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Return to Odessa
H.G. BISSINGER
October 04, 2004
A new movie based on his controversial 1990 best seller about high school football in West Texas took the author on a long-dreaded journey to revisit his main characters
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October 04, 2004

Return To Odessa

A new movie based on his controversial 1990 best seller about high school football in West Texas took the author on a long-dreaded journey to revisit his main characters

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I walk into the store and am besieged. The local television stations are there, and so are newspaper reporters. Behind them is a line of people, well over a hundred, stretching the length of the store. I am overwhelmed. I take a seat at the table and begin to autograph books, but it doesn't feel like a signing. It feels like a surprise party at which I see people who were once a big part of my life.

In the middle of it all Boobie arrives, because I have asked him to join me. We sit together at the little table, a Jew from New York City who grew up knowing nothing but privilege next to a black man from West Texas who knew little besides heartache. We laugh. People want Boobie's autograph as much as mine, so our names go together into Friday Night Lights.

I look over at him as he signs with a flourish, not aware that I'm watching him. I have done that a thousand times with my three sons. The smile on Boobie's face is so broad, the sparkle in his eyes so bright, that I think maybe, just maybe....

Several weeks later I speak with Boobie on the phone. "Are you still working?" I ask. It's always the first thing I ask.

"No," he says sheepishly.

He had a falling out with his boss over money and other issues. I ask him what he's going to do now. He says, "I got to get a real job."

"You have to work, Boobie."

"I know I have to work."

We talk for 10 or 15 minutes. I wonder if he and his boss can patch it up. I urge Boobie to think about it. I call the boss, who's feeling hurt and puzzled. I urge him, too, to think about settling their differences, but there's not much hope. What's done is done, I know better than ever.

There is no way for Boobie, or me, or anyone, to erase what has happened.

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