The locker rooms were dark and musky.
They smelled of crotch-sweat and mold.
The benches had a hundred years of paint on them.
I suited up early for every game.
I pulled on my jock-strap, and inserted the tin cup...
which hopefully would protect...
I pulled on sweatshirts or jerseys.
I laced up my high-top spikes.
I then found my way to a stall.
I stuck my fingers down my throat...
and puked my guts out.
I thought, "Better here, than out on the field".
Never play a game with puke on your facemask or jersey.
Experience is a great teacher.
We taped our hands, ankles, and wrists.
We went through personal rituals and prayers.
We pounded on each others shoulder pads, and re-tightened them.
It was getting close to kick-off time.
The whole scene was getting more surreal.
Some of us withdrew into a Zen-like state.
These guys sat alone...It was wierd.
Some of these quiet-type guys were the meanest on the field.
These men metholdically visualized the beatings they hoped to inflict,
on opposing players.
Soon our nervousness whipped us into a frenzy.
Our team was chanting. Together, we jumped up an down.
Our minds were in a primitive place.
We were ready to uncoil and strike like venemous snakes.
The doors banged open and we ran onto the field.
The stadium was pulsating with cheers.
We felt like warriors.
It was awesome!
We were gladiators in ancient Rome!
This is universal.
This is fact.
Or is it myth?...No matter.
This is my duty...
For I was chosen.
*** from "Chicago Stories and Other Thoughts from a Working Class Guy"...available on Amazon.com