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They’d stop their game from time to time, whenever one of their sandals came apart. The only other times was when someone wanted to park their car. They played on the lot, in the space between the condominium buildings. Flop flop flop flop flop - the sound from their heels slapping against the base of their sandals. You knew a football game was on in the neighborhood when you could hear this sound.

Go long! Go long! Go long, Long!
I’m open! Throw it!

They ran faster. Sometimes, their speed was too much for their shoes and the top strap would tear itself out of the sole. Whenever this happened to someone, they’d call time out with the neon colored plastic tangled around their ankle, sometimes even to their shins. They were cheap sandals. Bought for a dollar at the grocery store. They smelled like throw away plastic when brand new. And when worn down, smelled worse than the asphalt and pavement they were beat under. Everyone on the block wore these. Everyone on the block played football in them. Sneakers were for school. If you did wore them, someone would remark that you were rich, and someone would want to fight you.

It was big event. There were 8 families split between these two buildings and all of them had kids around the same age, which was unique to only this section of the housing complex. All you had to do was come outside and something would be going on. Something From September to May, football was the big event. Here, you were either with the Niners or the Raiders. Who cares that the Raiders were still in Los Angeles. A few were Cowboys fans but no one talked to them. They stayed on the sidelines. Here, you were either Chinese or Cambodian. Everyone else lived down on the other side of the block where you lived peacefully but no one talked to you.

The older ones hated each other. There would be gunshots at night and bullet casings the next morning. The little ones swept these aside with their sandals into the street gutters to make way for the game. On a very basic level, they hated each other as well but didn’t know why. Still, they knew that to get a full game going, you need bodies -- quarterbacks (no all-time quarterbacking), running backs, wide receivers. All you had to do was come outside.

Hey! Time out!
Again!

The game stopped.

You can’t call time out in the middle of the play!
My shoe.

The chubby one held his shoe up. The top strap had exited from the rest of his sandal. Despite his appearance, he was deceptively fast. The fastest.

There is a hole at the front of the sandal, between your big toe and the one next to it, for where the strap held everything in place. It took some effort and angling and strength to push it back in but back in, they were good to go.

They lined back up where the last play had ended, by where a Toyota minivan was parked. Two catches for a first down. They were on third down with no catches.

He ran tore the middle of the middle of the lot, past one of the defenders. The quarterback leaned back and let loose with the ball. The face of orange face of Geoffrey the Giraffe blurred through the air and landed in a set of hands. The catcher stopped yards in front of a car that was coming down the street. The car honked its horn and the driver leaned out the window. I could have fucking killed you! Jesus. Fucking kids. But everyone ignored it. Unless it was pulling into the parking lot, it didn’t matter. The sidewalk, right before the street, was the touchdown.

TOUCHDOWN you motherfuckers!

The boy spiked the ball. It took an odd bounce and lodged itself underneath one of the cars. He ran over to fetch it out. The top was smeared with grease. He wiped it off on the ground before the other kids noticed.

Other kids who were watching along the sides, sitting on the rear bumpers of parked cars, either threw their hands up in disgust or looked on passively, waited for their turn in the next game. A group of five belonged to the same family.

Before he was able to hand the ball back and make the switch from offense to defense, he looked up. Everyone started looking up.

Whoa...

The sky between the buildings was orange and moving. The kids on the side looked up. Some adults came outside and gasped. What was in the sky put everything under a shadow like an occasional cloud patch. Along with it came a sharp flapping sound that felt like it was coming from inside your ear.

They were butterflies. Monarchs, migrating from Mexico over winter and there were thousands of them. The orange cloud moved from the lot, to the street and over to where the buildings across the street were. Dark shapes, birds, swooped in and out of the mass but no one paid attention to these. They were so few compared to everything els. The kids kept watch as the butterflies continued on oblivious.

When the tail of migration passed, someone yelled, time-in.
The chubby kid handed the ball over and the game continued on.











I Want You To Want Me!!




I Want You To Want Me!!





Cheap Trick on Stage in Dallas 7-27-08

I WANT YOU... TO WANT...... MEEEEE!!!!!

Been a long time since my high school days and those words blasted from the speakers of my 1974 El Camino.
They were blasted from the stage in Dallas last night and for an evening we were transported back to those high school days when responsibilities were fewer, gas was 45 cents per gallon, Cindy was just my girlfriend, and there wasn't as much weight bearing down on my soles of my shoes.
Zander sounded very good and the group seemed to play as tight as they ever had.
Maybe they've dropped it an octave or two, but none in the considerably seasoned crowd seemed to care. I know I didn't.

Why couldn't we have had youth and brains??


Took a long time for me to finally see Cheap Trick in concert.
Had hoped to see them long ago, something was always holding me up
When I was a teen, I didn't have time.
When I married young and didn't have kids, the Boss-Lady didn't like concerts.
When I had kids, I didn't have the money.
When the kids got big, I didn't have the time.
When I had the money and the time and the boss-lady would go, most of the ones I wanted to see all died!

Six or seven years back, I wanted to see Cheap Trick, They were all still alive, they were coming to Ft Worth, Billy Bobs was a cheap place to see them, and I had the permission of the Boss-Lady.
Wow!!
I kidnapped Roger and we headed for Billy Bob's Texas.
When we got there, I located a tall table next to the railing and staked a spot. Didnt have chairs for these tables, but it was a place set a drink and it would kind of keep other folks from crowding you.

We had a bit of time before the show started and Roger left to stroll around for drinks while I guarded the table.

A few minutes later someone tapped me on the shoulder and when I turned around, there stood three large gentlemen in big black hats, old western, long overcoats and ear mikes. Wide and tall. They looked serious. The one closest to me must have weighed 320 lbs.
Anything that big and mobile should have to have a license plate.

I smiled real friendly-like. "Yes, Sir?"

The big one asked "Are you with this Gentleman?" and took a snap step to one side and I could see Roger standing behind them. I think they practiced this move a million times.

"Yes Sir"?!?!?!?! ..... Smiling, smmiiiillliing.

" We have been watching your friend and we are exiting him from the building. He said your driving."

Yes, Sir! .... Still smiling, glad to finally know a correct answer.

" That means you'll need to leave too." Sounded real guttural and precise. Lots of practice.

Now, these three folks live to hear idiots repeat, "I AINT GOING NOWHERE!!!" and since I didn't need to be the recipient of the "bums rush" I told the three nice gentleman and Roger "that means we're on the road".

It has been a long time, but Roger and I finally got to see Cheap Trick, the Boss-lady was working, and the only thing that held me up this time was the traffic headed out of Dallas and back to Denton.













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