“And they’ll watch the game and it’ll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they’ll have to brush them away from their faces.” – Terence Mann, Field of Dreams
When I was in high school, football games were never about football. Freshman through Junior years, I played alto saxophone in the Daviess County High School Band of Pride, and Friday night home games meant marching at halftime, playing in a raucous pep band, and, when it was all over, loading everything into the massive red and white trailer for the next day’s competition in Hopkinsville or Murray or State Finals. Those were good days.
A few weeks ago, I brought my wife and my camera to the Daviess County / Apollo game. She’s from the other side of the world so I wanted to show her my old stomping grounds and a bit of American football, but my primary motivations were selfish. I wanted to reminisce. And that I did.
We sat near where the pep band use to set up, but I didn’t sit there for long. I had to stop by the grassy slope where we used to hang out and not watch the game. I had to visit the concession stand for the ubiquitous hot chocolate and those round nachos that are slightly too wide, salting and chapping the corners of your mouth after you run out of cheese halfway through. (15 years later, they’re still conservative with cheese.)
I had to look up at the press box and then slightly further up where a few years after college I ran camera for Time Warner Cable Channel 8. I had to smell the grill smoke, see the parents with consumer camcorders, hear those obnoxious but well-meaning plastic clapper things, and feel the crisp end-of-October Owensboro air.
I keep saying I had to, and indeed it was compulsion. Those good days are getting a good distance further away. Most people are content to let them drift, perhaps one day living them again vicariously through their kids. I look forward to that, too, but I wanted to remember that I lived them here first and lived them well. Before the mistakes, missteps, and missed opportunities of my twenties, I marched.
Speaking of which, the marching band wasn’t there that night. (I imagine they were at State Finals where the Band of Pride belongs.) So we left at halftime.
This was never about football.