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It was Friday, my fifth day in the seventh grade. I was extremely tense and nervous walking into homeroom in the morning, thinking about this afternoon’s game against John Wayne Gacey Middle School and their talented receiver ‘Mister Two’ (for his uniform number).
Liberty Fabian was his name. He was tall and he was fast, and I worried about whether I would be able to tackle him by myself if I was playing safety. And which teammate of mine would play the cornerback trying to stop him?
Madeline and Hoshiko were excited about the game too. After Madeline rubbed my butt in the hospital, I didn’t feel that she was so ‘out of my league’ anymore. I was hoping that she really liked me.
We were standing by our desks and Madeline actually put her hand on my shoulder … which gave me goosebumps once again … but I was still far too shy to touch her back in any way. But having her continue to be my secret crush made me feel very good.
Madeline was already wearing her cheerleader outfit and this was the first time I had seen her in a short pleated skirt which stopped several inches above her knee. Her long shapely nude gams had me lusting with great desire to feel a little farther up under the pleats … the way Putz had tried to do with Precious. But I dared not try.
“Are you nervous too?” she asked me.
“Madeline, I think I have ‘butterflies in my stomach’. I just don’t want to go out there this afternoon and make a fool of myself.”
Hoshiko was puzzled. “Darakatoms, how do butterflies go into your stomach? Do you do this on purpose?”
“American slang, Hoshiko. “It just means we’re, I don’t know … worried?
“It’s the same with me, Hoshiko,” said Madeline … my first time being a cheerleader. I don’t want to make mistakes.”
“I can’t wait to watch both of you. I have never seen an American football game. I do have one question but I am afraid it might embarrass you and Madeline, so I hope that you will not be angry at me.”
“It won’t be a problem, Hoshiko,” I told her. “Please ask us any questions you like.”
The girl looked at the floor while asking her question. “I see the posters on the school walls and I hear students shouting this slogan ‘Go Nads’.”
Madeline nodded. “Yes, Hoshiko, that is our main cheer.”
“Well, I heard this in Health class … I was just wondering if the teachers know that when you put the two words together, that it sounds like a sexual organ.”
Madeline and I both chuckled. “Everyone knows it, Hoshiko. We use it to shock the parents on the other team … and to make everyone else laugh. So now you know your second American joke.”
“I see … but I don’t think I can reapeat this joke to my parents.”
A fourth person entered our little corner of the room. I tried to be as pleasant as possible.
“Hello, Sally, nice to see you.” (The other two girls backed away.)
“Tomorrow night, Derrek,” she stated. “Dinner at my house again. We can play more music … It was fun last time. Good luck with your game. Oh, and I expect you to show up.”
I shook my head. “Sorry, no can do, Sally. You were there in my apartment. You heard my mom. She says I’m too young to go cavorting with girls.”
“What the hell is cavorting? Is that the same as fucking?”
“Then there’s no reason you can’t come over. You had everyone in this school believing that I was the one who poisoned you … and you never apologized to me.”
“Actually, I did, Sally … and I never once said it was you who did it.”
The girl’s anger was starting to boil over. “Liar! You owe me big-time, Derrek! So don’t try to weasel out of it!”
I had about all I could stand of this and I barked out my response. “I’m not weaseling, Sally … I’m breaking up with you!”
The girl looked positively shocked. “What?!! Why you god damned mother-fucking son-of-a-bitch!!”
Then came the slap to my face (again).
I knew it was coming and I could have blocked it, but I was hoping that maybe it might give her enough satisfaction to stop stalking me. (But on the other hand, maybe that was wishful thinking).
Sally used some archaic language for her parting words, while pointing a finger at my face. “Derrek Adams, you will rue the day that you crossed Sally Sukkemsilli !”
(I was ruing it already.)
Seconds after Sally left, Starline and Duchess dropped by to sass me.
“We don’t mean to be a ‘We told you so,’ Derrek, but (wait for it) WE TOLD YOU SO!”
Lunch was pretty quiet, especially without Randy there. Our first game would be starting in a few hours and the atmosphere at our table felt a little bit like Jesus presiding over the last supper … serious stuff.
X told me, “Derrek, on offense, if you’re not in the play, then try to block your man out.
I nodded. “I’ll be happy to hit people.”
“We’ll catch up with the other four players who eat lunch in fifth period later when we get to the locker room … Triple J, Tou Young, Edison Toledo, and Buster LaFrance.”
