A Friday Night Lights Return

7 miles. 35 minutes and the last 2 of those 7 miles went relatively quickly. A newly remembered two years later stress filled start to a Friday Night Lights gig up the Albany with the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge being an even worse back upped construction bastard than usual to start the trip now. Fridays in my radio production job can be headache enough already without adding to it the need to leave two hours early to hit the road and try to get to whatever Albany area High School is this week’s game of choice. Newburgh-Beacon Bridge? You ain’t helpin’.

The great Pyramids were probably built in a more timely fashion than this long, tortured attempt to fix a few lanes of traffic going back and forth across a river.

(holding a clipboard)

“How’s it coming Lenny?”

“Couple of big blocks are stuck sitting in river transit Bill, and a couple of others have been lost “

“Lost?”

“Bob”

“Bob?! Freakin’ Bob! Why is he a captain of these transports again?”

“His Dad?”

“Oh right, nepotism, and can’t go questioning the ol’ Pharoah there now can we, well, not without losing our heads right? Does his almighty have any kind of timetable on this, when more blocks might arrive?”

“No, but the river will provide”

“No, Lenny, apparently not always. Monster sized rocks sink Lenny, especially if Bob is piloting though I am told by the priests to chin up, that we will be finished with this in waaaay better time than some Newburgh-Beacon Bridge fix at a distant place in a distant future.”

“What??”

“Don’t ask”

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High School Football is back for the broadcast crew at Spectrum Sports and after that stressy 35 minutes 7 miles thing to start my trip I finally hit the Thruway. And, besides the bridge backup, there were also school busses flashing lights and brandishing stop signs, firetrucks giving pause as firetrucks will, bicyclists, lost semi’s, aliens with tractor beams grabbing at BB’s ass, slow oblivious pedestrians in crosswalks, like some sort of piling on comedy plus a line of traffic in front of me all suddenly needing to make left hand turns against even more traffic coming the other direction for some unknown reason at 3:30 in the afternoon.

“Hey ya’ll, Frankenberry’s hittin’ the road and he’s already stressed out for time … whatchya gonna do?”

“On it!! We’ll call friends!!”

Cue canned laughter.

Man, what a relief though, a relief like shot out a relief cannon at BB and I eventually finding our way out of the slow down.  

I’d actually forgotten how much I love that long wide right curve after the bridge and the Newburgh Thruway tolls to drive under the “North – Albany” sign on these Fridays, always gladly dismissing right then and there anything at work that I may have left behind and undone in my haste, anything I may have missed, the worry of possibly being yelled at a thing for Monday. Though it can make for a pretty long day when I finally do make it back home I have always enjoyed these Friday Night Lights nights, once I get past the early time scrunch stress, to get to a sideline’s excuse to tell the world to piss off for a little football while.

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Now in past seasons my Football Fridays always finished with the immediate turn around after game’s end and the breakdown of equipment and the truck load up and the search then for the closest McDonald’s on the way to the Thruway for a large fry and a larger caffeinated sugar me up awake Coke. Work a day a little short at the station, hop in BB for what usually approaches a two hour ride (two and half frustrating hours this time around), work a game and turn right around looking for the Moon’s assist to my headlights on my two hour way back, even hoping for an unmet new friend’s own headlights to keep pace with me and have my back for a few miles till I reach the end day promise of the Poughkeepsie/New Paltz exit.

But I had my sister’s place this first game back night. Mind you, it’s always been there in Albany, I’ve just been too much of an idiot to think about it more often in the past. But Mom is there now, with Beck being her caretaker these days in her diminished and I do love seeing her and Beck and the nephews and the cats and a happy Razzy lump of dog. The thought of the offer of the comfiest of couches downstairs to cut the long day a little short for the moment? Most appealing now, especially as I’ve added a couple of years to the human wheels and breath since the last games.

