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The X-Rated Football Game MAG
An Adaptation of a "true story" printed in The Boston Globe.
A crisp autumn chill blew around the stands of the football field, blowing leaves in tumultuous journey across the frozen ground. Boos and cheers fought from the benches surrounding the players. Excitement and tension filled the stadium of the game between the rival teams. The cold weather didn't stop the audience from cheering or the players from playing: it was the last football game of the season.
Families had even traveled from their distant homes to watch the game with the alumni and students. The Moores had made the trek as well, to watch their son play his last game for UMass. It might well be his last game altogether because he was graduating the following spring. To capture these historic tackles and passes, the coveted family camcorder was taken along, too.
Recording the action and noise, Mrs. Moore panned the field and followed the ball's play. Between downs, she zoomed down to the bench where her son sat in his unsoiled uniform waiting to play. Hopefully the coach would let him play this game, maybe, but only if someone was injured. Sitting on the bench gave him a great view of the games, but he had yet to play in any.
Mrs. Moore looked down upon the field with dismay while the camera rapidly picked up the details: someone from her son's team was being carried off the field in a stretcher. Her heart welled with joy, maybe her son would get to play. "Oh honey!" she said to her snoring husband, "Wake up. That's four people down. Looks like Harry will get to play!" With her camcorder poised, she followed the 34 on her son's back as he ran onto the field. At last he would play his first game, and his last.
Among the gruntings of the players, the down began. Cutting through the masses of enemy red jerseys, he ran into the open, awaiting a pass. A high ball flew whizzing over his head, cutting the air above, to the wide receiver standing beyond him. Although the pass wasn't to Harry, he felt a sharp blow to his chest. Gasping for air, he fell with a heavy thud. He had been tackled! And his mother had it on tape! Although he couldn't move very well, a large smile encompassed his ruddy face: he had played.
As he was dragged off the field, his mother looked down at him with pride. Her son had played his first game and the five minutes were firmly captured on the tape. She would have to send copies to the relatives, or they would show it at Thanksgiving. She always knew her Harry could do it, he just needed the opportunity.
* * *
The Thanksgiving meal lay heavily in the large family's stomachs. Remains of the sweet potatoes, peas, creamed onions, stuffing, turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie lay upon the dirty plates by the sink.
"Come on everyone, save the dishes for later. We now have the unveiling of Harry's football game for everyone to watch! We've been saving it until now, so everyone come on into the den," Mrs. Moore's voice rang boastfully. Some groaned because of their over-full stomachs and some from the thought of having to watch a boring game. Grandma and Grandpa hobbled into the room followed by Great Aunt Henrietta, who had been brought specially from the nursing home for the festive occasion. Swarms of great- and grandchildren ran about, jumping over the couches to find the ideal viewing spot while their parents chased them down exasperatedly. Aunts and cousins, step-uncles twice removed, in-laws, and nephews crowded into the room.
Mrs. Moore put the tape in, ready to start. "This is Harry's wonderful game. You know, he helped them to victory. Without him getting hurt they never would have played Arnold Fitzwater, but now wait a minute, he's on first string...Oh, well, I guess I'll tell you the full story later. Now everyone sit back and - oh hush, Jimmy and Oscar or else you won't be allowed to watch!" The boys quieted from the threat of her piercing glance, not from the thought of being barred from watching the heroic game. The room hushed as she slipped in the tape. With the whirling of the VCR, the static screen gave form to the film.
Instead of the football game's cheering and touchdowns, two nude creatures were rolling on the floor, lewdly embracing each other. Grandma screamed, the children old enough to understand giggled, parents guffawed, and poor Mrs. Moore's face turned the color of the cranberry sauce. A young child of four asked "Mommy, Mommy, what are they doing? Why are they laughing? Tell me why, Oscar!" Another comment came roaring from Great Aunt Henrietta in her wheel chair, "If I'd known football was like this, I'da started watching long ago!"
Turning the TV off quickly, Mrs. Moore looked ashamedly around the room. Children were laughing, parents were shocked, Grandma lay fainted on the couch, and old Henrietta was cackling away. Harry, gazing at the floor, wanted to see the rest of the tape but was dreadfully ashamed. Facing a look of shock, Mrs. Moore tried to make amends. "That was a new tape! Fresh from the package! I just don't understand what could have happened. Please excuse me. Really, please forgive me. Whoever is responsible, well, they are going to hear from me! I just can't..." Growing more and more flustered, she gave up. She looked around once more among the chaos and joined Henrietta's laughter. Soon they all began to chuckle, even the four-year-old who didn't understand it. Mrs. Moore was laughing uncontrollably now at the absurdity of it all, yet she was a bit disappointed that they hadn't gotten to see Harry's only football game. n