Thursday, November 12, 2009

Brookside Olympics

A pair of ingredients contribute to the eventual dish that is this post. One, the weather in Athens is ideal for touch football--sunny and a bit cooler than cool, with a mild breeze to make a toss exciting, and a 90% chance of pretty girls around to watch my one-handed snags. Two, I just ate a substantial steak & cheese grinder--beefy, sauced, excessive of bread.

I'm in the mood, then, to romp around in some leaves, but in the physical shape merely to drool on myself. I call this emotion: 4:30pm.

4:30 in the deep fall used to be the time to rush outside, after Duck Tales, for a last game-a-catch; later, 4:30 was when middle school adjourned, after sports. I'd still be ready to let off some steam before supper. This time of day was exciting and breath-catching. The light was about to go, the chill was about to chill, and I still wanted to throw another touchdown, or eight.

I used to play mostly with my older brother who, by the time I was coordinated enough to run a route, was already mostly a man. He's five-and-change years older, and there was never really a time I could challenge him or even be an appropriate teammate.

I still loved the competition, though. And it's on a day like this that I, though steak drunk, think about the expansive, the innovative (pronounced in the British fashion, please) slate of games we used to play.

We dubbed this multi-month competition The Brookside Olympics--named after our street. The competitors were: Stephen, my brother; his friends Chris and Ryan; me; and my friend Cheese, another ten-year old.

Cheese was an essential addition. With only three fifteen-year olds and a ten-year old, there's no way to make teams. Add another ten-year old, Cheese, and you've got a classic 3-on-2. Two ten-year olds equal a fifteen-year old and the other fifteen-year olds balance each other. Everyone knows this.

Our team games were mostly typical: football, street hockey, an occasional swimming relay in summer. But before those, we had to wade through the individual events--all 106.

These were divided into 9 categories: board games, shooting sports, racket sports, throwing sports, water sports, track and field, video games (dexterity), video games (strategy), and miscellaneous.

Our board games were: chess, checkers, Axis and Allies (a World War II role-playing game that took most of a week).

For shooting sports, we had, among others: horse, a slam dunk contest, and different variations of air hockey (accuracy and one-on-one).

Tennis (grass, road, and clay) headlined racket sports month, but we invented some other games, too, including Rally Ball and Double-Bounce. Our net was a road-crack.

Throwing-sports and water sports often mixed, troublingly: there was pool football, water whiffle, and a game in which we had to catch a Frisbee while doing a cannonball and then hold our breath under water as long as possible. The IBOC (International Brookside Olympics Committee--our parents) banned some of these games after a writer, who will remain nameless, suffered torsion of the testicles during a particularly violent round of Jump 'n Catch. He won the silver.

Moving on.

Track and Field gave us the closest event in Brookside Olympics history. In the Dash--from stump to Hydrangea--Ryan and Chris both clocked in at 8.73 seconds, twice. I did a little investigative journalism on this one earlier today.

"There was a mind-blowing tie to two decimal points, if I remember correctly," my brother told me, from work. I wonder, though, if the stop watch was defective. Either way, both men-children were awarded gold medals.

After nightfall, and sometimes before, the festivities moved to my families' basement for the team Tetris competition, broadcast live by Tim Daggett and Elfie Schlegel.

Stephen usually won.

Somehow, we even gave out prizes for most populated SimCity and getting-furthest on Metroid. Cheese, with his inhumanly fast thumbs and willingness to hyperventilate in order to intimidate his adversaries, bested us all in a video game called, coincidentally, Olympic Gold Medal Challenge. I won bronze.

My brother recorded all the results on a pad of graph paper that's now a family heirloom.

I also medalled in place-kicking, tagging-up, pickle, and, perhaps my favorite game to play, cellar ball (miscellaneous).

In that game, one player bounces a Nerf football off the air hockey table and the second player has to catch it. The first runs around the wall dividing the two parts of the cellar, and the second tries to throw the Nerf football through a hole in the wall so that the first player catches it while jumping on the couch. A third player tries to defend against this with pillows and determination.

I've created a diagram.

And that's what I did today at 4:30.

Tomorrow, as the sun sets and the sluggishness rises, I'm going to head over to my friend Joe's instead and ask if he wants to ride bikes. We'll time the race. He'll win. That'll seem right.


Megan said...

Made up games are in fact the best. Marc and I had one that involved an inflated balloon (human air not helium) in our family room. It was a team competition (against nobody but defeat itself) wherein we would have to keep the balloon in the air while alternating who would hit it to keep it aloft. The challenge was that there was a specified order for which body parts could be used to knock the balloon back up in the air. Extremely challenging.

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