After a rather lonely ninth grade at my new school I decided that my social survival depended on belonging to a group my sophomore year of high school.
The Populars claimed they had no openings, the Nerds saw right through me, the Stoners were friendly and welcoming but I didn’t get high so it was always awkward. That left the Jocks. All that seemed to be required was to show up and have some physical ability. I went out for football that fall, not having a clue as to the rules, the positions or how to play. I was therefore assigned to the line. “Okay kid, your job is to move that guy this direction so this guy can run by with the ball.” Simple enough. After being destroyed a few times by “that guy,” I decided to do something radical. I started listening very carefully to the coaches. “It’s simple, girls. Whoever gets lower and keeps driving their feet is going to win.” I tried it. I was indeed that simple. I was shocked that nobody else seemed to listen to or believe the coaches. I could move “that guy” any direction I wanted and he just got more and more angry. There was of course, a price to pay on the bottom of the pile in terms of eye gouges and cleats deliberately applied to bare legs, but that didn’t dampen my new found feeling of belonging.
After several weeks of practice, it was time to name the varsity line up. Coach made the annoucement, “There are three sophomores who will be suiting up this Friday…” I heard the first two names, “No surprise there, those guys are animals,” I thought to myself. Then they said my name. I heard several of my teammates whisper, “Who?” “You’ll soon find out,” was my confident, albeit, silent response.
On one wall of the boy’s shower room were the individual shower heads that the seniors used. In the middle were several free standing stations with four heads each for the rest of us. Chuck, the alpha senior walked over to a center station and turned on the shower next to me.
“You looked good out there, 71.”
“Thanks.” I said, trying to act casual.
“You need to know that there may be some guys around here who aren’t too pleased about not suiting up Friday,” he confided.
“Oh yeah?” I said, acting surprised.
Chuck looked me in the eye. “But you can’t let that get to you. You’re varsity now.”
By this point I noticed several seniors staring over at me.
“If it gets too bad I want you to come talk to me, alright?” Chuck said, staring straight at me.
“Okay, thanks,” I assured him.
I began to hear muffled laughter. The water on my legs went suddenly warmer. I looked down to find the water color had changed as well. Chuck finished peeing on me and walked off.
Welcome to the group.