Two weekends ago I went to a high school football game for the first time in fourteen years. It all felt so familiar and, at the same time, so foreign. I’m not sure if my memory is failing me as a result of so many years’ distance from my own high school experience, or if things really are that different in rural Kansas 2015 than they were in suburban Ohio 2001.
Whatever the reason, I felt strangely like an imposter – an old person in a young person’s game – and I was pretty sure if I stood up and cheered, all the people who have probably been inside the high school more than once were going to stone me for posing as someone who has actually heard of the teams on the field.
My kids aren’t even close to high school age yet, so we haven’t had much reason to keep them out past bedtime at football games, until this one. It was homecoming game, and Hannah was chosen to be the flower girl for the homecoming ceremony. Exciting stuff! I had no idea what that was. But I quickly learned, and got to watch my little girl walk out onto the football field with the beautiful ladies and handsome young men of the homecoming court; escorted by her male kindergarten counterpart, the crown-bearer.
The announcers read off her name and our names and her favorite color, food, animal and future plans (I guess this week she wants to be a vet). She handed off a lovely bouquet of flowers to the homecoming king, to present to his queen. Or rather, he coaxed them out of Hannah’s confused grip to give to his queen, because she’s five and her grasp on what was happening was pretty wobbly. It was very sweet, and now I know what a homecoming flower girl is.
But that’s not all I learned from my first high school football game in fourteen years. Here are a few other gems of experience I was able to take away from Friday night’s Kiowa County High School homecoming game, courtesy of old age and general awkwardness…
1. Everything else really does get smaller as I get older.
Apparently the football field is no exception. While the announcer introduced the night’s opposing teams, Joel made a comment about how close together the field goals seemed to be, and wondered if it really was a result of changing age and perspective; until we noticed the center of the field, which was the forty yard line. I guess the football field is only eighty yards now. I remember 100 yards.
It was a different field, at a different school, in a different state; but I remember it like it was yesterday. I used to be a Rangerette. The epitome of cool. Out there every Friday night with the marching band, nailing flag and dance routines like the rock star that I must’ve thought I was. “Hey Elaina, you’re a total rock star! You really should be dancing more! In front of an audience!”
Said no one, ever.
2. High school seniors are so much younger than they were fourteen years ago.
No really. We were never that young. Joel agrees.
3. School spirit looks good on everyone. Except me, that is, because everyone can tell by looking at me that I’ve only been inside the school one time and I don’t even know any of the students and they only know who I am because I’m sitting next to Joel and I don’t. even. like. football.
Oh, and even though the school colors are eerily similar to the orange and black that oozed from the depths of my soul from 1998 to 2002, I couldn’t seem to muster a single piece of burnt orange school spirited apparel for the big game. I’m going to have to get my act together with that soon, since I’ve already got a kindergartner and a preschooler. I’m not sure if that counts as a foot in the door of the Kiowa County School District, but it’s at least a big toe.
4. I still remember absolutely everything I ever knew about football.
Which is nothing.
5. The cheerleaders here… they throw things.
It was awesome, actually. The fans were shouting, the cheerleaders were cheering. School spirit was everywhere. And then the cheerleaders started throwing stuff at us.
Candy, plastic cups, Mardi Gras beads, t-shirts; hurtling through the air like rattling, swaying, flip-flopping bombshells of ubiquitous school pride. Unfortunately, I didn’t know what was happening, so I hit the deck and took cover under my bleacher seat.
Not quite though, because I’m not that quick on my feet. Really I just threw my hands over my head in a panicked duck-and-cover maneuver, for fear of death by skittles. Joel caught a cup for Hannah, though. He’s not given to panic.
6. My kids inherited their grace from me.
Friday night I watched my firstborn spawn face-plant over the bleacher seat next to me – butt end up, legs soaring, sparkling black flower girl dress elegantly cascading around her up-ended undies.
Without missing a beat, Joel asserted to our friends behind us that she’s been taking falling lessons from me. I couldn’t hide the swell of motherly pride as I saw myself in her awesome exhibit of the gross motor ineptitude and the countless opportunities for amusement she may one day pass on to her children and their children after them. That’s my girl.
7. Football is still the only real-life-time-warp that has ever caused me to endure thirty seconds for ten minutes.
Thirty seconds; ten minutes. My brain and my bleacher-butt can’t handle this. Please, for the love, make it stop.
So I learned a lot from KCHS homecoming game 2015. What I didn’t learn though – who won the game. We had a little one with us, so we left at halftime. Did I mention the ten-minute thirty seconds? We stuck around to watch the cheerleaders perform (shout out to the cheerleaders, who are super cute and talented!), and walked out of the stadium to the sound of the marching band playing twenty-five or six to four, which triggered a threatening nostalgia for the days when our marching band used to play… the…same…song….
I think I mostly avoided bringing shame upon the family legacy by exercising superhuman restraint to defy my genetic code, which interprets music playing as the world’s personal invitation to execute a one-woman flash mob.
“Please put on a public dance show, Elaina! It will be so awesome!” Said only me, in my head.
All-in-all it was great fun. An incredible rush of reminiscence and old age and community and irrelevance and team spirit and inhibition-I-didn’t-know-I-still-had-and-will-definitely-have-to-overcome-for-the-good-of-community-but-not-my-pride.
I think I’d like to do it again sometime.