They say everyone has a double, a doppelganger, someone who’s their mirror image. What if you just met your double? What if you were a thirteen-year-old kid who’s gay and you just met your double?
Thursday Morning I saw Scott at the bus stop.
“Hey, Scott. Where were you yesterday? How’d you get home?”
“When Frank and I got to the pickup area we saw a bus, so we were able to get on just before it left. You must have missed it and took the one after it.”
“I guess. On my bus I saw those girls, Leslie and Sandra, who I talked to yesterday morning. We talked about their Sex 1A class, as Todd likes to call it. They said they didn’t learn anything they didn’t already know.”
“That’s too bad, for them. They’re cute, if you like their type,” he said, then wiggled his eyebrows.
“If I like their type? What do you mean, their type?”
“Girls,” he whispered.
I laughed, then shook my head. “You’re funny,” I told him. “Funny peculiar.”
“Hey, I thought that was funny ha-ha.”
“Actually, it was. So, you’ve never said anything more about going out for basketball. What’s the story about that?”
“I talked to Coach York, and he ran me through a few exercises. He said if I pass the physical and keep my grades up I’ll be on the team.”
“Just that? I thought he’d’ve been excited to have a big-time basketball prospect come to Wilson High.”
“Big-time prospect? Are you serious?”
“Yes, I’m serious. Remember when Todd talked to you and me about the time he played horse with you and his cousin in Chicago?”
“So, what about how you were rated as the most promising basketball player to go to Loyola High School in Chicago? I’d call that being a big-time prospect. And all the coach said is you need to pass your physical and keep your grades up? What’s with that?”
Scott blushed. “It’s embarrassing.”
“Well… he said Coach Cabot called him and they talked about me. Coach York’s going to add me to the varsity roster, and that’s the first time he’s ever had a freshman on the varsity.”
I grinned. “Cool! Congratulations. I’ll be at the games rooting for the team and especially for you.”
Scott blushed again. “Thanks, Tony. It makes me feel good to hear you say you’ll be at the games. And cheering for me. It’s just that this puts a lot of pressure on me. At Loyola I would have been on the freshman basketball team.”
He looked up and we seemed to look into each other’s eyes for a few seconds. I thought, ‘He’s going to kiss me!’ And I liked that idea, a lot.
“Hey, guys!” Frank walked up and interrupted us, so we turned and bumped fists with him. “Where were you yesterday, Tony? We got on the bus but you weren’t there.”
“Hey, I’m the one you abandoned by taking the earlier bus.”
“Excuses, excuses,” he said. “So how’s your football class?”
“Today we finally get outside and on the field. Most of it’s going to be learning and practicing our footwork, you know, how to cut when you’re running downfield to catch the ball or when you have the ball, and there’s a defender trying to catch up to you, how to keep from tripping over your own feet. Stuff like that.”
“Is this the sort of thing where they put spare truck tires on the field and you have to jump from one to the next and the next and so on, without falling on your ass?” Scott asked.
“I don’t know. I’ll tell Frank in homeroom tomorrow, then he can tell you when he sees you in your Biology class.”
“Why don’t we ask you tonight, on the bus?” Frank asked me. “We’ll wait for you, won’t we, Scott?”
“Absolutely. Tony can show us his scrapes, bumps, and bruises.”
“I won’t be able to do it tonight. After school I’m going with Todd to his house and we’re doing homework together and I’m staying for dinner and sleeping over tonight. Now that we’ve found out that we’re identical-looking cousins, we decided to go to each other’s house, mine on Tuesdays and Todd’s on Thursdays, to get to know each other better.”
“Ah ha!” Frank shouted, then in a softer voice said, “See, Scott, I told you those two were messing around.”
Scott looked at me. “Frank is certain that identical twins, and he includes identical-looking cousins, mess around.”
“In other words, you two guys are sleeping together,” Frank interjected before I could say anything. I guess my expression changed, because Frank continued, “See? See how he’s looking guilty. That proves it, Scott.”
