And when all the arguing was done, somebody might notice you standing there all by yourself and he'd say, "Oh, you can have him."
"Naw, you take him."
And then, when you were the last one picked, you'd run over to your team, your head down, your whole body flushed with shame and embarrassment. That's the way it felt to be the last picked.
Al Blaylock was my special hero for several reasons. One was that he was a starter on the Bay City Black Cats football team. Another was that when he was a captain in the game on Dr. Simon's lot, he'd see that I wasn't the last one picked.
There was a third reason, too. I had fallen off a garage one time and broken my nose and collarbone. Because of this my mother had expressly forbidden me to go on the roof of our garage or that of any other garage.
Well, what my mother didn't know was that I wasn't playing on the roofs of garages; I was conducting aeronautical research. I was looking for a roof with the perfect slope and enough runway to launch the glider I was building.
And one day it occurred to me that the Blaylock garage might be perfect. It was a shedlike affair with a high front that fell off to a low back and appeared to have enough runway to give me air speed.
But I needed a closer look. So one day I shinnied to the top, made some quick calculations that convinced me it would work and then started to get off at the low end. But just as I was sliding over the edge, I slipped and managed to snag a ring that my grandmother had given me on a protruding nail.
And there I hung, about two feet from the ground, unable to pull myself back up enough to get the ring off the nail.
Just then Al came out the back door of his house and immediately saw my trouble. He lifted me up by the legs so I could free myself, set me on the ground and promised never to tell my mother.