The last time I shed a real tear, as in cried, it was when I realized that I had allowed the application deadline for freshman year at Loyola High School to pass for my son. 'Nuff said on that. Since then, I have gotten used to the idea that Boy will accomplish what he needs outside of that well-wrapped universe, but every once in a while it stabs me like a splinter in my mind.
Whenever that stabbing pain arrives, I console myself primarily with the knowledge that he will be in a better position socially than I was, and that as a Loyola alum myself, I am quite capable of transferring those lessons I got. But then again, he won't live it.
Be all that as it may, I am coming back around into the old high school family slowly but surely. It has gravity. Last night I attended the opener against Mira Costa High one town over from me in Manhattan Beach. It was the second high school football game I've attended in as many nights (Boy's frosh team stomped North Torrance High something like 45 - 7 on Thursday - he got one unassisted tackle.) and also the second in about three decades. I can tell you that it's truly weird not to be able to see the replay or hear the commentary, but extra cool to be one of the few with binocs and see the fumble before the crowd does. Still, I have to bone up on my football observation skills.
What struck me most about this whole deal is that the spirit of the Loyola fan base is monstrous. I can't say that I know what to compare it to, but it was truly pretty awesome to see first hand. I never hated football, but I've always disliked the whole 'fan' thing. I'm not a very good booster. I like to play, I like to make a difference personally. But last night I put on the hat and sat in the bleachers and shared the binocs and met a whole lot of people I hardly expected to meet. It got to the point when I was asking strangers if perhaps I knew them. Marlon and Darryl, I knew and I rather expected to be there, pillars of the Family as they are. But seeing Michael and Kirk and Ty and Frank was pleasantly unexpected.
The game itself was jerky. It had no offensive continuity. As Coach Porterfield said, it looked like a bad soccer match, nothing happened until one team made a mistake. We counted at least five illegal procedure calls. There were about 4 sacks, several fumbles and interceptions. A pass interference and a technical foul within a couple plays of a punt return had everybody scratching their heads. And if that announcer says 'Boom Shacka Lacka or 'punting situation' one more time, I was going to scream. I don't know how bad high school football kicking games are supposed to be, but some of this was straight Keystone Kops. Nevertheless, there were some breakout plays especially by a kid named Jones, I think #84 and especially Loyola's #2, an unstoppable hole-splitting running back who seemed to break tackles just for the fun of it.
Most impressive to me was the energy of the place. It was standing room only from the opening kickoff until pass the closing 'boom shacka lacka'. I couldn't catch the chants that the Loyola student section was doing with their tomahawk motions, but that block of them about 20 wide and 8 rows deep was pretty awesome.
I think I could make this into a habit, that is, when Redondo Union is away. Go Seahawks! Go Cubs!