“First, I’m not looking guilty because there isn’t anything for me to feel guilty about. Second, if Todd and I were ‘messing around’ I sure as hell wouldn’t tell anyone about it, especially you, Mr. Candler. Third, we’re not doing anything, so just forget that idea. Now keep quiet, here comes a bunch of kids and there’s our bus just making the turn off of Domingo.”
I could tell from Frank’s expression that he planned to push this question again, maybe on Tuesday when Todd and I would come home together from school to my house. I’d have to warn Todd tonight.
All of my classes were same-as, same-as until I got to PE seventh period. We had to wear our football practice jerseys. That included padded pants and jocks with cups instead of shorts, and either a blue or red T instead of the grey ones we’d usually wear for gym class. I wore a blue T because I was on the blue team for on-field practices.
We wore sneakers, not cleats, for the first practice. We started by doing stretching and warmup exercises. Then we got into a lot of movement exercises, none with tires. We practiced moving in every direction, but mostly sideways and backwards to improve our ability to get out of the way of defenders and to follow an opposing player until we could block or tackle him. I didn’t have any problem with the moves, especially the sideways ones.
When we were more or less worn out, Coach Kavanaugh looked at us and shook his head. He picked up his megaphone and started to talk to us. “Time to take a breather, men. Move in closer if you need to so you can hear me. I’ve got some things to tell you.
“You’ve been told that we’d be having practices after school. Well, the plan has changed. The JV team needs the practice field after school, so they’re going to get it. Our practice sessions are moving to period zero.”
There were some groans from a few of the thirty-seven guys lying on the grass. The rest of us were probably as confused as I was.
Coach Kavanaugh continued, “Wilson High has a period zero that’s used for remedial and makeup classes, ESL classes which are for non-English speakers so they can learn English, and electives like computer programming. Since we can’t use the practice field after school, we’re going to take advantage of period zero for our practice.
“It’s before school. Period zero starts at seven o’clock in the a.m. If you have a period zero class it replaces homeroom. We take the same roll that your homeroom would take. You go from your period zero class directly to your period one class.”
Now everyone was groaning, but Coach Kavanaugh ignored us and used his megaphone to talk right over the noise.
“It’s an hour long, fifteen minutes longer than normal class periods. We’re going to meet and have on-field practice on Mondays and Wednesdays, and on any Fridays if we don’t have a game that afternoon. On Tuesdays and Thursdays we’ll be in the weight training room using the equipment and free weights doing guided exercises.
“Because you’re starting earlier in the morning, I have some requirements and suggestions. First, a suggestion. Don’t bother showering at home before you come to morning practice. You’ll shower after every morning practice; that is mandatory, which means it’s a requirement. We’re going to check so don’t try to sneak out without showering.
“Don’t eat a big breakfast before coming to morning practice. Instead eat a power bar or something similar that’s not heavy. We’re going to hand out a suggested menu for you guys. I recommend that you sit down with your mom or whoever does the cooking at home and plan your meals. The cafeteria will have a special meal every day at lunch for everyone on the football teams, varsity, JV, and freshman.
“I’ve met with the guys who tried out and didn’t make it for some reason. All of you here have made it this far, and are on the squad. We’ll be picking the first and second team members for offense and defense between now and our first game, which will be against Campo High’s freshman team on the twelfth of September.
“Game time will be three thirty, and will be right here on Garrison Field. Invite your friends and relatives. It’s always a lot more fun when people you know are in the stands cheering. The JV game will be at five thirty but is played on the opponent’s field, then the varsity game will be at seven thirty on Garrison Field. You’ll be excused from your eighth period classes so you can get suited up and be ready to go. We clear this with all of the eighth period teachers every year, so there shouldn’t be any problem about missing class material or tests. You will have to keep up with the material and your homework. If there is a problem let me know right away and I’ll talk to your teacher and get it taken care of. Remember that you have to keep your grades up, a C or better in all of your classes, to stay on the team.
