The girls went to their first high school football game last night.
One of the things about Kim’s new job is that it is a position of high visibility in the community. This has certain implications, one of them being a pressure to attend events like community fundraisers. And as the First Mate, I get to go along.
I never liked those things even when they were benefiting an organization I was running.
Oh, they’re pleasant enough, really. Lots of community-minded people gathering together for a good cause, a silent auction full of interesting things, a decent meal and some good entertainment – in this case, a very good 12-piece Latin band – but I’m just one of those people who would rather stay home and read. My hearing has never been all that great and my voice does not carry well, so I find it hard to have conversations in such environments, and whenever I find myself in a room full of strangers my first reaction is just to sit quietly and observe until it is time to go home.
So the festivities are kind of lost on me, is what I’m saying.
But between Kim’s job and mine we don’t get much chance to see each other, so I went. And this required us to find somewhere to stash the girls for the night. Fortunately, some friends were going to the Other High School’s homecoming game and volunteered to take them along.
There are two high schools here in Our Little Town – the one the girls will go to eventually, assuming the local voters haven’t decided to defund the schools entirely (a disturbingly realistic scenario these days), and the other one across town.
Neither Tabitha nor Lauren is really much into football – Lauren at least cheers for certain teams based on her parents’ allegiances, though when I tried to explain to her what exactly a “touchdown” was yesterday she tuned me out fairly quickly. “You’re not interested in learning this, are you Lauren?” I asked. “Not really,” she replied. Tabitha cares even less.
But there were friends there, and their favorite babysitter is one of the cheerleaders, so they were excited about going.
We left the fundraiser and got to the game just as halftime ended, so we sat there through a quarter and a half before it got too cold to stay any longer, talking with our friends and watching the game unfold.
The last time I was at a high school football game was when I was still in high school, back in the depths of the 1980s. I didn’t go to many games. I had friends in the band, so a couple times I went to hang out with them, and I made it to the Big Rivalry Game most years (it’s the oldest public high school rivalry in the country, and if we won we got half a day off).
The games don’t seem to have changed.
There was a lot of offense – I saw only one punt in the time we were there, and that resulted in a penalty that gave the ball back to the punting team for a first down – and most of it was on the ground. Only two of the dozen or so pass plays actually worked. And most of the people in the stands were students who seemed more interested in hanging out with each other than following the game.
On the other hand, the field-goal kicker for the home team was a girl and nobody seemed to notice or care, which is something that would not have happened back when I was attending these games. Real progress is attained when equality becomes unremarkable.
When I was in grad school, one of my friends told me there were three stages of living in a small town. First, you’re just a visitor and you don’t really pay much attention to the local high school football team. Then you do pay attention, because you start to know people involved – friends who have kids on the team or in the stands, students who once played, that sort of thing. And finally, you start to care whether they win or lose, just because.
So when I checked the score this morning in the local paper and discovered that the home team lost on a touchdown with six seconds left I thought, well, perhaps I’ve lived here long enough to have gone through the cycle.