3.On Friday there’s a football game against our rival school, Olera High. Our schools are really close, less than two miles away as the crow flies. Laffotta High thinks they’re our rivals but they aren’t really. Our games versus Olera are always the important ones.
This year the game is even bigger because both of our teams are undefeated. On Friday all the football players wear their jerseys, and look really focused and don’t talk to anyone. A lot of people wear red, one of our school colors. At lunch some juniors try to put up a large sign on the fence by the football field that says “F*** Olera” but a vice-principal catches them and they have to take it down, even though he’s laughing.
Then school ends and everyone except the football players and the cheerleaders go home. Rodney and Eli ask me if I want to go get dinner with them before the game and so I do. None of us are wearing red, but I have a red pom-pom and Rodney has a “Go Cougars” beanie. The cougars are our mascot. Eli doesn’t have anything but he doesn’t care.
We get to the game a half hour early and the parking is already difficult. Parents from both schools and even just from the neighborhood are here for the game. Eventually we park and we watch as Olera and Matero students alike park around us. All the Olera students are wearing green.
We go to the game. It begins, and we score a touchdown within the first minute. The student bleachers are an ecstatic mob of red, roaring and writhing with every play. Rodney and Eli don’t want to sit in the bleachers so we lean against the short fence right next to the field, behind the cheerleaders. I see one I know pretty well, Alisa, and I wave to her and she smiles and waves back.
At halftime we’re up 28-0. Their cheerleaders do a routine, but it seems mechanical and not motivating. Our cheerleaders do a routine mostly based around dancing, a raw display of sexuality and power.
Then the game begins again. The Olera coach is fat and red in the face. Our coaches eye him disdainfully, strutting the field confidently and slapping our players on the ass.
At one point one of our players gets the ball, and as he runs down the field a green clad behemoth stands in front of him. But our player runs right at him, and smashes his shoulder right into the behemoth’s chin. The Olera player falls like a rag doll. Our player scores, and then walks back to the Olera player on the ground and leans down and says something to him. I notice that he’s subtly pushing one of the spikes on his cleat into the fallen players finger, rocking it back and forth. Then he walks away and the crowd cheers again.
We win the game. We storm the field and cheer, high-fiving the team. The captain takes his helmet off and kisses his girlfriend in the middle of the swarming crowd. I see a few Olera students, short ones with bad acne, yelling at some of our students. They laugh in response and a parent audibly tells the Olera students that “Matero fucked you up!” and the crowd cheers and laughs some more.
Rodney and Eli and I walk back to Eli’s car. On the way we see a couple of mom’s yelling at each other, really loudly. One of them is so distracted that she steps of the curb by accident and falls on her butt in the street. The other mom sneers and walks away while the woman who fell begins to cry. We walk by and see that she’s wearing an Olera sweatshirt and nobody in front or behind us stops to help her up. A girl in an Olera cheerleading outfit runs over to her and an SUV with Matero stickers on it stops next to them and rolls down it’s window and yells “Sluts!” and then drives away.
We get in Eli’s car and he starts it but pauses for a minute to say, “We lost the water polo game yesterday. We haven’t beaten them in water polo for six years.” I laugh and then remember Rodney’s on the team but he’s laughing a little too and he says, “Yeah, our captain stayed home today because he felt so awful about it.”
The traffic is so bad that it takes us twenty minutes just to get out of our spot. We sit in the darkness and can hear obscenities being yelled all around and at one point a parent says “Language please!” and it quiets down until he passes but then it starts up again. Eli plays some Odd Future and Rodney asks if I noticed that Sara was in the middle of the cheer routine tonight and I just kind of twitch my neck. I have a steadily ascending headache.
It’s too early to go home so we drive to an elementary school and sit against a wall under an overhang and talk while it starts to rain. The moon is blue above us, shining hazily through the rain. There’s a slight breeze in our direction and drops decorate our faces like glitter.