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Football story #15
Case File 785221
Project: Homosocial Inclination

Margaret Emery, Ian Falcon, David Griffith, Seth Madej, Jennifer Meccariello

I’m remembering now.

It was the double back hand-spring. I came up a little dizzy like usual, you know. I did it because this was it the last time we’d be cheering on our home field. Paul had just come off the field for the last time, like THE last time. It was so sad. We were sitting in his car outside my house the night before the game and he said he was sad about it too, but he was being really brave about it, like he always is. But I just like cried and cried and told him all the great plays I could remember him making over our four years together. He had been the starting quarterback ever since he was a freshman—Yeah, I know, it’s like never been done before; every game he was quarterback they won, except for one when he was hurt. Well he wasn’t hurt, but he like got scabies somehow and the refs wouldn’t let him play because he would spread it to the other players. I mean it was before I went out with him, like his Sophomore year when he was dating Jenny Wentworth; she totally got the scabies too. The big ho probably gave them to Paul, but he swears it was from some hotel room bed when he went on vacation with his parents to Myrtle Beach. Jenny Wentworth was such a ho that when she did the splits like five class rings fell out, she like left a slime trail where ever she walked. We’d walk behind her and make these slurping noises. She WAS the captain of the cheerleading squad and then she went crazy and tried to eat all the pills in her mom’s cabinet and they took her up to Memorial, 5th floor, Psyche Ward. She’s probably still up there eating paste and blowin’ the black guys in white coats. Paul was a virgin before she got to him. That’s what pisses me off more than anything, ’cause like now he says he’s saving himself for marriage, he says like sleeping with Jenny was a mistake. I love him so much that I said “ok, honey. I love you. Whenever you think it’s right. I don’t want to pressure you.” But really inside I’m like “fuck that!” You bone Jenny Wentworth’s skank ass but you won’t even finger me?! So anyway, I’m staying with Paul because he’s going to need me. He’s going to Penn State—where all the ho’s are—to be they’re starting quarterback, not right away, they told him but he’s next for sure.

So I’m like going crazy jumping and cheering and the whole crowd is standing up cheering for Paul. There’s a minute left in the game and they’re killing the clock, just downing the ball and so they bring Paul out and all the other girls in the squad are crying, even fat Beth who’s only on the squad because her older sister Mona is like a cheerleading legend and won Miss Pennsylvania back in the nineties and helped homeless kids for like fifteen minutes and now works for a Senator or something—probably blowing him under his desk.

Paul takes off his helmet and raises it to the crowd and he’s not smiling or anything. He just goes to the back of the sidelines and sits down and there’s like a whole crowd of guys around him Chip, the place kicker and Brent the linebacker who’s going to Pitt now and they’re all patting him on the back, but Paul just sits there with his head down. And I’m like thinking he’s going to look around for me next like he does sometimes, but he doesn’t. I’m thinking that he’s so in the moment, like just the moment is totally overwhelming him and I’m watching and waiting and I start to pray a little bit, “please God let him look at me. I don’t want the other girls to think something’s wrong between us.”

The clock runs out and the field is starting to fill with people because here’s another undefeated season at Valley High. And still I’m staring at Paul waiting for him to look at me. This is when Tracy Levins nudges me ’cause the band is playing the school song and we’re supposed to do our routine and I’m supposed to do a double back hand-spring right when the song goes into the second verse: “Go You Beavers, break right through that line...” So I run and jump and stick it and when I look up, slightly dizzy, through the mob of people I see Paul kissing Chip, the placekicker, on the lips. —D.G.

9:28 Hmm, our last game—it’s almost over. Why do I always feel a little funny just before I sign off for the season? Maybe I should retire, let Mona’s younger bother take over. Maybe he could get his sister to bring a congressman to a game. Or was it a city councilman? No, I could of sworn it was a congressman. Fuck it, she could bring whoever she putting out for now. That would be good for morale, it’d probably make the town paper. Hell, anything makes the town paper. They’d probably do a story about me if I retired. That’d be nice. I can see it now... It’d probably sound like a fucking obituary.

I can’t believe we won again. Announcing winning games is great, but a loosing game isn’t so bad, either. Actually, I kind of miss it. There’s a nice dynamic quality to it. A quality you loose when you win all the time. Plus, I like the way my voice sounds when I explain the bad news to the somehow dumbfounded audience. It has a nice soulful quality to it, I wonder if she thinks it sounds sexy. What does it matter. With ol’ Paul in there, we always win... and she hasn’t been to a game in years. I guess she goes to Stiller games now that she’s a big city girl... with her big city boyfriend.

