Ryne Sanberg and Aurelli was Jody Davis (she thought he was so cute!).
Our game was shortly interrupted by Andy (my next door neighbor) and Tim who had just moved down the block. They were both a few years younger then me and had become fast friends. Currently they were united in their attempts to antagonize me.
They sauntered to the other end of Andy's front yard and started to throw a foot ball back and fourth. Aurelli glanced at me with a sense fof foreboding....ignore them...you know they are looking for trouble.
Andy and Tim quickly huddled for a moment and then made their way towards us. Hey...you want to join our football game. I looked up quizzically. My heart and mind paused and then started to wage a silent war. Aurelli shook her head...but it was to late. I put my arms out and Andy tossed me the football. Go long.
Tim ran off towards the other end of the lawn. I took a few steps back and launched the perfect spiral 20 yards down field. Tim put his arms up and the football hit its target square in the chest on the numbers. It bounced off and knocked him over stumbling to the ground.
Tim jumped up and looked at Andy. They both ran towards me. Andy was the first to reach me...Hey what do you think you are doing hitting him in the chest that way? Tim was close behind. Aurelli, who knew better then to leave us alone, stepped forward as Tim lunged toward me. She intercepted him but couldn't stop Andy from joining the fray.
As we rolled around on the ground Andy's father strode out the front door and grabbed his son under the arms and heaved up on his chest. I was free. Then he manhandled Andy and I and beckoned Tim. Come on...were going to your house to discuss this with your father.
My heart sunk and I was overcome with fear. Andy's father was a good man...I knew that. Tim's father was something different. Angry, belligerent, he never had kind words for me.
Moments later we were standing at Tim's house. Andy's Father knocked and a large sweaty man opened the door. He was over 6 feet, obese, his face a ruddy complexion and trickle of sweat omnipresent on his brow as if he had sprung a leak and was continously dripping out the contents of his brain.
He looked down at me and his eyes bulged. Oh no you don't...you're not bringin that kid inside my house...I hate that fuckin kid!
Andy's father took a step back as the door slammed. He was visibly shaken...shocked. He walked Andy and I back to his house and sat us down. Calmly he explained that we needed to stop fighting. That we were neighbors and friends. That life was to short to be angry at eachother. And that Tim's father was wrong and shouldn't have reacted that way.
Andy and I never fought again. In some strange way we felt bonded by such an odd experience. We were kids. It was simple. Tim's father's reaction was enough to make us think that we were to young to understand this adulthood thing. Better to be kids...play football...have fun...let the grown ups figure out the complicated stuff.
But I will never forget the vulgarity. The pure hatrid in those bulging eyes. It's probably been the only time in my life that I have experienced such venom directed solely at me.
Long after the memory of the houses, the faces, or the neighborhood fades away.... the hatred...the hatred is what I will remember.