“We’ll travel to away games by bus. You’ll come to your seventh period PE class and have thirty minutes to suit up and board the bus. There are only three away games. You can see who we play and where they are on the schedule. Again, you will have to make up any work or tests you miss because of being excused from your eighth period classes. And again, we’ve already coordinated that with your teachers.
“I have the playbooks for each of the offense and the defense players. Coach Bowman will take you guys who are on the defense squad and work with you separately. You can head out with him after I’m finished. I’ll be working with the offense.
“The coaching staff has decided that we’re going to use the Double Wing offense. Those of you on the offense are to study it in detail, and those of you on defense are to read about it; it’s in your Offensive Football Systems textbook. Here’s a quote from the chapter on the Double Wing describing what it is. I want you to read the entire chapter and be able to quote it and answer questions about it:
“‘The basic alignment of the double wing is to have two tight ends, two wing backs, tight line splits, and a fullback close behind the quarterback. The double wing is a power running offense that relies on the ‘toss’ play. One wing back goes in quick motion, receives a pitch, and follows the lead blockers: two pulling linemen, a fullback, a wingback, a tight end, the quarterback, and half of the offensive line.’
“Let’s talk about practice. We don’t have full-contact practice drills. You’ll go up against blocking and tackling dummies and use other methods to prepare yourselves for our games.
“Finally, our team manager, Jeff Liu, will hand out our game schedule and menus. Jeff, stand up so the team can see who you are.”
A tall, skinny Asian guy with bleached-blond hair stood up and waved. Some of the guys knew him because they called out, “Hey, Jeff!” or “Hi, Jeff!”
“Any questions?” Coach asked.
There were a lot of questions. I had a few, and I could tell there were a lot of others with their own set. I put up my hand.
“I’ll start with Tony.” He pointed to me.
“Coach, does that mean that we won’t have any players who play both offense and defense?”
“That’s right. We have enough players to fully man separate offense and defense units for this year’s freshman football team.”
Parker raised his hand, and Coach Kavanaugh recognized him.
“Coach, I see on our schedules that our first game is home against Campo on the twelfth and home against Del Rio on the eighteenth. The eighteenth is a Thursday, not a Friday. What’s the deal with that?”
“Thanks for asking that, Parker. Del Rio is travelling here from Sacramento and they had a bus scheduling problem. They asked to have the freshman and JV games on Thursday, and the varsity game on Friday.”
“Coach, you said we’d have weight training on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Will that be during period zero, and if so, what will we do during seventh period PE?”
“Another good question, Tony. On the Tuesdays and Thursdays that we have weight training, it will be during seventh period PE and we won’t have a period zero those days. This will be on the schedule that Jeff will hand out to you today.”
“My folks are still freaked about concussions,” Jiago said. “They want to know if we’re getting helmets that will protect us against them.”
“The helmets we’re getting are the best available. But no helmet is going to absolutely prevent getting a concussion. There’s a new law that takes effect starting in January. But our school district, like many others, is going to follow it starting this season. Last year the law required that if you got a concussion you had to sit out of the rest of the game and at least a full day before any physical exercise or football practice. The new law says you have to sit out for a full week so you can fully recover from a mild concussion. If you don’t recover that means it’s a serious concussion so you’ll be out for the rest of the season.” There was some grumbling, but I thought that made a lot of sense. “That’s what we’re going to do. You can tell your folks that you’re being protected not only by good equipment but by a policy that puts your health and wellbeing before anything else.”
Someone asked, “Are we going to have period zero on-field practice starting tomorrow morning?” I couldn’t see who it was.
“Yes. So go to bed early tonight so you’ll be here on time tomorrow morning.” We all laughed.
Pete Ross stood up. “Coach, I heard a rumor from one of the groundskeepers that we’re having practice this Saturday. Is that just a rumor, or is it true? I need to know so I can arrange with someone to fill in for me at work on Saturday.” Again, there were a bunch of groans.
