[This is part of my regularly random series entitled "Blasts From the Past".]
With barely enough kids to field an entire team, the grid-iron that day was not kind to our son's inexperienced, out-sized and out-manned middle school football squad. And to say that his team was the underdog is rather an understatement. The ominous feeling of doom began even before the game started, as my husband and I watched both teams run onto the field: from one side, a swarm of ants; from the other, a herd of giants. Questions began filling the air like a Jeopardy show: "Why are their coaches dressed in football uniforms? Those are PLAYERS?! Are we even at the right field?? There is no way those are middle school kids! Are you sure that isn't their high school team?! Those are middle school kids?!? Are you kidding me?!? Do you think we should start praying?? Are we paid up on our insurance??!
Inevitably, we were faced with the grim reality: we were at the right football field; those giants dressed in the opposing uniforms were not coaches, or high school kids, but were indeed, middle school boys; prayer was our best, and eventually our only defense; and, thankfully our health insurance policy was in good standing. Let the slaughter. . . er. . .game begin.
Because our regular quarterback was injured (or maybe he'd gotten wind about the opposition) the duty of leading our team to victory fell squarely onto my 85 pound, 13 year old son's shoulders. Not only was our son among the youngest in his grade, he was also one of the smallest players on our team. But what he lacked in stature, he made up for with "heart." However, heart was not what our team needed. We needed armor, and muscles, and testosterone, and about 20 more players.
One player in particular from the opposing team revealed our side's weaknesses. (That we lacked armor, and muscles, and testosterone, and extra players.) He was a defensive lineman, and quite frankly, in the testosterone lottery, he had hit the jackpot. . . and then some. He stood a full head taller than anyone on our side of the ball, including the referees, and his "five o'clock shadow" was even visible from the side lines. Most of our guys didn't even have a shadow. If not for the number 64 on his football jersey, one might have mistaken him for the Hulk, or Andre the Giant, or Godzilla. He was so over sized that his coaches had wrapped duct-tape around his waist in an effort to keep his middle-school-sized-pants from falling down. All afternoon, this "kid" had his way with our offensive line, and seemed to enjoy swatting them aside like gnats. And consequently my quarterback son, although full of heart, spent most of the afternoon on the ground experiencing the full extent of number 64's duct-taped girth and his testosterone windfall. Finally, mercifully, the game ended. Aside from the zero on the scoreboard and the obvious affront to our sons' egos, the parents all considered it a resounding victory--mostly because none of our kids were carried away by ambulance, and just about all of our boys' limbs were still intact (and the T-Rex wearing the jersey with the number 64 was making his way off the field, thankfully, in the other direction.)
Afterward, we awaited the sad re-emergence of the downtrodden from the locker room, and then the even sadder drive home. At last we retrieved our war-weary boy, and as he sat, head hanging down in our car in the congested parking lot, the silence was broken by the familiar beeping sound of a nearby school bus driving in reverse. Without looking up, our son, summed up his frustration and the day's events mumbling, "That's probably that big ol' number 64 walking backwards."