This past Tuesday night I went to my first ever high school basketball game. "How can this be?" you ask? I went to a high school where they didn't have such things. No basketball, no football, no baseball. We had a Chess team though. Really. I went to a performing arts/magnet high school where those three sports were considered distractions to our academic pursuits.
One of our friends is a teacher and a coach at a local high school. From what I understand, his team is consistently the underdog. This year they made it into the playoffs so Eddie and I wanted to take the time to support him and his team by going to the big game.
When the night of the game rolled around, I was a bit nervous. I was going back to high school. It was like I was about to travel through time. It didn't matter that it wasn't my high school or that I wouldn't know a soul except for the coach and his wife. It mattered that I was going to a place where I assumed I wouldn't fit in. As we strolled towards the gym from the parking lot, I felt like I was in some kind of high school movie. There were cheerleaders in uniform congregating near the back of a truck filled with fans. They were chanting a team cheer and playing high intensity music. I held Eddie's hand and let him guide me, like a tourist in Times Square, so I could look around without worry of bumping into anyone or hitting my nose on a tree.
When we got into the gym everything was so real. This was a real
high school. I couldn't get over it; I couldn't take it in fast enough. There was a concession stand, (nachos!) players in uniform, parents dressed in team colors, photographers, loud music and mascots. I loved it.
[Reading these paragraphs back to myself, it certainly
seems as though I was raised with the Amish or in
some communist country. I assure you, my high school
life was far less interesting than those.]
We sat with the coach's wife and the team videographer. They just happen to sit in the opposing team's fan section. This is so she can sit behind her husband and the videographer has a perch with the best view. Eddie and I wanted to experience the experience, and in an effort do that we could rationalize concessions. For me, that means nachos. I was able to resist the giant pickle, but it was a close call. When we returned to our seats, it was evident that we were in the parent section. I immediately deemed this the most interesting - sitting in the visiting parents section. I couldn't wait to see how these people reacted to the game. Bring on the stereotypes!
I didn't know they would actually show their faces. For the first quarter, I was concentrating more on my nachos in an effort to leave the game without wearing most of them. My parent-watching wasn't in full swing until the second quarter, but the way-too-into-the-game-grandmother showed her colors early on. She could whistle. Not the "put your lips together and blow" whistle, but the ear-drum piercing, want to throw your drink at her head, two finger in the mouth, spawn from decibel hell. Of course, she sat directly to the right of us.
On our left was dad-of-the-star-of-the-opposing-team. The other kids on his son's team could do no right. I knew it was dad-of-the-star-of-the-opposing-team when he stood up and yelled, "What? Are you STUPID? THROW THE BALL! You're a high school player. You should know better than that crap! Give Tyler the ball!" He almost hit the coach's wife with his elbow as he stood abruptly, putting his hands on his hips in consternation. He didn't look like he was having much fun.
In the end, our team lost on a bunch of sucker fouls (me and the lingo!) and only a few points. As we were leaving, we passed some tearful cheerleaders planting their faces into the chests of strong men and the room where our friend, the coach was helping to console his players. I was a little sad too. It would've been nice to see the underdog win.
My role in the high school movie ended as I walked out into the same parking lot, weaving through weary fans, tightly holding the hand of the man I searched for back in Amish country. We'll both be going back to high school next season to root for our friend and our team.