“It depends on how our practice sessions go tomorrow, both in the morning and seventh period. I’m pushing for a Saturday practice to get ready for next week. We’ll let you know seventh period tomorrow.”
“Coach, that’s not enough time for me to find a sub,” Pete said.
“Okay, let’s do this. We will have a Saturday practice session from eight a.m. to one p.m. This will not be a usual occurrence, but we will repeat it if we find it’s necessary and give you at least two day’s notice.”
“Thanks, Coach,” Pete said as he sat down.
There were other questions, but I sort of zoned out because they were mostly asking Coach to repeat things he’d already told us or stuff I didn’t care about, like questions about what we were to wear to practice tomorrow, who’d man the blocking and tackling dummies, and lots of stuff I immediately forgot.
After the Q and A session we did more stretching exercises, including some yoga stretches. I found that real interesting. We went in and showered, then I went to my Creative Writing class. Ms. Porzio didn’t say anything to me about my leaving class early the day before. I still felt bad about lying to her about why I needed to bail early, but like my grandma says, ‘A hen can’t unlay an egg just like you can’t undo something you messed up.’
I saw Todd at the pick-up area after eighth period.
When he saw me, he called out, “Hey, Tony!” and waved.
“Hey, Todd!” I responded, and walked to where he stood. “Ready to walk home?”
“We’re gonna get a ride. Mom’s going to pick us up and we’re going to that deep-dish pizza place to pick up a couple take-and-bake pizzas for dinner tonight.”
“Sounds good,” I said.
“Are you all banged up from your practice this afternoon?”
“Nope. I’m good.”
Scott and Frank joined us.
“So, tell us about your first football practice, Tony,” Scott said.
“Well, first I really had a lot of fun at the practice session. The only bad thing was when Coach Kavanaugh got us together and told us about morning on-field practice and weight training sessions during period zero. Do you guys know about period zero?”
“What’s period zero?” Frank asked.
“Wilson High has a period zero that starts at seven o’clock in the morning.” I told them what it’s used for, and that it’s an hour long, fifteen minutes longer than normal class periods.
“Why are they making you do that?” Todd asked.
“We can’t use the practice field after school because the JV team has dibs on it. So besides seventh period, we’re going to have practices in the morning during period zero.”
“Man, that sucks,” Scott said. Frank nodded his agreement.
“Are you going to have on-field practice tomorrow morning?” Todd asked.
“Yeah, it’ll be the first one. So I’m going to have to get up early so I can be at school just before seven.”
“That means you’re going to have to get up around six so you have time to shower and eat breakfast,” Todd said.
“I’ll set my alarm for six thirty and eat something light for breakfast when I get up, like a power bar or a peanut butter sandwich. I’m not going to shower.”
“You’re not going to smell very good when you get to homeroom,” Frank said.
“I beg to differ, I’m going to smell all fresh and clean. Coach told us that we’ll have lots of time to shower after morning practicesessions. He said showers are mandatory, no excuses.”
“That ‘no excuses’ part seems weird to me,” Scott said. “Are there actually guys who don’t want to shower after practicing?”
“It is weird,” I agreed. “I know I’d always want to take a shower after getting hot and sweaty. The hard spray from a shower also helps sore muscles feel better. I guess some guys are embarrassed to be naked in the shower, or they’re just pigs.”
Frank laughed. “It’s probably because they’re afraid they’ll get a hard-on.”
“That doesn’t happen,” Scott said. “After an intense practice you’re so worn out and sore that you couldn’t get it up if you wanted to. Do you agree, Tony?”
“Yeah, I agree. All I wanted to do after today’s practice was to get under the shower and just stay there until school was over. But Coach shagged us out so we wouldn’t be late for our eighth period classes.”
“You’ll be a zombie if you’re having practices in the morning,” Todd said.
“No more than the guys who have first period PE,” Scott said.
“I had first period PE last semester at Southern Hills,” Frank said. “I’d be real tired at the beginning of second period, but then I’d sort of come to by the time it was half over.”
