Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving Bowl

"Make sure you are home well before dinner is ready please." My mom hollers from the kitchen as I run out the door, down the two flights of stairs and push through the front door of my apartment building. My friends are gathered in front, tossing the football back and forth to each other. It is overcast and a little rainy this Thanksgiving morning, perfect weather for the game. As we walk to the park, a few more kids from our housing project join us, prepared for battle with the rival complex positioned directly across the street. I am wearing two t-shirts, grey sweatpants, and a blue hoodie sweatshirt with my white canvas sneakers, the standard athletic attire for kids in 1979. We cross the street, up the sidewalk path, and stop at the top of the hill,  looking down towards the enemy field. The other team is already there, receivers running patterns as their quarterback rockets the ball into their hands. We look at each other, then march down the other side of the hill, one by one squeezing thought the hole on the fence and enter the field, set for the Annual Pomonok vs. Electchester Thanksgiving game.

The history of this game goes back to the 1950's when the two complexes were first completed. There are no complex presidents, no board members, and no representatives attending the game. There are no referees, no chalk lines, and no time keepers present. No one is wearing pads, helmets or uniforms, just a bunch of kids and a ball, playing no rules tackle football.

The game starts like every other game, with arguments on both sides; was it a catch or not; out of bounds or in bounds, each team vying for leverage. The morning turns to afternoon as the game goes on for hours, some kids leaving for holiday travel and new arrivals taking their place, but I keep playing, moving from running back to receiver to defensive positions.

My team (Pomonok) is up by three points when Electchester is driving down the field. I am playing on defense, calling out coverage, "I got the kid in the red jersey, you get the kid in the blue sweatpants." The quarterback yells "Hike" and all receivers take off towards the end zone. "Three Mississippi, four Mississippi, the counter yells, then squeals "Baall!" I am running alongside red jersey when I spot the ball gliding out of the sky and in my direction. I try to time my jump as red jersey veers to make the catch. I stay right with him and just as I see the laces spiraling closer I leap up as we both stretch out our arms to meet the ball at the exact same time. Our bodies crash into each other and we hit the ground, the ball rolling away.

Red jersey jumps up screaming "Pass interference, pass interference!" Everyone on the field runs over to argue for their team. I lay on the ground dazed from the hit, my leg is stinging from the collision. The argument goes on for about fifteen minutes when someone asks about the time. "Its 3:30pm." A little kid in a brown  down vest and a yellow hat replies. All of a sudden kids are scattering all over the field, looking for their coats, gloves and hats and scurry their way home for Thanksgiving dinner. I am still on the floor and realize I need to get home as well. I make my way to my feet and start to walk, but my hip is not cooperating. It feels hot and very sore. A few of my friends help me limp home and I gingerly make my way back up the two flight of stairs and enter my apartment. I swing the door open and it hits the table, forgetting it will be extended for the big dinner and thus leaving the front door to only open a quarter of the way. The silverware clangs ans one water glass spills over, resulting in a snap from my mom. "You are late, now go clean yourself up!" I limp into my room, carefully take off my muddy clothes and wait my turn for the bathroom to be free (one bathroom in a family of six results in prolonged bathroom wait time). As I shower, I study my now multicolored swollen leg and I can only think of one thought, I cannot wait until next year and the next Thanksgiving game.

What is your favorite Thanksgiving game memory? Send me you story for a chance to win a prize from Clorox, sponsors of the Clorox Toilet Bowl. Follow them on Facebook at facebook.com/odetothecommode

“I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Dad Central Consulting on behalf of Clorox and received a gift code, toilet wand and football to thank me for taking the time to participate.”


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