COUNTY AGENT GUY
The days have shortened and there’s a definite nip in the air. This increasing chilliness is enough to make a guy reach for his hip flask and take a nip.
These seasonal changes are due to the fact that our spinning sphere is slightly tilted, similar to a football that’s being held by a, um, well, football holder. It’s no coincidence that it’s also football season.
The only football I ever played was as a kid when a “touch” game might spontaneously spring forth during a family gathering. With no referee to call Unnecessary Roughness, the games would quickly devolve from “touch” to “kill the carrier.” A lot of emergency lateral passes took place during these contests.
I am not a big fan of pain, so those games taught me that I’m not cut out to play football. Plus, I never had the build for football. Putting me on the line of scrimmage might have been like tossing a Raggedy Andy doll under a steamroller. The results would have been ugly and probably would have involved large amounts of stuffing leakage.
That doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy watching a good game of football. I appreciate all of the nuances and strategies that are used, many of which are very similar to those seen in a ballet performance or at a monster truck event.
You feel like you have a stake in the game if you know somebody who is playing. It’s similar to being the owner of a car that’s participating in a demolition derby.
Many years ago, one of my sisters acquired a boyfriend who played football for our local university. Tony, who was from Long Island, arrived on the prairies of South Dakota on the wings of a football scholarship. It must have been quite a shock for him to go from an area that has roughly a jillion people per square mile to a wide-open state where the cattle outnumber the humans by four to one.
One weekend my sister brought Tony out to my parents’ dairy farm for Sunday dinner and to meet and greet my siblings and me.
The first thing I noticed about Tony was his physique. He was massive yet solid, with a build that reminded me of a bulldozer. His neck muscles were so bulky that it appeared he had a cast iron fire plug sitting atop of his shoulders.
The second thing everyone noticed was Tony’s accent, which was thicker than a deli cheesecake. We immediately began to tease him about it. He claimed that we were the ones who had accents, but we’d watched enough TV to know that all New Yorkers are full of it.
Tony was quite talkative. It was fun to just sit and listen to him butcher the language, pronouncing “long” as “lawng” and “Jersey” as “Joisey.” Before that, we’d only heard such exotic dialog on the telly.
Because I knew Tony, I was once allowed to watch from the sidelines as the Jackrabbits football squad ran a practice scrimmage. I searched for Tony’s number as the offense and the defense lined up on the 20-yard line. When I finally spotted him, I realized something: as large as Tony seemed to me, he was probably the smallest guy on the field.
The quarterback called out a random string of numbers before he finally yelled “Hike!” Nearly two dozen extremely athletic men -each of whom weighed about as much as a mature buffalo – instantly hurled themselves against each other.
I was close enough to feel the impact through my feet. The shockwave shot upwards and reverberated throughout my innards, causing them to experience a vicarious surge of panic. I was deeply glad that I wasn’t the luckless guy who was carrying the ball. It looked like it would have been safer to run around with a live grenade.
I attended a couple of football games that fall, enduring the nippy air and feeling my body heat slowly seep into the unforgiving concrete. Down on the field, a horde of enormous men engaged in a brutal ballet as they strove to move a small, semispherical object across their opponents’ goal line.
The quarterback would take the snap and the stadium would reverberate with a visceral “HUNH!” as several metric tons of testosterone-fueled human flesh collided. The forces involved could have crushed a car.
These days, thanks to cable TV, we can watch football from the comfort of our couch. The seat is warm and cushy, and if I want a nip I don’t have to sneak it from a hip flask.
Although I sometimes miss hearing that “HUNH!” feeling that shockwave.
Nelson is a freelance writer from Volga, S.D. Reach him by e-mail at email@example.com.
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