Sunday, November 27, 2011
Maybe, The Most Glorious Fall Afternoon Ever
We did not have official endzone pylons.
The end zones were the faint gravel walking track that encircled the space. One sideline was roughly defined by a concrete drainage sewer, which thankfully never killed anyone. Although it surely could have.
The other sideline was defined by a few sweatshirts plopped down by one of us kids.
The grass was anywhere from 3 to 4 inches in height, mowed on a very random basis by some entity the HOA employed for the task.
So when I decided to move way the F out to the suburban Washington D.C. countryside (note: never, ever take a fall "pumpkin" drive, or "apple picking" excursion. Events can spiral out of control...) and absorb a 56 minute door-to-door commute, I was excited to have some land to play with, and some grass to mow.
And I was especially happy that my brother-in-law Todd, the Giants fan from Jersey who lives in suburban Philly, was bringing his two similar aged sons (9 and 13) to my daughters (9 and 12) for the weekend and they wanted to play some football.
So with that in mind, I sought out the flattest chunk of grass I could find, and promptly brought the blade down to 2.5 inches. I then brought my walk mower down for a deeper scalping to define the outer boundaries of the field.
After that, it was about 24 cans of spray paint, and maybe 4-5 hours of good ol' grown-up fun.
Just making the field, would have been enough to tickle me silly inside for weeks. Having a little 3 on 3 game with my own family was even better.
But two things happened that made the day after Thanksgiving truly awesome.
One: the weather. It was unreal. I mean, insanely nice. 62 degrees, low angle late fall sunshine. Not a breath of wind.
Then something pretty nutty happened. A group of kids, perfectly aged between 8 and 14, boys and girls just came walking down the gravel road behind the house.
LOOKING FOR A PICKUP FOOTBALL GAME.
I am not making any of this up.
Mind you, we have a smattering of neighbors in our little swatch of western Loudoun County, but the amount of "foot traffic" on that gravel road is maybe 2 people per day. Maybe.
These kids were visiting their in-laws, about a mile up the road. And you should have seen their faces when they saw the field I had made.
So when they asked if they could play, I told them to beat it, and if they don't I would CALL THE COPS!
They poured over the gap in the stone fence and onto the field, and the rest of the evening was nothing short of awesome. Having daughters myself, I was thrilled that just as many girls were in the visiting group as boys.
And guess what? They were some of the best players!
I made them all pose for a trading card style photo on my NFL Shield logo. Some of them didn't want to. I would not take "no" for an answer. I told their mom and dad I would send them the pics. Being an adult, and knowing how I would KILL to have more pictures of myself as a kid, I know someday they'll enjoy the shit out of these pictures.
Now, as for the logo, how did I do it?
8 x 8 grid. (each square = 2 ft.)
Resize to fill grid.
Bring grid to field.
Make grid with kite string and golf tees. (Tedious, but necessary).
Stare at grid, start with outline, and go from there.
Of course, a sadness came over me when I saw my in-laws leave, and the weekend drained out. I don't have friends who live close enough to play. The field is a bit small for big boys. And I'm gonna watch that sweet grid fade away from my back window as the winter sets in.
But I had that one glorious day. And I have the photos (and video) to prove it.
It was, perhaps, the best Thanksgiving ever.