I have now asked my entire immediate family what they would like for Christmas. The results were about as I expected. My brother Alex said, “Like… stuff,” which was actually the most helpful and specific answer of them all. My mom said, “Nothing,” and my dad didn’t reply to my text.
FINE. Have it your way. You’re all getting Harry Potter wands according to your distinct personality traits. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. ‘Tis the season.
Friday night was my brother Alex’s last high school football game, ever. It had its ups and downs—Alex was almost the hero with his tie-breaking extra point—but ultimately the other team pulled ahead, and it was a sad, anticlimactic affair. Last year’s seniors went out in a blaze of glory, emerging victorious in the playoffs from double overtime as people in the stands literally cried from joy. I guess not every last game can be a cliched sports movie, but damn. It was sad.
I had to walk onto the field with Alex in front of everybody before the game started, because they showcase all the senior varsity players and their families. I didn’t trip, and personally I think we should all just be thankful for that.
But you know what? He moved on. He went straight to his room when he got home that night, and I coaxed him out with fresh-baked cookies and we all talked about the game. And the next day, he went to visit a college that wants him to play for them. High school football’s over, and I’m sad, because I may have just been the sister who comes in from out of town and yells really loudly in the stands, but it was a very fun, very intense, very emotionally charged four years of my life. I made posters, dammit. But he’s good enough to play in college, and I have to believe he’ll have the chance.
My Friday night was shaping up to be quite lovely. It was drizzling outside, and I was staying in. I had my pajamas on. I was planning on doing some online shopping, re-reading Harry Potter, and listening to my little brother Alex’s football game on the radio, as I wasn’t able to be there in person. My roommate had made scones. It was practically ideal. And then… well, then I got a text.
Mom: We left The Hat in the trunk of your car
Mom: You need to wear it tonight
Mom: You know what’s at stake. You must wear the hat.
Me: Oh, God.
The Hat is a very special hat that was knitted by one of the parents on my brother’s team back in 2008. It must be worn at every game by a football parent or otherwise affiliated person. When The Hat is not worn, we lose. Always. And the one time, the ONE TIME The Hat just HAD TO BE tragically misplaced (in the trunk of my car) was the one game that would make or break our season. If we didn’t win, we would be out of the playoffs. We were hanging on by a thread as it was. And the magical Hat was some 300 miles away, in my possession.
So I had to wear The Hat.
I sent a picture to Tara and explained the situation.
Tara: You were born to wear that hat.
Me: That look in my eyes is a cry for help.
Tara: You look like you’re being held hostage and your captors are forcing you to wear it.
At one point, my mother Facetimed me to make sure I was wearing the hat. Then she made me prove it to everyone in the immediate vicinity, so I waved awkwardly to all the people in the bleachers, and they cheered at me like I was the chosen one. BUT THE HAT WORKED. We won the game, and our playoff dreams are still alive, and I’ll be returning The Hat to its rightful place soon enough.
SORRY. SO SORRY. I let things get away from me. Actually, that feels inaccurate. I just laughed out loud when I typed that, because my phrasing makes it sound like, well, yeah, things got away from me, but it’s under control now. It’s not, though. I’m drowning in essays. I’ve decided that if I finish this essay today, I’m going to let myself watch Tangled and eat mini M&Ms. I work with a pretty strict reward system.
I promised a follow-up to that whole Nerf gun war my brother was in, so here it is. I went home that weekend, so I got the whole story as events transpired. Shit starting getting real one night when there was a shootout in our front yard. With time running out and people getting killed left and right, Alex and his remaining teammates cornered the girls’ team in the Buffalo Wild Wings parking lot. They were literally using their cars to block the girls in. Finally they escaped, and Alex’s team followed them to the high school parking lot, which is, as you’ll remember, neutral territory, so the girls decided to camp out. In the parking lot. All night. (Did I mention what serious business this whole thing was?) Sadly, their determination won out, and Alex’s team was eliminated from the competition. Personally I feel that if you’re willing to spend the night in the high school parking lot with nothing but your car and five Nerf guns, you deserve the win. But I digress.
I was on the phone with my mom last night when she said, “Wh—hang on.” Ten minutes later, she came back and said, “Oh my God. Your dad just caught two girls hiding in our garage. They’d been there for an hour while we were eating dinner!”
It really says something that my first response was “Oh, God,” and not “There were… people… in our… garage?! What?” But the thing is, my brother Alex is playing Assassin. It’s a school-wide Nerf gun tournament, and those girls were lying in wait for Alex to come home. One of his teammates has already been killed, so Alex was actually hiding in a bush somewhere over at one of their houses to assassinate them. I’m told it was all very comical. There are very strict rules about this whole thing—you can’t shoot somebody on school property or at a school event (i.e., football games, or else Alex’s entire team would be royally screwed as people fired their Nerf guns on the field), and you can’t go inside somebody’s house unless invited by the parents.
“Dad did what?” I practically shrieked.
“He invited them in.”
“You realize that’s the exact opposite of what you’re supposed to do,” I said.
“Well, yes, but they’d been hiding in the garage for an hour! It was cold out!”
“Mom,” I said, exasperated, “you can’t invite them in! It’s like vampires! Once you invite them in, everything’s fair game and all hell breaks loose!”
I’ll let you know how this story develops. If Alex’s team doesn’t take out one of the girls by the end of the week, they’ll be eliminated. THE STAKES ARE HIGH.
Home for the weekend to see my brother’s football game! I have a very loud, aggressive, guttural, borderline manly shout that I reserve specifically for football games. And usually, it’s things like “DEFENSE!” and “FACE MASK!” and “COME OOOONNNNN!” But today I turned to Allison and said, “I’m going to shout more positively today.” So there I was, in the middle of the stands, waving a noisemaker and screaming things like “IN IT TO WIN IT!” and “LET’S MAKE SOME MAGIC HAPPEN!” and “THIS IS WHAT DREAMS ARE MADE OF!”
It didn’t help, we lost. But I’ll be damned if my shouting wasn’t the most inspirational shouting in the entire stadium.
Um… hi. *peers out nervously* I know. It’s been a while. Long time, no see. How’ve you been? You all look GREAT. Yes, I’m buttering you up with compliments. What’s wrong with that?
I’m back at school, living in an apartment with a friend of mine. We haven’t taken the trash out since we got here, and I have a bunch of canned food but no can opener, so basically we’re thriving. I was taking a French History course, which I was really excited about, but I had to drop it because taking five English-heavy courses on top of having a job and commuting eight hours every weekend is stupid.
The commuting is because it’s my little brother’s last year playing high school football, and it might sound trivial, but I’ve been trucking it around all over the state of Michigan with that team for the past three years. I’ve driven five hours nonstop just to meet the fan bus in a city I’ve never been to. I’ve bought hot cocoa just to warm up my hands while tailgating in snowy parking lots. I once went to a game where it was 80 degrees one minute, and downpouring the next. And I’ve loved every minute of it. They have a place in my heart. I’m going to miss this.
So, I think that’s everything I’ve been up to. I’m on season four of The Vampire Diaries. I started watching Game of Thrones. Two days ago, Darren Criss performed at a pep rally for the Michigan/Notre Dame football game. He was HERE. IN THIS CITY. Mere MONTHS after I was unable to go to his concert, he comes to ME. And I DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT IT. WHY DID NO ONE TELL ME? My mom’s response to this was, “You should get out more.” Well, I would if I thought there was a chance I might just happen upon Darren Criss singing an impromptu rendition of the Michigan fight song, but how often does that happen?