How many consecutive undefeated games has it been? Shit, I should know this. It’s a good thing for the town, I don’t think this town could handle anymore bad news, anymore losses. The city seems to be doing well with all of its high-tech stuff, but what does that mean for us? What do we know about high-tech? Hell, for the last twenty years, all this town has had to look forward to is football. The valley high football ritual... We know it well, we don’t have much of a choice, now do we? Especially after she left Especially after she left me. I suppose I still shouldn’t pretend to be shocked and confused about her leaving me. It’s Stephen’s fault, he was no son of mine. And nothing comes between a mother and her son. Stephen and I hadn’t gotten a long for the last few years, ever since he decided to become a queer. He flaunted it, rubbed it everyone’s face. I couldn’t understand it. Wasn’t he ashamed? He told me that was the point, that it was nothing to be a ashamed of. The whole thing made me sick. And I showed him how much it made me sick. I showed him good. She left the next morning. It’s all Stephen’s fault.

Why do I always hesitate before I have to close the game, and sign off for the season? Is it because I’m afraid to go home to an empty house and not have the promise of football the next week. Am I afraid of learning next year’s roster, next year’s schedule? Am I afraid to watch the kids get older and vanish only to be replaced with a younger set while I stay preserved, up here, all alone. All of a sudden, everything looks so small from up here. All alone in this booth, with the window separating me from the stadium and its grunts and cheers, its dirt and rain, it’s almost as real as watching TV. Up here it’s cold and stiff in the winter, and hot and suffocating in the summer. But rain—rain always smells of rain. That immediately recognizable smell that you love just before it comes, and just after it came.

These kids come and go. Jesus look at Wendy. She’s going to miss her routine if she doesn’t stop staring at ole Paul. I guess I can’t really blame her, he’s a beautiful creature. It looks like she’s saying something... Whatever.

She’s oblivious to the greater reality. They all are. All of these kids, and parents... they’re all wrapped up in the moment. And it’s a moment I give them. I give them the moment. Where would they be without me? It’s my voice they look to for guidance, for comfort, for knowledge. Every year, right at this moment, I listen for my voice before I close the game, and the season. It always seems a little larger, more encompassing, more powerful, more like an old man’s? Echoing... huge, like you imagine god’s to be like. Feeble, and old, like god’s. God, these kids are young.

There Wendy goes, skirts flying, pom-poms waving. Why the fuck am I still doing this? How pathetic, she staring Paul down just hoping and probably praying he looks over in her direction. Hmm...What’s wrong with Paul? What’s he doing with Chip? Is he hurt? Well I’ll be damned. No, it couldn’t have been. It wasn’t. There’s no way such a good ball player could be godamned faggot. There’s no way. Not here. We can’t have it here, and we certainly can’t have it now. No, it was just my eyes playing tricks on me. It’s crowded down there. This town doesn’t need anymore nancy boys. Hell no, especially not on my watch, I simply won’t allow it. Stephen was enough. He is gone and dead to me, and that’s the way I like it. No more. Son or no son he was a godamned faggot. I couldn’t handle another going queer. Staring me down, with those queer eyes, and those queer lips. I won’t stand for it, I won’t allow it. Damn you Stephen. You’re no son of mine. It nearly killed me before... It should’ve killed you. God knows if you show your faggot face in this town again, I’ll finish what I should have finished then. —I.F.

When Paul was sucking face with Chip I got a real good view because I was walking around the field and there was all that chicken wire stuff separating the guys on the team from me. I didn’t have to clean the field until the end of the game. I got there a little early so I could get a hot dog.

I didn’t know what to think because Paul is a nice kid. He’s my neighbor’s kid—and he’s been mowing my lawn and shoveling my sidewalk since he was ten. I think it’s unfortunate about him and that Chip kid experimenting. I know kids want to experiment, but I never liked Chip. He’s one of those kids who picks on everyone else when he’s screwed up. Two years ago he knocked the front teeth out of this girl Hillary. She dressed like she was always going to a funeral, and she didn’t like makeup or nothing, but she never caused a problem and that Chip just walked up to her and knocked her teeth out. So it’s no surprise to me that Chip is that way. But it’s strange coming from Paul.

There was one time when Paul was talking to me while he was waiting to get picked up from school. I don’t really like to talk to the kids that much, but Paul was just talking and he says, “Gloria were you ever different in school?”

And I says, “What do you mean?”

“I don’t know,” he says, “Were you teased?”

So I told him about when I had the back brace when I was a kid and how some of the people who laughed at me then were in wheelchairs now, so I don’t really care.

His eyes scrunched up funny and he says, “What? You don’t think they were freaks too? Don’t you think they didn’t want to get picked on either? It’s not like you succeeded just because you can still walk. You’re a janitor.”

That’s not a nice thing to say. If you were wondering if it’s okay to say that to someone who works for a living and pays taxes and puts up with snotty little assholes all day, well it’s not okay. But I figured he was upset about something.

I tells him, “You are who you are, some people like you, some people don’t. I don’t know why you’re giving me lip but you need to respect the people you think are so low on the totem pole.”

I felt bad for saying that now because after the game he stayed on the field for a while and looked at his shoes. I gave him the Gatorade that was left in the cooler. —M.E.

Jesus, did Paul just kiss me? What the hell! He didn’t tell me he was gonna do that. Christ, now the whole freaking stadium is going to think we’re going out or something. I don’t know what the fuck he thinks he’s doing. I checked his kisslist this morning, and I was DEFINITELY not on there. I mean we’ve only been maintaining the god damn kiss list for what, twelve years? Since we were five! He knows the procedure. Any intended kisses must be updated on the list no later than twelve hours prior, and all associates, namely me, have to be updated in fucking triplicate.

