration.

But you know what?  I bet no one on the planet but me remembers either one of those moments, no matter how vivid they are too me.

However, there is a moment from my shortlived football career that all of my teammates remember. One did.

Yesterday, I hopped on my Triumph early and drove 15 miles to the nearest coffee shop … The Love’s Truck Stop, just about a mile West of The Cadillac Ranch on Interstate 40.  I had just sat down with a cup of coffee and purchased Wi-Fi Internet service when in walked one of my old teammates.  Jerry is a couple of years older than me.  When I was a blocking dummy (a member of the JV practice squad, he was on varsity.)  You’re right.  It is surprising that an older kid would remember something a younger junior varsity player did.

But you see, the event was monumental.  Ever guy who shared our locker room that year — I am willing to wager — remembers this moment … decades later.

Let me introduce a major player in the story — the coach.  We had a “tough-as-nails” coach, Coach D.  Coach D was loved by most and feared by all.  Respected by us and our opponents is an understatement.  He was demanding.  He was strict.  He was a disciplinarian.  He was somewhat of a perfectionist and he could be extremely intimidating. You might say he had a bit of a temper and a fiery disposition. He ate, breathed, slept football … that is if he slept … I am not so sure.

It is also important to realize just how important Friday night light football is in Texas — which makes the football coach a very important, powerful, totally respected member of the community.  I think you see the picture …

Well, one fine day in the locker room Coach D was drawing X&Os on the chalkboard before practice.  Specifically he was addressing the varsity, although all players were sitting in the locker bench seats and also lying on the floor around the room. I was sprawled out on the floor with the younger guys. And I was trying to be attentive although the instructions didn’t directly pertain to me.  LOL … During the strategic talk … Yes … I dozed off. I am told it was one of those bouts with unconsciousness where pretty much everyone saw my eyes closing and then watched the full-scale head jerk down as my neck relaxed and my chin hit my chest.

Bad idea!

Another thing about Coach D. … he didn’t miss much. Oh, he saw it develop and unfold to his disbelief.

“PING-EL!”

My German surname echoed throughout the dressing room and on into the adjoining gymnasium, just as a chalk-laden blackboard eraser hit me in the head.  No doubt my face must have looked like a kid who had buried his face in a bag a powdered sugar donuts – covered. Ha! To make matters worse I tried to be clever and said “Sorry … Uh … Coach … Uh there was something in my contact lens.”

Ha! Good comeback … NOT!  Have I mentioned I am not the best liar?

How embarrassing … And even today the legend lives on.

As for me, I respect my elders. I told Jerry that I remembered the day my knee was swollen from taking many hits, while I was being a “blocking dummy” during football practice. Even though Jerry was an upperclassman and wasn’t required or expected to, he took my place for a while and let the guys practice blocking and rolling up his leg for a while.

As for me, I tallied my second and hopefully last spinal chord injury that season. I finished out the year, despite the injury, then retired my football cleats to focus on basketball. I mean, I could read the writing on the chalkboard, so to speak.

Great to see an old friend, no matter how humiliating the memory. LOL … Later I remembered how funny it was when we used to imitate Coach D. pronouncing Jerry’s last name in his own way: “Come on ‘R-Toe!'”

In the coffee shop, we kicked around old times, talked politics, discussed careers, real estate, promotions, hunting for arrowheads and our lives after gridiron glory days.  He also introduced me to some other locals who sat down for coffee.

Probably shouldn’t have talked politics so much.  It got heated a time or two.  But we cooled down, and I really enjoyed my new acquaintance, Mr. Lamb. As he was walking out, I noticed his handmade leather belt was imprinted with his last name … except that the letter “B” was backwards … or bass akwards as we say in Vega. Mr. Lamb told me the leather crafter made a mistake, so he bought the bad belt and another one that was correct … but the “typo” belt had become his favorite because it had a good story … I like this guy!

Well, after about two hours of “old home week” I remembered that I had bought an hour pass for wireless Internet there at Love’s.  Never sent a single e-mail, tweet or even a Facebook status update. but you know what? It was some of the most enjoyable money I have spent on Wi-Fi in quite some time.

Love’s, I shall return.

Know what I sayin?