Interception and Ear Piercing · 8 February 2014

Seeing kids play football in the street reminded me of the time when I got my ear pierced. (It is only strange until you know the whole story.)

I saw three boys playing football in the street on the way home the other day. They looked to be playing a game we used to call, “Interception.” When we were kids, my brother, Russell, and I seemingly played football morning, noon, and night. We would play catch if it was just the two of us or we would play a game if there were four or more. But when there were only three of us, we would play interception.

Interception was a three person football game with only passing. Each person was the quarterback, receiver, and defender sometime during the game. We would always pass to the same person and defend against the same person so it was like one-on-one-on-one. It was great fun when we did not have enough people to actually play a game of football. And we were always playing football.

Interception was great because even though everybody always knew who was going to get the ball, there was always a challenge. For the quarterback, the challenge was to throw the ball at the right time in the right place for the receiver to catch the ball. For the receiver, the challenge was to run away from the defender and, of course, to catch the ball. For the defender, the challenge was to cover the receiver and hopefully make the all too elusive interception. The other great thing about interception was that we only needed three people to play it.

I am and always have been a very competitive person. I want to be the best. At everything. I know it is impossible to do, but still, I work hard to become good at whatever I am trying to be the best at. When we were kids, I wanted to be the best quarterback, defender, and receiver at interception. When I was alone, I threw the football through the tire swing. When I was with somebody else (usually Russell), I would throw or catch. (We were always trying to make the sideline acrobatic catch that the pros made.) And when we played interception, I worked on covering my man like a glove and breaking to the ball at just the right moment to intercept the ball and go for the touchdown.

Needless to say, we had a great time playing football. (It was not the era of trash talking or show boating so we did not emulate those qualities.) We just played and played and played.

Often times, we played football in the front yard. We had such a great open space to play in the back yard, but when we played interception in the front, we could include three other stationary “players” (trees) in the mix. When we were receivers, we would often use the trees as picks for shedding the defender while playing in the front yard. We would go left, then right, then left again, then around this tree or that as we tried to get into the clear. When we had enough people for a game, we could only run by the tree and hope our friends forgot about it and run into the tree as the rusher counted to “five alligator” before rushing. But playing interception, we could run around or even use the trees like we used to use our mother’s legs to hide behind.

One time in particular, we were playing in the front yard and had a great game of interception going. The hedge at the far side of the yard was the end zone and we got there several times during one of my friend’s visits. I am sure there were interceptions too, but this particular game seemed to be more offensive. (Actually, I am making that up. I only really remember what happened at the end.) Anyway, we were having a great time, running routes around the trees and throwing the ball to each other.

At the end of the game, it was all tied up five to five to five with just a little time remaining on the clock (it was getting dark). The ball was placed ten yards from the goal line (the hedge), as we lined up for one last ditch effort. Hut, hut, hut. I raced off the line of scrimmage. I cut left across the field, then right, then left again finishing the crossing route near the hedge. My friend threw the ball to the only place I could possibly get it with the smothering defense of my brother. I had to dive. I stretched out to my full body length and “Smack!” My head hit the hedge. As I got up, I reached up to feel my ear lobe. It was bleeding. End of game.

All I could really do was put pressure on the ear lobe until it stopped bleeding, but my mom fixed me up anyway. I still have a scar on each side of my ear lobe to prove that the stick in the hedge went all the way through, but I know I did not cry or complain about the injury. I know because all I can remember is that I caught the ball.

I never made any highlight reel catches except in my mind, but when I see the kids in the street playing football or when I feel the scars on my ear lobe, I remember a simpler time when we just played football. And I remember the time we played interception and I pierced my ear.

© 2014 Michael T. Miyoshi

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