Un-Covering Football

EDITOR’S NOTE: This column is written in the present tense, but we don’t know why. We suspect that Eric may be doing it for effect, or something like that, but we’re really not sure. He never tells us anything.

It is November 16. The Elsinore Tigers are playing the San Bernardino Cardinals in CIF Division 5 Bonus Round Final Jeopardy Playoffs. I am sitting in the announcer’s booth with my friend Ron Chadwick. I decided I should sit with Ron because he knows a lot about football whereas I, when it comes to football, couldn’t write my way out of a paper bag.

This is the second game I have covered. My first game was two weeks ago, in Corona, or someplace, I don’t recall exactly where. It was real cold, though. And I had a cold. My head cavities (of which I have several) were literally bulging with various mucous-related semi-fluids. But there I was, furiously writing notes, taking time every few minutes to expel a major gob.

I didn’t go to last week’s game because it was the same night as the 200th episode of “Cheers,” and if I have to look at a bunch of dumb guys, I’d rather see some that aren’t grunting and sweating and patting one another’s bottoms affectionately (something Norm and Cliff rarely do).

Anyway, here I am now, sitting in the booth with Ron, pretending to understand this football game. It seems to involve the attempted murder of anyone not wearing red and white, because all I can see are these enormous high school students, some of them so large that they require license plates, falling on top of whoever has the ball at the moment and then helping him up and patting his bottom affectionately. There is a lot of bottom-patting in football. More than in fencing, for example.

It is several hours later. We have won the game in Sudden Death Terminal Illness Bite Your Nails Right Off Overtime. Everyone seems real happy.I’m now hurrying through the extremely large and slow-moving crowd to find coach Carrozzo. The crowd is particularly slow-moving tonight because they are High on Victory, although many of them, I suspect, managed to achieve that feeling several hours ago through the use of certain controlled substances, namely the green-ish sauce that is used to festoon the taquitos sold in the snack bar.

I have made it. There’s Mr. Carrozzo. “Mr. Carrozzo!” I say, summoning all of the quick-thinking skills that I must utilize as a journalist. “How do you feel right now?” He talks in to my tape recorder and I nod my head and say, “Uh-huh” as I scan the passing crowd for a date to the victory party, which will be held at one of 9,814 pizza places in Lake Elsinore.

After a few minutes, I discover that Mr. Carrozzo has finished talking to my tape recorder and has begun walking toward the team room. I decide to follow him in the hopes of finding out what he just said, because as it turns out, I pushed PLAY instead of RECORD, and we’ve been listening to Mr. Brouwer explain how Andrew Jackson was a drunken womanizer. Or maybe it was Mr. Olpin. The drunken womanizer, I mean.

I have reached the team room. There is a mass of girls outside, waiting for their triumphant boyfriends to emerge so they can engage in some major spit-swapping. I push through the girls.

I am inside the team room. Everyone is laughing and happy and patting each other’s bottoms affectionately. The atmosphere can best be described as: sweaty. It’s almost like a mist, the sweat. My glasses are fogging up. My notepad is wilting. My tape recorder, which is still playing Mr. Brouwer, is beginning to short circuit.

I’d better get out of here. The semi-nude players, several of whom, I notice, have more upper body hair than all the men in France put together, are looking at me funny anyway. Particularly my cousin, Stephen Kaas, who always gets mad because I never mention him in my football stories. I can’t mention him, though, because all the players look alike, especially when they’re on top of each other, so I never know when he’s done something.

I suppose I could follow my grandmother’s advice, which is to just say “Stephen Kaas” whenever I’m not sure who it really was…

“The Tigers capped off an 8-play drive, led by Stephen Kaas, when Stephen Kaas caught Stephen Kaas’ pass five yards from the goal line and then ran for the touchdown, breaking through several tackles, many of which involved people named Stephen Kaas.”

But that would be silly.

This column is full of reality, unlike the last one, where I made up a bunch of stuff. Mr. Brouwer was my history teacher, and he did sometimes talk about how various historical figures were drunken womanizers. Mr. Olpin was the newspaper adviser, and we always suspected he was a drunken womanizer. I really did have a cold, and it really was the 200th episode of "Cheers," and my grandmother really did suggest that I mention my cousin Stephen more often. It's funny because it's true!

Some football-related people (girlfriends, mostly) got "offended" at my portrayal of everybody. They can blow it out their ears, though, and I think they probably did.

Oh, and the "Editor's Note" at the beginning was taken out by the editor, because he was afraid people would think it was a REAL editor's note, and not something I had written. He didn't have much faith in the intelligence of my readers, I guess.

Post-script: After this had been posted on my Web site for almost a year, I received an e-mail from someone. She referred to my statements on suspecting Olpin was a "drunken womanizer," and then she said this:

"You are not the only one to have come to this conclusion; however, I was thelast to find out."

The letter was signed, "[so-and-so], Mr. Olpin's ex-wife."

This made me sad. We knew Olpin was rowdy and irreverent, but I don't think any of us seriously suspected him of any major wrong-doing. Yet at the same time, I recall thinking that I wouldn't be surprised to find out such a thing WAS true. I guess it was, and I guess I'm not surprised. Too bad for his ex-wife, who seems like a nice woman, but good riddance to bad rubbish, no?