Monday, October 11, 2010

I Threw A Football In The Air

We throw every day.

The first thing Eli 9.2 says when he walks in from school is "Dad, can we throw?" We either drive to a local high school or just stay in the cul-de-sac, but we always throw.

Actually, I throw. He catches.

I played football in my front yard almost every day in the fall as a kid, but I usually threw to myself. That's not going to happen here.

He runs every pass pattern he knows, and we run two-minute drills, and score is loosely kept, and every game seems to come down to a last-second bomb that he catches and runs in for a touchdown.

I throw a nice ball--always did--but my hands aren't very big, so throwing the youth-sized ball is perfect. I can still throw it thirty-five yards, which doesn't sound like much, but it's an epic throw to a nine-year old.

On the weekends, we go to a local high school that has a band practice field. It's just a big plot of asphalt with an entire field painted on it. Eli loves it, and I've developed an even greater appreciation for how hard it is to throw from a hash mark to the sideline (seriously--quarterbacks are freaks).

We finished throwing on Saturday and headed back to the car. Instead of walking around to his side, Eli will usually just open the closest door and crawl through. So he opened the near-side door (his booster was on the far side), then left it open while he walked back with the football. He tried to throw the ball into the car, but missed.

After he sat down and buckled up, I was about to close the door when I saw the ball on the seat. "Think I can do it?" I asked.

Eli laughed. "No way, Dad," he said.

I picked up the ball and started walking backwards, stopping when I was fifteen yards away. Eli was drinking from a McDonald's cup filled with Powerade, laughing.

"Hold that cup tight," I said, and he started laughing harder. I was going to have to throw at a slightly downwards angle, because I was taller than the roof of the car. Plus, the car doors don't open all the way, so part of the opening into the back seat was blocked. To actually land it inside the car, I was going to have to throw it inside a space about 27"x27".

I could probably do that from fifteen yards about never percent of the time.

"I mean it," I said. "Hold that cup, because this ball is going to knock it out of your hand." He grinned and made a big show of tightening his grip.

I usually don't throw the ball hard when I'm throwing to him, but this time, I did. When I let the ball go, everything seemed to slow down (not for dramatic effect--it really did seem like everything was in slow motion). I saw the ball spiralling, with heavy spin, and as it neared the car I realized it was going to go in cleanly.

Then I saw the ball hit the cup, and watched it explode out of Eli 9.2's hand.

I started walking to the car, and he was already laughing. There was Powerade on him, the carpet, the back seat, the side door--everywhere. And he was laughing his ass off. So was I. We were both laughing so hard that we couldn't say anything for a while.

Finally, when I could actually talk, I said, "Hey, I told you to hold on to that cup." That set us off again. I was laughing so hard that my stomach hurt.

"Dad, you're the GOLDEN ARM!" he said, and he was still laughing so hard that he could barely get the words out.

"For one second, I was William Tell," I said.

"Who's William Tell?" he asked. So I told him the story of William Tell. "Did William Tell spill Powerade all over the car?" he asked, laughing.

"No, that's a modern adaptation of the story," I said.

Eli, laughed. "Dad, look at that!" He pointed to the floorboard, where the cup lid was resting. In two pieces.

Of course I saved it. Hell, I might frame it:

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