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.

Red Queen

A couple weeks ago I confessed on a thread that I had no idea what football player beat up who. And I really did have no idea, I’d missed the whole appalling thing. Which meant I had no idea what these people on this particular thread were all raving about. And they were raving, words gushed out in the hundreds, the thousands, torrents of angry words. Flabbergasted at my ignorance, they turned on me, fairly outraged that I could so be out of touch. I apologized and sputtered something about not being an NFL fan. Neither, it turned out, were any of them…though, apparently, that was quite beside the point. It’s all over the news, they said. So I apologized and said I don’t really watch the TV news. Neither did they, they said…except this time. Well, I’ve been busy. It was a feeble excuse, and I could almost see them rolling their eyes and sighing. They threw themselves back into heated discussion. So and so should be jailed. So and so should be fired. So and so should sue them for everything they’ve got. I quietly slipped away. The Red Queen was coming, a blind and aimless fury.