“Where’s Southern Hills?” Scott asked.
“That’s where I went to middle school when I lived in Boulder, Colorado. We moved here less than a month before the school year ended, and I enrolled at Edison. Imagine what it was like for me to take finals when the classes here were different than the classes at Southern Hills. I did okay, but I plan to get all A’s this year.”
“What were your grades at Edison like? Uh, if you don’t mind telling us,” Scott asked.
“Four A’s, one B, one C, and a ‘passing’ in PE. The C was bogus. I got it in California History and Government. They don’t teach California history or California government in Colorado schools. I had to guess at the answers.”
“Man, that is bogus,” I said. “You should have fought them about that,” Scott said.
“They refused, saying the teacher gave me the C as a gift. I actually got a D on the final.”
“It’s still bogus,” Scott grumbled.
“Besides our period zero practice, we’re having a practice session Saturday morning too,” I said.
“You gotta be kidding,” Frank said.
“Nope, we need it to get ready for our first game on the twelfth. It’s at three-thirty, and I expect all three of you to be there to cheer us on. We’re playing the Campo freshman team.”
“Hey, Tony, there’s my mom,” Todd said. “Let’s truck!”
We said goodbye to Scott and Frank and headed to the car and climbed in. As usual, Todd sat in the passenger seat and I sat behind him.
“Hi, boys. How was school today?”
“Aunt Nora, why do mothers always ask that question?” I asked. “We always answer it the same, ‘It was okay.’”
“I ask it because I’m interested, because it’s a conversation starter, because it should be non-threatening, and because once in a great while my son, your cousin Todd, actually answers with something other than, ‘It was okay.’ So, how was school today, Tony?”
“We had our first freshman football practice on the field. We didn’t wear cleats, that’ll come next week. Coach Kavanaugh told us that starting tomorrow morning we’re going to have practice sessions on Mondays and Wednesdays, and on Fridays if we don’t have a game that afternoon. They’re going to be during period zero, that’s from seven to eight a.m. Period zero will replace my going to homeroom, too. They’ll take roll in my period zero practice sessions and turn it in to the office. When my period zero practice is over, and I’ve taken my shower, I’ll go directly to my period one class. That’s English. I’ll need to get up by six thirty tomorrow so I have time to eat a power bar and brush my teeth and walk to school. We’re having a practice Saturday morning, too.” Aunt Nora saw me grin and she chuckled.
“Well, that was interesting. I see your motor mouth is still in good condition.” I blushed at that remark.
“Mom, Tony’s not going to shower before he goes to school tomorrow.”
“I noticed that he didn’t mention showering. That makes sense if he’s going to shower after his practice. Am I right, Tony?”
“Exactly! You figured it out, Aunt Nora,” I replied.
“You two have to remember that all of us ‘older folks’ started off as kids like you. We went through a lot of the same things, like our mothers asking, ‘How was school today?’ and giving the same kinds of answers that you give us today. At least what you normally give. Once in a while we learn more about what your school day is like. Tony’s reply is the longest I’ve heard so far this school year. Todd, since this is your first year in high school, I would guess that there’s a lot that’s new for you. Am I right?”
“Yeah, I guess so. It’s just that after being in school all day it’s hard to think about what might be interesting to tell you.”
“Actually,” I said, “there’s stuff that I’ll bet is a lot different than when you went to high school, Aunt Nora. Like last week in English with Ms. Holbrook, we had to take a grammar quiz. What was cool is after we turned in our test papers we had a quiz show. She’d pick four kids to come sit at the front, facing us. Then she had each of them read a question and the answer from someone’s answer sheet. Then we had a discussion about the answers and voted on which one was right. After that Ms. Holbrook told us the correct answers. She explained why that answer was correct, and gave examples so we could hear what it sounded like in a sentence. After going through all four questions she thanked the four kids and had them give her the answer sheets. Then she picked four others to come up and we went through four more questions.”
I took a deep breath, and this let Todd interrupt me and ask a question.
