Daily Archives: January 3, 2012

Who You Getting For An Athletic Supporter?

This is where it happened. August 1965. The gym door is on the side of the building closest to the truck.

I would argue that men’s most embarrassing moments in life always revolve around women.  In fact, I’m rather sure of it.  I’m going to offer you a couple of examples to substantiate my claims.

I’ll start with what I consider to be my most embarrassing moment, although, technically, it lasted more than a moment.  It was seventh-grade, August 1965, probably about 5:12 in the afternoon.  I had a major crush on a cute, short-haired, blonde named Patty.  I’ll spare her the full disclosure, but I rarely change names to protect the “innocent.”  It happened shortly after football practice, and the timing of the event couldn’t have been planned even had the perpetrators tried.

Like I said, I had the majorist of crushes on her and she was a cheerleader for the football team.  I had never played football, but decided one way I might “impress” this girl was to become a star football player.  So when the sign up sheets went around at the beginning of the school year, I promptly signed up.  My lack of knowledge of the sport, for example, led me to believe that the position of tackle was the only one responsible for the tackling on a team.  So, in preparation for my assured stardom on the gridiron, I went to the library and checked out some books on “How To Play Football.”  I weighed about 80 pounds and there wasn’t a muscle residing on my body.  I’d say I could run really fast, but that wasn’t true either.  In short, I had none of the physical characteristics of a junior high football player.

On the first day of practice, one of the guys came up to me and asked me, or so I thought, whom I was getting for an athletic supporter.  I didn’t know you needed someone to add monetary support to your sports effort aside from your parents, so I told him I wasn’t sure.  He said he was going to “Ritz Sporting Goods.”  That sounded odd to me, but I figured I’d give the “Ritz” a try myself.  What I found out at the “Ritz,” without making a complete fool out of myself, was that players were responsible for getting their own socks, mouthguards and athletic supporters.  All available at “Ritz Sporting Goods,” of course.  By phrasing my original query by saying, “I’m looking for an athletic supporter,” and the followup to that being “Are you looking for a cup?” the light bulb illuminated.

Patty and the rest of the girls on the cheerleading squad knew me pretty well after the first two weeks of my football experience, but it wasn’t because of a spectacular touchdown run.  Although the event, at least in my mind, was pretty spectacular.

Not knowing much about how to play the sport of football, understandably, I didn’t know much about any “initiation rites” of first year players either.

The Holy Name Eagles had decided to change their name to the Holy Name Vikings at the start of the season, and they had purchased new red and white uniforms to replace the hundred-year-old green and white uniforms of the old Eagles.  Don’t know why, exactly, but it might have been at the initiative of our new coach, the only non-nun and male on the teaching staff at the only Catholic school in Sheridan, Wyoming.  It was more likely because they got a deal on the red and white uniforms, and the name “Eagles” didn’t work with the new colors.  I don’t know who coached sports at Holy Name before Mr. Eckert was hired in 1965, but I’m sure the nuns didn’t enter the boys’ locker room during showers.

The towel snapping was particularly rampant on this particular evening, and I was trying desperately to manuever safely from the shower to my locker without getting tagged.  Almost there, a towel snapped off my left cheek and I screamed in pain.  A red welt developed quickly.  I noticed a scuffle going on towards the entrance stairs of the locker room but didn’t pay much attention at the time, rubbing the still stinging butt cheek.

The locker rooms were located under the bleachers in the gym, the girls on one side, the boys on the other.  An outside exit door was located  at the end of both hallways that were locked and could only be opened from the inside.  In other words you could get out, but once the door closed, you were outside on the side of the gym, and couldn’t get back in.

Within a few seconds of reaching my locker one of the eighth-grade players scooped me up from behind, under my arms, and two others each grabbed a leg.  I struggled in vain.  The three carried me up the entrance stairs, and down the short hallway to the outside door.  One of the players pushed the door’s lock bar with his foot and kicked it open.  I was carried out the open door, to the bottom of the landing, and the three boys ran back in and immediately pulled it shut.  There I stood, yanking desperately on the door, begging them to let me back in, completely, totally, nekked.

As I alternated between yanking on the door handle and covering my exposed private parts, the door at the other end of the gym, the one at the end of the hallway by the girls locker, opened and out stepped five of the Holy Name Viking cheerleaders.  Patty, of course, was one of them.  They didn’t see me at first, even though I was probably reflecting sunlight, not unlike a mirror, in my all together.  I bolted for the door again and screamed for them to let me in.  “People are coming, ” I screamed.  “Please LET ME IN!”   I could still see one of the guys standing by the door through the glass and wire windows on each one. 

I still have nightmares about that incident.  I wake up in a cold sweats.  Cheerleaders are standing around me in a circle laughing, and pointing, and giggling.  In reality I didn’t let the circle happen.  I took off running in the direction of the front of the building, away from the Viking cheerleaders, my hands cupped in front of me, trying to get to the doors in the front that I knew where open and back to the safety of the locker room.  Hopefully without being seen by anyone else.  As I took off, I heard a voice behind me, “Wait.  Come back.”  The boys had opened the door.  It was too late.  I kept running.

As I rounded the corner of the building, I ran smack into Sister Marie Agnes.  Sister had come around the building to see what all the ruckus was about.  Sister Marie Agnes was the head nun.  The ruler.  The Mother Superior.  The Principal.  The chief investigator of all kid crime.  The one responsible for the handing out of punishment.

“Young MAN!”  She said it in a state of semi-shock, I think, and she kind of coughed it out.  “You…come with me.”  She grabbed me under the arm and walked around the corner toward the side door, right past the cheerleaders who were now in some feigned attempt at shock and dismay, the giggles choking in their throats.   I was half hanging, half walking, only able to cover up with one hand.  Sister didn’t expect them to be there, clearly, but she kept on dragging me towards the door.  Standing there, watching the girls hurry around the building, she reached for her keys hanging on her belt next to the large rosary and opened it.  The three attackers were nowhere to be seen.  She roughly shoved me in.

“You get dressed,” she said.  “I’ll wait for you here.”

(Will he rat them out?  Find out tomorrow)



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