Things in high school always seemed to be so much bigger, more dramatic. One night in particular involved a high school football game, a couple beers in a buddy’s basement, and a whole lot of self-recrimination.
Friday night lights
Grade 12 was the first time I went to a high school football game, and I never missed one after that. Back then, the entire league played their games under the lights at the Sportsplex field in Lethbridge. That meant the Kate Andrews High School Spartans of Coaldale played every Friday night for more than a month.
I started going to games for a few reasons. Obviously, I wanted to cheer on the Spartans, and players I knew, like my best friend Chris Vining, and the other guys I grew up with.
The bigger reason though, was that I liked one of the cheerleaders. I jumped at any chance to see her, get her attention, and maybe even impress her.
I would get my chance soon enough.
Kate Andrews was playing the mighty Cougars of Catholic Central. The Spartans really weren’t very good. They didn’t win a game all year, and really didn’t even score that much.
After the Cougars scored, the girls trotted out to lead us all in a cheer. It was one of the “We’ll get them next time” variety. All I remember is it starting with, “Awwww shucks…”
I saw my chance.
It wasn’t long before Catholic Central scored again. Out came the cheerleaders.
“Awwww shucks,” they started.
This time, just as they said “shucks” I yelled out “Shit!” I thought it was funny.
The crowd fell silent. My favourite cheerleader glared in my direction.
I was crushed.
Drowning my sorrows
It was about that time I started spending nights in town at my buddy Dave’s house. I started hanging out with him the second half of Grade 11. He lived in a house that was pretty small, too small to have friends over.
However, his parents moved into a new, bigger place with a fully developed basement. He was anxious to have friends over, and always invited us to stay.
That night, me, Dave, and his little brother Doug who was in Grade 10, cruised around Lethbridge after the game, got something to eat, then headed back to Coaldale and his place. I’d arranged with my parents to spend the night. They’d pick me up in the morning on their way to Lethbridge, because we went shopping in Lethbridge every Saturday morning.
I was obsessing on what happened at the football game.
As I soon discovered, Dave would tend to turn in early. Doug and I would hang out, shoot the breeze for hours, and talk about girls.
He also liked to dip into his dad’s beer. I had never really drank with friends to that point. This night though, I was really down, so every time Doug offered, which was only like twice, I accepted.
It seemed like we re-hashed everything for hours. In my teen angst-addled mind, I had blown it with the girl I liked. Doug, dutiful friend he was, just sat there and listened.
Eventually we turned in.
It was the next morning that I discovered how alcohol could be a depressant. I had not had near enough beers to get drunk, but it had disturbed my sleep. The lack of sleep put me in a funk the whole next day.
My folks picked me up on the way to Lethbridge, and I ruminated on everything all over again.
|"Someday" was on the 1986 debut album |
"The Thin Red Line" of Canadian band Glass Tiger.
My mom and I often went for coffee at Eaton’s, and we did that morning. Instead of talking, I had this brainwave for a song and a play I was writing at the time. I scribbled ideas furiously on a paper napkin. I still have that napkin, and those ideas will likely appear somewhere on this blog. While I scribbled, “Someday” by Glass Tiger played on the sound system. I would hear that same song an inordinate number of times that day, so it was burned into my memory. It also kind of signified the mood I was in.
Mom never asked if anything was wrong, and I never sought her advice.
Back then, we never talked to our parents about stuff like that.
When I went to school on Monday, the girl of my dreams had no idea what I was fretting about – at all. Another friend named Dave had even asked her point blank.
Such is the life of the self-absorbed teen – whether it’s 1986 or 2015.
It’s always amazing how music can evoke memories. To this day, when I hear “Someday”, I think of a high school football game, a goofy cheer, and a teenage boy trying too hard to impress girl who had no idea how he felt about her.
Life was like a John Hughes movie.