Oh wow, I didn’t even know this picture existed. It’s me, at 12 or 13, before my first Pop Warner game. Think I was a tackle, and had just spent a couple weeks practicing in 90 degree September heat in Brea, California. Brutal. Then came the pre-season scrimmage. It was a Friday night and the field was lit up bright as day. Hundreds of people in the stands, there not being much to do in a hick town. My childhood memory is shot to hell from seizures and I remember almost everything back then like a fading dream, so the details of the game are sketchy. There were a couple plays and nobody was getting anywhere. Then the ball was snapped again, somebody fumbled and it landed bouncing at my feet and I jumped on it but someone kicked it loose. Too late: every single kid on the field dogpiled on top of me. Down there at the bottom of that pile of squirming kids I felt my knee pop. Dislocated. It was agony for a minute or three.

That might’ve been the first time that ever happened. Eventually I was able to stand and I hobbled off the field leaning on an assistant coach. Probably got my first applause. Can’t remember anything else. Ice packs? Gatorade? A team doctor? It would’ve stopped hurting in a few minutes anyway and I must have sat there benched for three long quarters. Then the coach must’ve said you’re cut, kid. Thus ended my athletic career. But I hated Pop Warner anyway. Endless sprints in the baking heat and somebody’s dad always yelling. I just never associated it with my gimp knee before. I never remembered. Damn. All these years I could’ve been telling people about my old football injury. That’s better than bone spurs even.

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