Friday, September 21, 2007

Friday Night Lights

I could have been in Anytown, USA tonight, as I observed the Friday Night high school football cultural experience. Each week is the same as I imagine it in any small town that offers little else to do on Friday night. I enjoy seeing how the whole town seems to come out, not just to support their team, but for the social event of it all. Tonight was like most nights when I arrived; scads of kids milling around (not watching the game, but behind the stands, holding hands, laughing, wrestling, bursting into loud laughter.) When the tenth kid tore past me blindly, I commented to a friend that whenever this happens, I have to stifle an urge to stick my foot out. Why is that? Anyway, tonight turned out to be an exceptional evening, as soon after I arrived, before I even got to sit down to watch The Boy perform in the marching band, it began to rain. The scoreboard showed a home field disadvantage (21 to 9) early in the first quarter. When lightening lit up the sky and the band marched off the field, heading toward the high school, I decided to sit in the car and wait for The Boy.

It’s interesting to sit in a quiet car and observe the action all around you when it begins to downpour. Many folks hustled out to their cars to grab rain gear. Many a parent in a yellow slip of a rain poncho walked past (“Their poor kids,” I chuckled. “How embarrassing.”) The middle schoolers, of course, stood in the rain, football jerseys pulled over their heads in some cases, t-shirts sticking to torsos, stringy hair plastered to faces, pant bottoms dragging in puddles. My gaze fell on a huddle of kids at the fence, laughing and pointing at something in the parking lot. I looked over to see a huge, black pickup truck rocking back and forth, its inhabitants clearly putting on a show for the kids. I pulled ahead a bit, parking along the fence further up, with the hope that I might see the soaked football players going at it. In front of my car, I observed some high school kids outside the fence; the biggest guy in a tan Carhart coat, opening it periodically for his friends to stick their heads in and ?? while the rest stood guard. It was pouring, and yet many, many kids were still standing around, oblivious to the downpour, reluctant to leave the social scene. Soon, The Boy came up, soaking wet, to tell me he’d catch a ride home with his friend, a neighbor. “Are you sure?!” I asked. “You’re soaking wet!” “Heck yes!” he shivered. “My friends are here! Thanks for waitiing.” No problem. It was entertaining.

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