I kind of felt sorry for those four players because they miss out on a lot of shenanigans and group laughter that go on at lunch so many times at the team table. The captain had told me that Coach Parker had to practically beg them to join the team. Not every boy is a gung-ho jock.
“Hey you guys,” said X. “Make sure you get down to the locker room right after eighth period ends to dress for the game. And don’t putz around … No offense, Putz.”
“None taken,” Putz replied.
Goro put his arm around my shoulder. “You hear that, amigo? No ‘coochie coochie’ detentions with your ‘suave pussy’ this time. You need to control that second period boner you keep getting. It’s part of your body clock routine now.” (level one chuckling by the team.) “Yeah, we’re not gonna put up with any more toro caca from you, amigo.”
Goro even had me laughing. “No problemo,” I told him.
In fifth period Health class, I was shocked that Coach Bimbo actually said, “Good luck to the football boys in your opening game this afternoon.”
“And the football cheerleaders, Mr. Bimbo,” Madeline reminded him.
“Sorry ladies … you too.”
When the bell rang concluding eighth period study hall, I was on my way quickly … first stop was to unload my backpack in my regular locker. But another person was already there waiting for me. I tried to be civil.
“Hi Derrek, good luck in your game.”
“You know, Derrek, my invitation for Saturday night supper is still open.”
I faced her straight up, ready for another facial slap. “I appreciate the invite, Sally, but I don’t think I’ll be coming.”
She responded with, “Oh … okay … see you later.”
I slid past her with, “See you later, Sally.”
In the locker room, the captain lightly hammered both of his fists on top of my shoulders. “So Derrek … Do you think you can put on your own uniform this time?
“I’ve got it, X … Thanks for showing me on Tuesday.”
(Wow, there was so much activity going on in the locker room, especially by the coaches. So many last minute preparations. I had never been a part of this before. The feeling was electric … and I was anxious to get on the field. This is why I wanted to go back and be a seventh grader again. Twelve years old felt pretty good right now.)
The call came to go to the center meeting room and take a knee. Coach Parker was the first to speak.
He spoke with a large voice. “Listen up, guys. With only 14 players now, we needed to juggle a few positions … And no one is allowed to get hurt. Repeat that!”
The team responded shouting back, “No one is allowed to get hurt!”
The coach continued, “We’ve got eight two-way players, and you guys know your spots. That leaves us with only six more. The three on offense only will be Greywolf at tight end, Cocoa at right tackle, and Edison at left tackle. I’ll need you three to help out Big-O and Goro. They can’t play the line all by themselves, but they’ll try.”
“On defense, YY, I want you to take left defensive end, John Jump Jr. … Triple-J, I want you to help X at linebacker … and Tou Young, you help Derrek at safety.”
“Derrek and Tou, I want you to play a zone at safety, left and right. And Derrek, I want you to stay in your zone. If you shade toward ‘Mister 2’ near the side, that’s going to leave the entire middle of the field open.
Batty raised a hand. “What if Mister 2 isn’t wearing number 2?”
Coach Parker raised his voice. “Then we’ll defend against Mister 3, or Mister 4, or whatever the hell number he’s wearing … His name is Liberty Fabian, and we can’t let him beat us. Showkat, you’ll need all your speed to stay with him at cornerback … any questions? … No? … Captain X, you got anything to say that will light a fire under your teammates’ butts?”
X stood up and faced his squad. “Do you guys know what they’re saying over at John Wayne Gacey Middle School today? … Well they aren’t exactly saying it. They’re laughing it … The Jerry Sandusky football team is a bunch of punks! 14 players against a freakin’ army of 40?”
“Big-O and Goro can hold their own, but they’re saying the rest of us are going to get mauled … And Mister 2 is saying that he’ll take a rest and let their subs play in the third quarter when the score gets to be 50 to nothing!”
“Adams!” he called out. “Define the word QUIT !”
I repeated my previous answer, yelling, “I don’t even know the MEANING of the word quit!!”
X yelled back, “That’s why every champion was once a contender that didn’t give up. You just CANNOT beat a man who refuses to give up.”
“Do you guys listen to winners? Winners all say the same three things … Dream with all your mind, believe with all your heart, and achieve with all your might.”
“There’s no better feeling than stepping out on the field and stunning them all by doing what none of them thought you could do.”
“And do you guys remember what I told you on Monday? ‘NO ONE comes into OUR house and pushes us around’!!”
X concluded with, “Today we will go out there and prove to the world, that Jerry Sandusky is better than John Wayne Gacey!!”
(team) “Go Nads! Go Nads! Go Nads! Go Nads!”