"Don't forget to put on your helmet," he said. "This is for real and there's not going to be any fooling around."
I said: "How much time is there before...?"
"Ten minutes." he said. "There'll be an award ceremony after the contests and then the game will start."
I looked for my helmet, relieved to see it lying in the grass a few yards away. My impulse was to put it on. From the beginning I'd had trouble getting into the helmet. The procedure was to stick the thumbs in the helmet's ear holes and stretch the helmet out as it came down over the head—a matter of lateral pull, and easy enough if you practiced isometrics, but I never had the strength to get my ears quite clear, so they were bent double inside the helmet once it was on. I would work a finger up inside to get the cars upright again, a painful procedure, and noisy, the sounds sharp in the confines of the hard shell of the helmet as I twisted and murmured until it was done, the ears ringing softly. Then quiet would settle in the helmet, and I would look out beyond the bars of the nose guard—the "cage," the players call it—to see what was going on outside, my eyes still watering slightly. It was even more difficult to get the helmet off. The first helmet Friday Macklem had given me was too small—a helmet is supposed to fit snugly to afford the best protection—and when I tried it on in front of my locker I yelled as it came down over my ears. Wayne Walker, the big linebacker, happened to be chatting with me at the time.
"How'd she feel?"
"Feels fine. Snug," I said. "Once you get the thing on."
I tried to take it off. I got my thumbs in the ear holes and tried to budge the helmet loose.
"I'm stuck in here," I said, simply.
Walker began to grin. He looked down the locker room aisle for other players who would have enjoyed the dilemma. Mercifully, none were on hand.
"Damn!" I said. "I can't budge this thing."