Wednesday, October 26, 2011

On the right track

Peggy and I like to go to the track at the local high school to walk a mile.  Four times around the loop and there you go, a nice stretch for the old pins, and some fresh air too.  And, by walking around a track, you don't have to worry about traffic.  No carloads of kids joyriding in SUVs are going to career past you, and really the only thing to watch out for is the occasional Truly Dedicated Jogger, who will reveal himself instantly by being shirtless and mirthless, with the sort of grim countenance usually seen on Rick Perry as he tries to fumble his way out of a debate.  

This one guy we saw the other day...I just wanted to say, Lighten Up, McGraw!  He had a look on his face, that thousand-yard stare into his healthy future, I suppose, that said I MUST jog another MILE to atone for eating that bite of a cheeseburger the other day!  Jeesh.  Unfurrow your brow, son, and come have a beer.

We also see others our age, out strutting around the oval, and sometimes you see people talking on the cell while they walk.  And kids sometimes just come out and run a lap just to burn off the energy.  

The track engirdles the high school football field, and there is usually a pickup game of football going on as we walk.  I always figure, these guys really must know each other well, because there are no uniforms or colors or any other way to tell who is who or who is on which side.  Whatever happened to Shirts and Skins?  You'll see guys wearing various football jerseys, some tattered t-shirts, some the latest Under Armour gear, but when they huddle and break to to the line for another play, it's tough to tell the offense from the defense.  And we all know there is a rule, strictly enforced in most leagues, that only 11 people are to be on a team at any time.  These pickup games look more like auditions for "West Side Story;" so many guys are on each team, and I'm not even sure that it's ever even.  I'd say it averages 15 men per side.  

And this is tackle football they are playing, no flag or touch for these guys.  It gets tough, especially with no pads, but they're having fun.

Of course, as we walk, I always have this Walter Mitty moment in which an errant pass bounces five feet in front of us on the track, and I pick up the football and throw it back to the players, causing jaws to drop as I let loose a perfect spiral pass of some 40 yards.  "Wow, mister, our quarterback just came down with tyrotoxism.  Do you think you could take his place for a while?"

And, with Peggy's blessing, I go out and lead my team to victory.

In real life, chances are that a football that lands five feet away from me will be reclaimed by a kid forty feet away before I can even bend over to pick it up, but it's fun to pretend.

And you know what; I don't even think there is a victory to be won in this game. Just the other day, I saw a little guy intercept a pass in the end zone and thunder the length of the field, and then they came back and played from there.  No point-after-touchdown, no kickoff, just some kids having fun and not keeping score.  To tell you the truth, I admire them a lot.  They know what recreation is all about.  

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