“How’d she keep the kids from knowing whose answer sheet they were using?” he asked.
“They had numbers instead of the names of who filled out the answers. She made sure no one got their own answer sheet. It worked out because there are exactly twenty eight kids in my English class, that’s seven groups of four.”
“Okay, I understand now,” Todd said.
“Anyway, it was a lot of fun. We never had anything like that in middle school. I learned some grammar rules I hadn’t been sure about. Hearing how it sounds in a sentence makes it easier for me to pick the right answer now.”
“You’re right, Tony. We never had anything like that in my English classes,” Aunt Nora said. “It sounds like a good way to learn. Did you have this same kind of grammar quiz show in your English class, Todd?”
“No. I wish we did. Mr. Stafford isn’t much for learning games and stuff like that. We just listened to him tell us about the rules then he gave us a surprise quiz.
“Tony, I have a question. How did you get it all done in one period?” Todd asked. “Seems like you wouldn’t have had enough time.”
“We finished the next day. Then after the last group of questions, she gave us a surprise quiz. It wasn’t really a surprise because we’d sort of figured out that’s what she’d do. Anyway, it took us almost two full days. But when she handed the surprise quiz back she said she was proud of us because everyone answered all the questions correctly.”
We arrived at the pizza place and went in to see the choices. Todd and I picked sausage, pepperoni, tomatoes, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, and olives. Aunt Nora said that sounded good and ordered both deep-dish pizzas made that way.
When we got back in the car Aunt Nora told us she had to do some grocery shopping. I could hear Todd grumble under his breath, but Aunt Nora missed it. She drove to a shopping center that had a Safeway and some other stores. I saw Todd’s eye open wide.
“Hey, Mom. Can Tony and I walk down to BuyMart? You can call me when you’re ready to leave and we’ll go outside so you can pick us up.”
“Okay. Just be sure you’re outside when I come by. No dawdling in the store thinking you still have a few minutes more.”
“Nah, we’ll come right out as soon as I get your call.”
“I’ll make sure we’re out there, Aunt Nora,” I said. I turned to Todd. “Your cell is turned on and not in airplane mode, right?”
“Yup.” He pulled it out of his pocket and showed me. “See, it’s good to go.”
“How ‘bout I drop you off at BuyMart so you won’t have to waste any time walking?”
She dropped us off and we waved, then walked into the store.
“What do you want to look at?” I asked.
“Video games, of course.”
We looked at some of the demo games. I checked out the Xbox games and Todd looked at the PS3 games. After a few minutes I turned to ask him a question and saw that he’d walked over to the PS4 display. I walked over and joined him.
“Thinking about asking your folks for a PS4 for your birthday?”
“Yeah. That would be totally cool. Like there’s a saying, ‘It never hurts to ask. It only hurts when the answer isn’t what you wanted.’”
“Where did you hear that?”
“I invented it. I sat down and wrote it out one day as part of a story for my creative writing class in the eighth grade.” He grinned.
“Uh huh. I don’t think so,” I said.
Todd started laughing. “I read it, or something like it, somewhere. I did use it in my story.”
“Can I borrow it the next time I need to include something in one of my stories?” I wiggled my eyebrows.
“Sure. That’s what identical cousins do, we share things. Right?”
“Right! You want to look at the computer department?”
“Sure. Let’s do it.”
I wanted to get a new lightweight laptop to replace the old HP my dad gave me when he bought a new one. I wandered around looking at all of the different models and the prices. The ones that I like the best were the ones with the higher prices. I especially liked the Microsoft Surface Pro 3. It was great. It ran all the Microsoft Windows 10 software, it came with Microsoft Office, and it could be used as both a laptop and a tablet. Trouble was the price, almost twelve hundred dollars including tax. Way too much. There were less expensive laptops, including some just over five hundred dollars that would be good. I wrote down the name, model number, and price of each of the ones I liked.
When I found Todd he was on his cell.
“Your mom?” I asked.