///////////////////////////////////////////

Burnt Hills, a seeming one legged football team on this night, kept shooting themselves in their only foot  which made for a lot of falling down and coming up short and Shaker’s sideline, just behind me and following my parabolic mic steps, gleefully reminded them of such with whoops and hollers at every unbalanced misstep as well as screams thrown past the back of my head of “Hold ’em D!!”, “Let’s get ‘em O!!” or “C’Mon’ teammate’s number!!!” but not a number of a guy who may be 42 but a 4 -2, not a 17 but a 1 -7 and the rest of the litany of earnest football sideline chatter and entreaties just with some volume, with some serious volume, especially from that one kid, an injured one, going up and down the sidelines run like some caged Lion who couldn’t join in with the rest of his Lion pals, or Blue Bison pals in this case, one who was surely going to experience some lack of voice issues on Saturday morning or, at the least, just wake up sounding as if he had picked up a 2 pack a day habit overnight after his game long clichéd though excitedly genuine shrieks behind me every step of my way. Apologies to you, my ears.

I was reminded after two years of the almost comical obviousness of sideline yelling banter from coaches and players alike. From “eye on the ball” as if maybe something shiny might distract from the very nature of what your game asks for, the in unison play call shouts as they happen of “run!” or “pass!” like those on the field hadn’t already figured that out for themselves and needed the assist, punts that seemed to call for everyone to yell “Ball!” as it was in flight. I mean, yeah, it’s theoretically possible that there may have been some dozing for a moment so thus the reminder of the ball off a punter’s foot being in the air a necessary thing but still. Or, on another punt play, a coach calling out what always precedes “Ball!!” on a punt play, “Watch the fake!!” but in this case with the opposing team’s punter backed up to only a few yards away from the back of his own endzone on a fourth and forever down by 3 touchdowns. Yes coach, “Watch the fake!!” here. These nights, it seems, can even involve a little rote football comedy.

///////////////////////////////////////////

This was Shaker’s night. They kicked off their season in grand fashion with some full blown highlight reel type stuff, passes to open sure hands down the right or perfectly blocked runs up the middle that breathlessly ran, and ran, and ran to the raucous din of the big bannered Blue Bison student section doing what they do supporting them with some coordinated noise or just noisy noise and joy.

I was so glad to be back at this (and to arrive to the free pizza for pre-game dinner and post-game leftovers for the weekend or, if they were big ass pizzas, as they sometimes are, leftover slices frozen in zip locks for lunches during the week).

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Hi Ma. No, don’t get up (comfy bed, quick kisses), just getting back from the game and crashing downstairs tonight. Murder mystery I see? That has always been your thing Ma. I like them too I said before a good night kiss on the cheek. Though she won’t remember me saying Hi or that kiss on the cheek she was indeed comfy, which was so nice to see and all that matters. Then it was a sit down with my Sis and a Matty (nephew) and a soon Jake (other nephew) to regale us with tales of how much he just adores his restaurant’s customers plus a kitten and a dog and half a sandwich and a two halves of a beer before making my way to that downstairs couch that nephew Matt had set up for me with fresh sheets and pillow cases and folded blankets down at the feet end just in case. I’ll have to let him know of little chocolates.

///////////////////////////////////////////

Sitting in Beck’s driveway the next morning after finally taking advantage of this family Albany way station instead of just turning around, with Sisters and Ma’s and Nephews and fur and a fresh made couch, all of my weekend shit and change of clothes in a tote from some place that paid a dollar or two to have their name on a tote, a dental office, one that I’ve never been to, I asked my phone Google lady for directions to get me home.

Eventually, along the way, I realized that it wasn’t the way home I had intended, the Thruway that is mere miles from Beck’s place was apparently not on the top of Google lady’s GPS list of directions but instead she took me, after some time, to the Taconic State Parkway but not before guiding me on an open windowed beautiful picture drive of a day past perfectly sunlit farm stands and pick your owns and corn fields and cows and horses and other farm assorteds, places that were almost idyllic, places that when you pass them you take note of in glances of a that would be kind of nice huh? It was the most unexpected and enjoyable of rides. I think I know the way to go back now, after these family way station stops, at least until the weather turns, as I could be Ok with more of this.

I mean, there are more drives to come and football to be played with sidelines to be walked and more free pizza to be ate or frozen then ate over the next couple of months to give me continued enjoyable reason to tell the world to piss off for a little football while.

Right Prince Arthur?

Miss Sephira?

Well ya didn’t think I’d finish a post up without some obligatory Sister Beck cat pics after I’d told you of them did ya? Silly reader.

(pics of Razzy and Rikki Cat #3 next time around)

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