"This is kind of a scary thing," Corb remarked, as we navigated our way through a flock of pom-pommed pre-teens.
Click here, then scratch and see if you can catch a whiff of something new: a sense that there's a nice bright light at the end of the "tunnel o' nocompromises."
"It really is, "I replied, and stepped away from him to avoid two boys who were chasing each other across the field.
"I mean, it's like a cult. It's just conditioning these kids at an early age to value cliques, and to see themselves as better than everyone else."
"I think it goes farther than that," I replied. "It sets a pattern that lasts into their adult lives, of relying on their own group of jock friends to get what they want in life. People don't always get what the deserve, they get it because Biff or Chuck played tight end with you in Pop Warner, so he lines up a nice cushy job for you. The one that Simon there's not going to get, because he doesn't have the right connections."
Our team is red hot...
"But if you look at CEOs and heads of companies," argued Corb, punching his hand against the goalpost. "They don't get their jobs that way. Most of those people were the geeks in junior high and high school."
"Because this kind of activity doesn't teach you creativity, or the skills you need to move the world forward," I said. "It only teaches you drive and persistency, and if you're a girl, to look great while waving a pair of pom poms. Where is she?"
"Come on team, you can do it...
"Right there," said Corb, pointing the cheerleaders on the north side of the field. And there was Ashley, at the end of the row of cheerleaders, looking adorable in her red and white outfit, with her hair pulled back.
Let's snap to it..
"No, silly, I meant Josie," I replied. "Do you see her in the stands?"
Corb sized up the bleachers. "Over there," he replied, and pointed to my left. There she was, wearing her large dark sunglasses, sitting on a thin metal bleacher and balancing an iced coffee on her knee.
I watched Ashley execute a cheer for a minute. The girls finished up and started to scream, and Ashley looked my way, and I smiled, giving her the thumbs up sign. She recognized me, and her features relaxed a bit, and she smiled back.
"God, I hate what this whole thing represents," I said to Corb. "The menfolk get on the field and accomplish the real work, while the womenfolk sit idly on the sidelines, cheering their guys on in perky little miniskirts. I tell you, I have more and more admiration for Amber, right now." Pauline's daughter wanted to join the high school football team in the worst way, even though she wasn't even 100 pounds soaking wet. Hey there!"
We sat down next to Josie, who made room for us in the bleachers.
"Isn't this great?" I asked her, forgetting about my sermon from four seconds ago. "Our little girl, a cheerleader?" I looked over at the hometeam cheerleaders. "But, hmmm, she doesn't look very happy...grrr, I don't like that..."
"You're not going to whine through this whole thing, are you?" growled Josie. "Hi Corbett."
"How were the kids last night?" I asked, and settled into the cold metal bleacher.
"They were fine," she replied, "Ashley slept over Chris's house and Tiger and I watched a movie together. Did you guys have a nice night?"
"We went out to a club," I said.
"So you're hung over," she replied.
"No," I said, and stretched out my legs. "I only had one drink. I'm just tired."
"I've never seen anyone who can lie down in bed and just fall asleep in seconds," said Corb to Josie, and I worried, for a moment, that the detail might be too intimate.
"I never used to be able to do that," I grinned, "I guess I'm getting old."
"You got that right," snorted Josie.
"Old man," said Corb playfully.
I grinned and turned away, focusing my attention on Ashley's cheers.
U-G-L-Y, you aint got no alibi...
"You think that's bad, I kept closing my eyes and falling asleep during the movie," said Josie to Corb. "And Tiger kept hitting me. It drives Alex crazy when I do that."
"It always drove me crazy when you did that," I replied, giving Ashley a thumbs up and twisting my head back in Josie's direction. "Josie doesn't understand the sacred mystery of movies. You know...this is totally random, by the way...one time, when we were first living together, we decided to have a movie night, and each rent one movie that we thought was totally romantic. So I picked Camelot , and she spent the whole movie chewing off these Lee press-on nails that she had on. It was so irritating. There's King Arthur going on about handling a woman, and all I can hear is click click click, as she's gnawing away at her nails."
"You thought Camelot was romantic?" said Corb, wrinkling his nose.
"I know, I don't see it either," agreed Josie.
I decided to ignore them. "After I drop Corb off, I want to mow the lawn. Can I eat over tonight?"
"I guess," said Josie, with a bit of a tone.
"What's the matter?" I asked.
"No, I'm just wondering what I have to make you," she replied. There was a whoop, and we all turned around. On the field, one of the boys on our team had grabbed the ball and was making there way to the end zone. We applauded politely and returned to our conversation. "I have some steak and sausage from when Alex cooked for us the other night."
"I don't want none of Alex's stinking leftovers," I replied, jokingly. "Especially his sausage."
"Aw, but it's a nice big sausage," replied Josie. "You'd like it, really."
I shook my shoulders, laughing. "No thanks."
"Good," she replied, and slurped at her iced coffee. "I don't like sharing his sausage, anyway. I'm possessive that way."
"Since when?" I asked, and winked at her. She laughed and threated to hit me.
"Hey look, everyone's getting up and walking to the other side of the field," said Corb, tapping my shoulder.
"Must be half time," replied Josie.
"Let's stay where we are, and watch it from here," I said, uncrossed my legs, and leaned my back against the bleachers. And I thought, "Well, maybe everything's going to be all right, after all."
Scene fades as camera starts to pull away from our heroes, who are talking animatedly. The camera widens to take in the other spectators in the stands, then the cheerleaders on the sidelines, then the players on the field, and eventually it starts to swing up, toward the cool blue September sky, as the music plays and the credits start to roll...