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the boy with the Colts lanyard
It began slowly. She only really noticed him by the Indianapolis Colts lanyard hanging off his belt loop. It made her wonder a little bit. Nobody else in the entire town declared their loyalties as openly, except maybe the Kelleys who wore their Steelers jerseys to church when Pittsburgh went to the Super Bowl a couple of years back. Even her mother, who bled green and gold, who was born screaming not the incoherent cry of a newborn baby, but instead, “Go Packers!” waited for people to ask before she mentioned it.
That’s what caught her eye, though, was his openness. He was obviously not afraid to tell anyone. That attracted her.
The day she wore her New York Giants sweatshirt it was a dangerous thing. She risked the aggressive animosity of various fearsome Cow boy fans and a few rampantly New England Patriotic jocks. And of course Jack Kelley, who never wore anything that wasn’t emblazoned with the Steelers logo, no matter what season. She risked a lot just to catch the attention of the boy with the Colts lanyard hanging off his belt.
It worked, though, and the horrifyingly grim stares she got from Jack Kelley and a few sundry Seahawk loyals were lost in the glowing success of a comment from the boy with the Colts lanyard hanging off his belt.
He said, “Giants, huh?”
That was all he said, but two sweet words she thought she would treasure forever.
She said, “Yeah.”
He reached for his lanyard and twirled it around his finger. “Colts are better,” he said.
“We’ll see,” she said.
“When?” he asked.
After a while it became a ritual. Every Monday morning, they would talk football. The boy with the Colts lanyard hanging off his belt and the girl with the Giants sweatshirt around her shoulders.
The season went on. After Christmas it became apparent that both the Colts and the Giants were going to the playoffs. The Friday before the conference-level games she passed him as she left school.
“Good luck with the Giants,” he said.
“And you with the Colts,” she said.
“Think they’ll meet in the Super Bowl?” he asked.
She shrugged. “I don’t know.”
He gave her a charismatic, heart-stopping grin. She smiled nervously back. “Hope so,” he said, in a tone that told of a thousand sweet things she knew nothing of.
She smiled again and said shyly, “Have a good weekend.”
“Only if the Colts win,” he replied, his standard response.
She stared after him as he went down the hall. Once he looked back. He gave her another beautiful smile and turned the corner. She sighed.
That weekend the Giants lost to the Bears 17-10, and the Colts fell to the Chargers 28-20. The Super Bowl would be Bears versus Chargers.
On Monday she learned that the boy with the Colts lanyard hanging off his belt had switched out of her first period class. That afternoon she saw him in the hall.
“Sorry about the Giants,” he said.
“Sorry about the Colts,” she said.
He shrugged. She stood there, waiting.
“Well,” he said at last, “guess I’ll see you around.”
“See you around,” she echoed helplessly.
With that, she turned and walked out into the cold where the snow fell so gently it was hard to know it was there. There had been nothing else to do but what she had done. But the next winter, when the Super Bowl came around, and the Giants beat the Chiefs 35-10, she knew he thought of her when she saw him in the hall.