Thursday, September 5, 2013

On This Date in 1998

It’s the middle of the afternoon. Andy is resting on the family room couch and watching TV, his energy level drained as a result of a football scrimmage he played in this morning. Eddie’s in another part of the house, listening to a Beatles tape on my Walkman. JoAnna is at the Erpenbach’s helping to pain campaign signs for Jon.

Yesterday morning I stopped at the house on my way to a library meeting in Monona. As I approached the side door, I could hear very loud music spilling out of the open kitchen window, where Boxer was stretched out on the sill.

What’s going on here, I wondered. Did Andy and a bunch of friends skip school and decide to have a party? Nah, he’s not old enough yet to pull that kind of stunt. (And, hopefully, he’ll be responsible enough never to consider such delinquent behavior.)

Or maybe JoAnna and Hall had another, perhaps final, go-round.

As I was unlocking the door, I noticed that Boxer had a spooked look at his face, as if something had startled him and sent a jolt from his whiskers to the end of his tail.

“Hello, anybody home?” I called out after closing the door behind me. It was an inane thing to say since no one would have heard me anyway.

I walked toward the source of the noise, realizing in two steps into the kitchen that our Bose radio was shaking the walls of the living room. Having developed his ability to leap from a sitting position, Boxer has become skillful at springing onto higher surfaces, wanting a change form always viewing his world from floor level. He must have jumped on top of the bookcase on which the radio sits and accidentally turned it on as he was padding around. He must have also pushed the volume bar. What a shock that must have been for him. I’d like to replay that one and tape it for America’s Favorite Home Videos. It would be an instant classic.

I can’t even remember what I returned home for now, but it’s fortuitous that I did. Otherwise, Kitty Meowsers would have been headbangin’ all day. Andy must have used the radio last since it was turned to a station that JoAnna and I don’t listen to. Our letter carrier might have raised an eyebrow as he dropped off our mail. And Andy might have had second thoughts about entering the house when he returned home from school.

My meeting ended at 1:00, and it was very tempting to play hooky for the rest of the afternoon. We were heading into the Labor Day weekend with perfect summertime weather conditions: a clear sky, temperature around 80, low humidity, a light breeze. Great beach weather. Good day for a bike ride. However, I did have some loose ends to tie up at work, so I made the library my destination, although I did squeeze in a few stops along the way, mostly to stock up on a short list of food items.

Andy was at football practice when Eddie and I returned home at 5:30. He changed into his soccer uniform, and I drove him to his practice. Then I mowed the front yard, which has responded pretty well to my summer-long efforts at reseeding. Last year at this time, the lawn was starting to look like a wasteland. This year a few small bare patches remain, but viewed from the street and even the sidewalk, the lawn is a very healthy and attractive shade of green, with few weed visible.

After I finished with this chore, I quenched my thirst with two large glasses of ice water. I had a half hour to kill before picking up the boys at football practice in Cross Plains.

I wondered if the Cubs game was on TV. During my scan of the sports page I had noticed that Chicago was playing at Pittsburgh. A 7 o’clock starting time there would mean the game had started. I grabbed the remote and pressed the “on-off” button. While waiting for the picture to come into view, I heard the Three Rivers crowd cheering wildly. Something big has happened, I thought, and, sure enough, there’s Sammy Sosa rounding third base, doing his home run trot. #57, which gives him the Cubs’ season record, held for nearly 50 years by Hack Wilson. (I’m too lazy to get up and verify how many years it’s been.)

Eddie had big news to share with me when I picked him up at After School yesterday. All week JoAnna and I had been helping him study for his end-of-week spelling test. Considering the difficulties he’s had so far learning to read, we thought a spelling test could be a very frustrating experience for him. Each night we quizzed him on his list of words: class, fat, have, as, land, ant, band, ask, fast, tag.

I have to admit that his spelling test wasn’t on my mind when I walked into the school. I had to think a moment when he burst out, “Guess what, Dad? I aced the test!”

He was so proud of himself, and deservedly so. That first evening – Wednesday - -he started to balk when I sat him down at the kitchen table for his first practice test, but I think JoAnna and I made him realize the importance of preparation.

Andy’s football team played their first full scrimmage today – four 9-minute quarters against the other St. Francis Xavier 4th & 5th grade team. Andy played center on all the offensive plays an did a great job. His good friend Riley is the quarterback. Andy has attempted a point after, which missed by inches; he kicked an excellent punt, and even kicked off once. In this league, teams do not run the ball back on kick-offs or punts. The ball is played where it is downed, or the receiving team gets ten yards if a player catches the ball on the fly. That’s why Andy’s punt was so good. He kicked it to the right side of the field, where no one was covering. Oh, by the way. The final score? Andy’s team won, 20-14. Next Saturday, the team beings its regular season schedule of games.

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