Ah, Fall. The days are warm, the nights are cool and everyone in the family is back to a normal schedule (that means I’m not the only who isn’t on vacation). I really do love this time of year, when you can go outside in the middle of the day and do stuff and not be sweating profusely. The sky is a deep blue color and the leaves are starting to turn colors, too. You go out at night and someone in the neighborhood is burning some wood. I just love that smell. Somewhere from the back of my mind, happy thoughts and memories come forth. And then there’s football.
Yes, football season is in full swing, already four games into the season. There is just something relaxing about watching a game or two on Sunday afternoon, hanging out with family and friends, and eating some good food. I’d love for the Patriots to win all their games, but does it really matter in the grand scheme of things? If I’m watching the game all by myself and my team wins, it’s not as much fun as watching the game when my team loses if I’m with a bunch of people. Unless I have something important to do, I’m watching at least one game every Sunday.
I didn’t play organized football as a kid. We had plenty of games, either playing two-hand touch in the street, or playing tackle football in our back yard or in the field at the cemetery. We also played another kind of football. There was no running, no passing and no tackling. We didn’t even go outside to play it. No, this kind of football was played indoors, on a table or a desk, with paper. That’s right, paper. You took a piece of paper and folded it into a small triangle and pushed the “football” toward the other guy’s end of the table. If it hung over the end without falling off, you had a touchdown. You kicked extra points by having the other guy lean on his elbows and make a “U” shape with his two hands, thumbs touching and pointer fingers extended up for goal posts. You had to kick it through the uprights for it to be good.
I guess the real name of the game is paper football, but we just called it table football. In elementary school, we played at recess on a table at the back of the room when we couldn’t go outside due to bad weather. When the bell rang for the end of recess the game was over. One year we decided to make the football out of construction paper instead of regular white-lined paper. That little paper football left a mark! In middle school, we played at lunch on a table in the corner of the cafeteria. If too many people (girls) complained about getting hit in the back of the head by a football, that was the end of that game, so we tried to get a table in the corner away from everybody else. We even played a little in high school at lunch or in study hall. Study hall was a time when you didn’t have a class scheduled and you were supposed to, well, study. However, not many people studied in study hall. We felt like we were getting a little too old for paper football, so it kind of died out after freshman year.
We used to play at home, too. We had a perfect sized coffee table in the living room that was just made for paper football. It was smooth wood on top, no ridges, no tiles, no nothing, just wood. I think one of my brothers might have made it in woodshop in school. I liked playing against my older brothers because size didn’t matter, I could actually beat them in spite of how much smaller I was. Of course, most of the time they beat me anyway, but it was still fun to play. It was awesome to drill them in the face with that little paper football when kicking extra points. I was pretty accurate with those. We’d play, laugh, have fun and usually end up fighting about something. Then we’d pull ourselves together and finish the game before Mom shut the whole thing down. No, it was better to overlook our differences of opinion on whether it was a touchdown or not than to have to do a couch faceoff, even if it only lasted a few minutes. It killed the flow of the game.
We had a lot of fun playing paper football when we were kids. It was quick, easy, there weren’t a lot of rules, and no one got hurt. You didn’t need to have a deep blue sky and warm sun to play, but there’s just something about a crisp, sunny, Fall afternoon in New England that just begs you to go outside and enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of the season.