A PENALIZED ROMANCE

Copyright 1992
Sam Elmore


In the midst of watching a pro football game the other day, I was reminded of the penalties which can be incurred just by watching a football game:

The rain was little more than a mist, but my Navy Dress Blue uniform began to weigh like a suit of armor. The uniform material was all-wool, about an eighth-of-an-inch thick; when it got wet, it was a load to carry.

A pretty young lady sat beside me in the misting rain. She and I had dated once or twice before I left home to join the Navy.....I say 'dated', if that means that you and three other couples had gone together to see the horror movies at the local theater. Romance? On my side, it was pretty close to plumb. On her side, I didn't know; and thanks to my younger brother, Baucum, I won't ever find out.

There I was, home on boot-camp leave from the Navy, with seats at the fifty-yard-line of the football field, with her more than a little impressed by those dress blues (wet or dry). A good High School football game was in progress, with my hometown team playing against her hometown team.

The field was beginning to look like a quagmire, with that steadily increasing rain slanting down. Not too cold; just perfect football weather. Every time my li'l brother got his hands on the ball (which was seldom, since he was primarily a defensive player) or made any kind of a play, I'd point and brag, and "goodge" my girl-friend with my elbow. She put up with my carryings-on pretty well; considering that the score late in the third quarter was nineteen-to-nothing.....in favor of her team!

It was difficult to distinguish between the players, with all the rain and the belly-whoppers they were taking down there in the mud. When the game had started, one team was wearing white and the other'n red, but you couldn't prove it this late in the game. Oh, I didn't have any trouble recognizing my li'l brother; he was the tallest player on the field, at almost six feet.

On my girl friend's team, they had a little-bitty short feller that, no matter what kind of play they ran, or whatever his location when they snapped the ball, he always ended up right there...every play. Worse than that (for my team), every time he'd get his hands on that muddy football, he'd scoot through the other players like a greased pig. I mean, that little dude was fast!

Sometime during the excitement of the game I looked down, and me and the pretty girl was holding hands...without even thinking about it!

'Wa'al, now...O (I thought to myself) O...this here is all right! Go 'head on, football game.....go 'head on, dress blues! I have learned me something about this romance bid-ness!'

About that time, every whistle on the field sounded. Penalty. Okay, I thought; go ahead and penalize that other team.....they got it coming. But, they marched off in the wrong direction; against my team. The referee laid the ball down in the mud (somewhere.....all the yard-marker lines had long since washed away), windmilled his arm, and tooted his whistle again.

On the very next play, my li'l brother got the football, somehow-or-other, and took off a-running like a scalded...another whistle!...Penalty. Back they went, slogging through that ankle-deep mud, marching off against my team again. Nobody could tell just how much yardage we had to make up, after all that whistle-blowing, but I estimated it to be about a quarter-of-a-mile.

They all hunkered down in their stances, the ball was snapped, and it looked like a Chinese-fire-drill down there for a while; then that slick, muddy football shot up in the air like you'd squeezed a watermelon seed! Everybody on the field was pushing and shoving, and I saw my li'l brother trying to get in there, but the ball came down right in somebody's arms, and nobody could tell which team he represented.....until he took off running in the right direction. I jumped up and hollered and "goodged" my girl-friend again.

Sure as shootin', yonder come that little short dude from out of nowhere, and side-swiped my team's guy, knocked the ball loose, grabbed it up, and headed the other direction. It looked to me like he was ridin' a motor scooter, he was movin' so fast.

Several of my team had risen from the mud after the play started, but that little guy went through all of 'em, without anybody laying a hand on him. It looked like he had a clear shot at the goal line. But, wait! Yonder was li'l brother! On his "all-fours" in a mud puddle, yes; but he was between the ball-carrier and the goal line. Li'l bruh got up, slipped down, got up again, and slipped to one knee; by that time, the speedy little guy with the ball was almost past him.

Right about there is when the romance ended, I reckon.

Unable to get his feet under him, kneeling there in the mud, my little brother just stuck his arm straight out from his shoulder as the ball-carrier went by, and "clotheslined" that little dude! I mean, it looked like the boy made three trips around my brother's arm, hangin' on by his Adams apple.

Then, my girl friend's little brother fell off of my little brother's arm, face down into about a foot of mud...plumb out of it. I was all excited about the fine play my brother'd made, and kept trying to "goodge" the girl with my elbow; but when I looked around..... she was gone.