C.J.’s Brother Chase loves football. He’s been playing flag football for the past four seasons and thinks that he’s ready to make the jump to tackle football with pads (and a much higher registration fee and time commitment). Tackle football makes me nervous, but I’m being told on a weekly basis that it’s uncool for him to play flag football much longer. Tackle football is where it’s at if you are serious about pigskin and/or your social status.
In preparation for this next phase of Chase’s athletic career, we decided that he needs to see tackle football live (not just on TV) so he can fully understand that he will be tackled and expected to tackle someone else. He’s such a kind, gentle, loving soul and I’m afraid that the first time someone knocks him to the ground in an act of aggression it’s going to shock the shit out of him.
Matt found out that our high school alma mater was playing a football game five minutes from our house, so one recent Friday night we loaded in the car, grabbed hamburgers for dinner and headed to the stadium for the game.
“I don’t wanna watch football. Football is soooooo boring,” C.J. complained, slumping his shoulders and walking with dread through the parking lot.
“There will be cheerleaders…” I said.
“I love cheerleaders! Do we have to sit on the grass or is there a place for the audience to sit?” C.J. asked.
“When you watch sports you’re a fan, not an audience, and you sit in the stands or the bleachers.” C.J. has a lot to learn to about sports, but isn’t the least bit interested in learning it.
We walked into the stadium and C.J. saw the cheerleaders instantly. They were standing on boxes with their names written on them.
C.J.: “What’s her name?”
C.J.: “What’s that one’s name?”
C.J.: “What’s the brown-haired girl’s name?”
C.J.: “That’s so many Hannahs! Do you have to be named Hannah to be a cheerleader? Cause my name’s not Hannah.”
I agreed. There were a lot of Hannahs. There were a lot of cheerleaders, period. There were a lot of people. We had a hard time finding seats. I looked around. I leaned over to Matt.
“I think it’s Homecoming,” I said. “Did you plan this as a romantic gesture for your high school sweetheart?” He hadn’t. Whatever.
C.J. watched the freshman, sophomore, junior varsity, varsity and alumni cheerleaders cheer. By the middle of the second quarter he was getting bored. (So was I.)
“Ewwww, what is that costume!?” he said while pointing.
“That’s the uniform that the band wears. That girl is in the band,” I replied.
“Ewwww, that’s so not good. That’s sad,” he said.
I quieted him down. But, he was right. The getups had obviously been selected from the Star Trek-themed pages of the band uniform catalogue.
“I wanna go home,” he complained.
“We can’t leave yet, there is a halftime show and they are going to crown the Homecoming Queen,” I said.
“THERES GOING TO BE A QUEEN!!!! YOU DIDN’T TELL ME THERE WAS GOING TO BE A QUEEN!!!” he yelled, causing the two rows in front of us to turn and look.
“WHERE IS SHE?????” he said stretching his head out and around to look for her.
“We don’t know who the queen is yet. They are going to bring out the princesses and then announce which one was picked to be the queen,” I whispered into his ear.
“THERE ARE PRINCESSES TOO!!!!!” he yelled. Again the rows turned to look at us. He was nearly shaking with excitement.
The Dr. Seuss halftime show started. Apparently it was Homecoming in Whoville. There were small skits, dance routines and then the five princesses were loaded into a horse-drawn carriage and were making their way on the track around the football field towards us.
“HERE THEY COME. THEY’RE COMING!!!!” C.J. was losing his freaking mind.
The princesses took to the stage one at a time as their long list of accomplishments was read. One had, like, a 4.75 G.P.A. Is that even possible? I was always stoked to have above a 3.0.
Each princess was stationed in front of a gift-wrapped box. Each box contained a helium balloon and whomever’s balloon had a red paper heart attached to it was the queen. Simultaneously, the princesses started to slowly lift the lids off of their boxes.
C.J. had is hands clasped together and held up to his heart. He was holding his breath. There were princesses, gift boxes, balloons and hearts. C.J. could not have been more in his element.
The girl on the far left won. It was a beauty pageant moment. She brought her hands to her mouth in shock. She had a surprised-Taylor-Swift face. The crown was placed atop her shiny dark hair and a cape was draped on her slender shoulders.
“SHE CAN’T WIN!!!!!! SHE DOESN’T HAVE THE BEST DRESS!!!! THE GIRL OVER THERE WITH THE PINK GLITTER DRESS SHOULD BE THE QUEEN!!!!!”
C.J. was on his feet pointing firmly to the girl who – in his humble opinion – should be the Homecoming Queen. The two rows in front of us turned to look again. I was hoping that a smile would hide my embarrassment.
I tried to explain to C.J. that the Homecoming Queen is supposed to win based on her achievements, not her dress. He argued that that was stupid and that it should be based on her dress.
“Are you ready to go?” Matt asked me.
We started to make our way down the stadium steps.
“We’ll see you all in the gym for the 2013 Homecoming Dance!” the football announcer said over the loud speaker.
“YAAAAAAYYYYYYYY!!!!! WE GET TO GO TO A DANCE!!!!!! IS IT TONIGHT? WHAT GYM? LA FITNESS WHERE YOU WORK OUT, MOMMY?”
“No, baby, it’s at the high school gym and it’s only for the teenagers.”
“But that man just invited me and I can wear one of my dresses…”
“You can’t go until you’re in high school,” I said exhausted by the endless questions.
“I already know what dress I’ll wear,” he said.
“Of course you do.”