Friday, June 09, 2006

I would like to blame my early rising on the baby birds, but I plain just woke up a little before 7 a.m. What a bite! I could have slept in as long as I wanted to, but no such luck.

So I finished the last couple of short stories in Alden R Carter's Love, Football, and Other Contact Sports. I certainly see why Booklist starred this one - what a delightful group of high school characters. These guys (and their girlfriends) are not your stereotypical football players by any means of the word. Carter is at his Midwest humorous best, starting out with a section called "A Girl's Guide to Football Players by the female editorial staff of the Purple Cow Literary Magazine, Milking Creativity in Psychedelic Color". I knew that I could wallow in Wisconsinism while I read about shopping in Pranges, Menards, and Fleet Farm! I also know that Carter lives in Marshfield, the major town south of where I lived, Medford. Marshfield is home of the famous (at least in the Midwest) Marshfield Clinic. Since Medford only had a KMart, a trip to the small mall in Marshfield was a bit deal for us. And when Mary and I were feeling adventurous we would drive to Wausau to the "big mall"! :-) Many of Carter's books feel like home to me. My favorite is still Up Country, about the street smart city kid who is sent to live with relatives in Northern Wisconsin. His streets smarts aren't doing him much good as the country kids teach him a few new things. :-) Carter's Between and Rock and a Hard Place should be in every HS and MS collection as it addresses the issue of diabetes and how two cousins deal with it while stranded in a remote area. Besides, this is one heck of an exciting survival story.

Anyway, reading about the interaction between this group of teammates and their friends in Love, Football, and Other Contact Sports brings to light the variety of personalities that make up a football team. You do have the plain jerks, like Catman, who ignores the coach's order not to run plays on the side of the field that Steve, who plays for the opposing team, is playing on. Everyone in town knows and loves Steve, who has Down syndrome. This is Steve's Senior year and his first time out on the field and he is jumping up and down with excitement. Thinking everyone else has the same killer/winning attitude he does, Catman throws the ball to Kenny who "misses" it instead of steamrolling over Steve. Steve catches the ball and is the hero. Was it worth losing the game to see his joy? Everyone but Catman seems to think so.

And then we have Rollin Acres, the fullback who falls in love with Sandy Dunes (yes, those really are their names), and wants to make sure she wins her next cross country race. Then maybe she will start paying some attention to him for a change! She talks about nothing but the cross country meet and how she wants nothing more than to beat Kendra, who she acts like she despises. So Rollin gets the dumb idea to haul a deer carcass onto the track as Sandy told him that Kendra was so prissy she wouldn't run through a mud puddle. The time it would take for her to figure out how to get around a huge bloated deer in the middle of the track would give Sandy the seconds she needed to win the race. Well, a group of elderly bird watchers interfere with Rollin and Kenny's attempt to get the deer through the woods to the track. Of course, Kendra wins the race, but Rollin can't figure out why Sandy and Kendra are hugging each other and happy as can be. You see, now they are a team and with them pushing each other, they both improved their time. We all know a girl is allowed to change her mind, but Rollin is still shaking his head over this one!

Most of the stories are humorous, but all of them make you think as these are characters with heart and their own unique personalities, aside from the position they play on the football field. Give this to anyone who has the mind set that all football players are like Catman, jerks. And, to the guys, football lovers or not, who don't read by choice. They won't be able to resist reading just one more story. These are like Lay's potato chips - you can't read just one! :-)

All for today.