Paul knows the procedure. He’s updated his kisslist before he’s kissed any freaking thing in the last twelve years. And so have I. Like just last Wednesday, I updated it before I kissed that dead squirrel. I didn’t just like lean down to the pavement the moment I saw it and pucker up and French the thing! I went home; I filled out the form; I submitted it to Paul the next morning; then I brought him over to witness me get on my knees on the gravel and kiss the squirrel right on its back hair. Then the notary signed and stamped and I collected my points.

I don’t see any notary around here, I’ll tell you that much. How many points does Paul think he’ll get for kissing me anyway? It can’t be that many. Nowhere near as many as I got for kissing the squirrel. Probably not even as many as the time I kissed that used Tampon I scraped out of the gas station bathroom. Definitely less than when I kissed Becky Lobain’s armpit. Or that glowing slime thing stuck under Dad’s car. Or that pilot whale that landed in the McGreavey’s front yard. And no way he’s getting more than that time I kissed the gnome I found under my porch. Man I remember grabbing that tiny dude by his arms like Teddy Ruxpin and kissing him right on his beardy face. Then he poked me in the eye and jumped back down his gnome hole. I hate fucking gnomes. But it was worth it for 5000 points.

Whoa, I’ve kissed some freaky shit, right? But y’know, graduation’s coming up, and I’m gonna win this thing. Cuz I have 538,475 points, and Paul’s nowhere close to that, no matter what he kisses. Even me. Graduation’s going to come and I’ll be so far ahead and I’m going to get in his face and be all like:

U don’t have 2 be rich
2 be my girl
U don’t have 2 be cool
2 rule my world
Ain’t no particular sign I’m more compatible with
I just want your extra time and your

Man, I’ll kiss anything for points. But not Paul. His breath tastes like fish ass. —S.M.

I kinda thought Chip’s lips would be different than Wendy’s and Jenny Wentworth’s were—like they’d be, I don’t know, more mannish. Or guyish. Or whatever. Like, even though I’ve felt my own lips with my fingers when I brush my teeth and stuff, for some reason I just couldn’t get over how they felt like lips. But they did.

I knew Wendy was staring at me—she always gets off when I look at her after a game. Sometimes I just sit on the bench or jump up to high-five the other guys and string her along a little, but I always look eventually. She read too many Beverly Cleary books as a kid, if you ask me—my sister Julie always read them and I’d steal them and read ‘em late at night. Thought it might help figure out how to ask a girl out. She was always going on about Beezus and Ramona and then she got onto Henry—there had to be something in there about getting a girl. Nah. Nothing but dumb stories about engagement rings and donut machines, haircuts like someone named Dorothy Hammill, and knowing looks. Wendy always wanted me to give her knowing looks. Whatever.

I knew everyone else was watching me, too. Everyone always watches me—sometimes it’s okay, but usually I wish they wouldn’t. No one ever watches Chip. The guy’s always doing something dumb, begging for attention, and, man, even if he walked up to Principal Butler, unzipped his pants, and took a dump on his shoes, no one would notice.

The whole Kiss List was his idea when we were little back when we lived on Dove Street. He wanted to impress Jenny Wentworth who was pretty cool until seventh grade and then she became a skank—gave me scabies in tenth grade. I told everyone it was from a hotel in Myrtle Beach, but it’s really because Jenny made out with some guy who delivers pizza at Romano’s Pizzeria while I was on vacation with my family and then did it with me. Kept me out of a game. She’s crazy now—up in the psych ward. Anyway, Chip thought that if he kissed this plastic yard cow he’d impress Jenny and she’d kiss him. Yeah, that didn’t work.

But then we got rules, and from then on it didn’t matter if people saw us—it was all about winning. We were supposed to stop after a year, but Chip just kept adding rules and stuff and, well, now it’s been like twelve and it’s almost over. Sorta backfired for him, too. He’s gotten sick a few times from kissing dead stuff, but he’s kickin my ass in points. And no one still pays any attention to him. His big thing was that he was gonna kiss Hillary the goth girl, but chickened out and just punched her two front teeth in. I almost stopped the Kiss List after that. Not cool.

But it doesn1t matter anymore anyway. See, I was online one night looking for porn while my parents were out last summer, and I met these other people in a chat room that were really into starting their own Kiss List. So we did, and I'm totally winning now. We play for bigger points, so, like kissing Chip is worth 10,000, and all I had to do was videotape it and send them the video tonight. Which was totally easy because my mom is up in the stands taping the game like she always does, and she never stops taping until everyone has left, always keeping the camera on me.

So that's why I did it. The glory. Sorta. I mean, I know I'll never meet these people, but this is big-time competition here. International. Fuck Chip and his sissy Kiss List. He's so small town.

I'm gonna go home and upload this video, and then I think I'll fuck Wendy. It's about time. — J.M.

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