Yesterday, I went back to my Camelot, although I don't really call it that. Vacantlot would be more like it, though to me it is always a place of magic and wonder. I discovered it over a period of years and, with something like the instincts of a migrating bird, I return there each fall.
Yesterday my son, Randy, went with me. We drove to the local high school practice field and began throwing a football even before we got out of the parking lot.
"Take off for a long one!" I shouted, and he streaked away, a tall boy of 15, the sun glinting off his blond hair. I cocked my arm and waited for him to go a full 30 yards before I threw the ball hard toward a spot I hoped would give him the proper lead. It did, and Randy gathered in the ball on the run. Whirling quickly around, he raised it in his left hand, waved his right in the silent signal recognized by little boys and grown men since footballs started getting passed around on this planet: take off left.
I took off, riding a high that no drug could possibly match, breathing hard and holding my hands chest high, ready to extend them to catch the ball. I saw Randy's arm come forward and the pigskin sail high toward me. I slanted more to the left and ran under it.
Slap! The ball stung my hands and forearms, and I hugged it tight as I slowed down, already starting to turn to loft it back to my son. We ran down the field like that, passing the ball back and forth.
"Way to go, Dad!"
"Good catch, Randy, great!"
As all schoolboys know, you can't have a good game of pass and kick without proper narration and identification with legitimate football heroes.
"Kramer lets it go! And Rashad's got it!" I shout as Randy leaps high to grab the ball. "Oh, what a catch! Touchdown, Vikings!"
There is an odor of new-cut grass. The sky is cloudless and the temperature about 80. A nice breeze is blowing over the field, which sits on a little plateau overlooking green Minnesota farmland.