"And what if I did this?" he says.
"You would be cast into your room and, like Byron's prisoner of Chillon, never see the light of day again. Much less a football."
He is delighted.
In our town's opening high school football game, against a highly ranked team, our fullback scores a touchdown in overtime to draw his team to within two. Make a two-point conversion and the game continues.
Z and his seventh-grade pals are watching as the fullback stands over his downed foe and taunts him, receiving an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. The ball is moved back 15 yards for the extra point. Of course, our team can't convert a two-point play from 18 yards out, and the game ends 28-26.
I am worried that my son will not see the stupidity in the fullback's outburst. But it seems he does.
"That was ill," says Z.
In my Peoria-area conference, the Mid-State Nine, the toughest team was Pekin High. Pekin was good in football and most other sports, and in both my freshman and senior years it won the Illinois state basketball championship, crushing down-state and Chicago teams en route. I usually had to guard Pekin's heavy-bearded white forward, Fred Miller, when my Peoria Rich-woods team played the school. Miller was a muscular 6'4", and he could dunk, and would. This was unheard of for white guys back then, and Pekin was all white. But Pekin was different. Times were different. The school's official nickname was the Chinks.
"You are ruining my life!" Robin yelled. And then the door slammed. The hinges have been fixed, since we've been in this house, four times. Once, I told her, or maybe it was her sister who was then in that room, that when the door came off its hinges the next time, it would stay like that. And it did, for more than a month, propped against the jam like a plywood sheet in a lumber yard. What her mother and I wanted Robin to do was go to a field hockey day camp for three days, since she was going to try out for that sport at her high school, and everybody who would make the team was going. Robin has a very active social life, and this camp, to which she had initially agreed to go, was now a cast-iron anchor on her winged soul.
"You don't care about me at all!" she hollered, having reappeared. She went back into her room. She came out again.