“No, Heather. She’s all pissed at us for not getting together with her about the election. I sort of committed us, you and me, to meet with her Saturday afternoon at three. That’s after your practice. Will that be okay?”
“Yeah. That’ll give me time to have some lunch and relax. Where does she live?”
“On Montego. That’s about halfway between my house and school. We can walk to her house, no problem.”
“Okay. Sounds like a plan.”
Todd’s ringtone started playing. He answered, and said, “Okay, we’re on our way.” I assumed, correctly, that his mom had called him.
“She’ll be out front in a minute or two,” he said.
That night at dinner Todd’s dad, my Uncle Dennis, began asking about my trying out for the freshman football team.
“How’s it going, Tony?”
I grinned. “Really, really good. I made the squad, and I’m on the blue team. I like the exercising in the weight training room, I like learning about football offense and defense, and going out for practice.”
“Have you been having any contact yet?”
“No, that will start next week. But it won’t be full contact, mostly we’ll use blocking and tackling dummies. That’s because of the new law. It doesn’t take effect until January, but our school district is going to follow it this year.”
“I read about the law. What do you think about that?”
“It’s okay. I’ve never played football before, so I really don’t have an opinion about it.”
“How about playing football? Do you think you’ll like that?”
“I think I’ll like the part where I figure out how to get out of the defensive player’s way and not get hit.”
“So you think you’ll be playing on the offense?”
“Yeah. We all have to learn defense too, both so we understand what the defenses will do to try to stop us, and for practice against the red team. Uh, we have two groups, blue team and red team, that’s the color of the jerseys we wear when we practice.”
“How often do you practice?”
I told him our practice schedule, including the Saturday practice, then I talked about the double wing offense, and he seemed real interested. I noticed that Todd and Aunt Nora seemed bored.
When he stopped for a second I used that as an opportunity to interrupt and ask him a question. “Uncle Dennis, did you play football in high school?”
“Yes, I did, and in college too. We played double wing my first two years in high school. In my junior year we had a sophomore who could throw farther than any high school kid I’d ever seen. What was great is that he was dead-on accurate. We had a line made up of mostly juniors, and a number of running backs who were significant threats to break through and score. We played a variant of the West Coast offense. It was pretty new back then, and most teams we played didn’t see it enough to become good at defending our combination of pass and run. After high school I went to U.C. Berkeley and played for two years, then the pressure of pre-law got to me and I dropped football.”
I found that real interesting, but I could see Todd pointing toward his room. When we got there he closed his door and flopped down on the bed.
“Well, that was boring. That was what, the fourth or fifth time I’ve heard your story?”
“The third time. But not really, because you weren’t listening. So two times, or a maybe one and a half times. You have a low threshold of boredom, Cousin.”
“Well, you have a propensity to repeat stuff about football, over and over and over again.”
“Ooo, propensity, a big word. I’m impressed.”
“I’ll show you what my propensity is, Anthony McKinley!” Todd jumped up and pulled me into a hug, staring eye-to-eye. Then he kissed me, and I kissed him back, a very long, sensuous kiss.
“I love you, Todd,” I said.
“And I love you too, Tony. Now, I have something important to tell you.” He pushed us apart, shoved me onto his bed, then lay down next to me. “So, here’s what’s happened to me,” he said.
Thanks to Cole Parker for editing A Time When It All Went Wrong
There are a lot of American football terms in this story. Not everyone, especially those of you who don’t live in North America, will understand them. Fortunately, the internet can come to your rescue.
There’s a quick introduction to American football with pictures at https://myfootballmentor.com/category/football-basics/.
Wikipedia has a glossary of American football terms at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glossary_of_American_football and I recommend it as a source to reduce confusion.
There’s an image of a American high school football field with dimensions at http://www.sportsknowhow.com/football/field-dimensions/high-school-football-field-dimensions.html.
If you're not interested in football, you can skim over those sections of the story. Tony would understand, and Todd might even agree with you.
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