I used to hate the Fall. In my young student mind, it always signified the end of Summer fun, and the beginning of another school year. However, as I’ve gotten older, the onset of Fall weather starts to bring about a certain nostalgic feeling that makes me smile. The first set of memories that come to mind when I walk outside on a cool, but not-quite-cold Fall evening are Friday night high school football games.
I never played high school football, but where I grew up, the games were just about the only thing going on in Fredericksburg, VA on a Friday night. If my high school, the James Monroe Yellow Jackets, had a home game, that was the place to be. It didn’t matter if we had a State Championship team, or a crappy one. You went to the game, because everyone else was going to be there, and you had a good time. I mean, what else were you going to do in The Middle of Nowhere, VA back then? Ride around the Roses parking lot(or parking lot of some other now non-existent department store) and do doughnuts while your equally bored friends without cars watch? The only things open in that town after 9:00 back then were 7-11s and the hospital. Those were your other options for excitement: buy a Slurpee and Big Bite, or hurt yourself and go to the ER. That was it.
I’m sure I probably put this story up here before, but I’m going to tell it again. The first time I ever asked a girl out, which was also basically the first time I ever got shot down, I did it at a Friday night football game. I used to be shy and scared of rejection back in those days. It was almost as bad as that Old Spice Swagger commercial with LL Cool J. ALMOST.
I was in 10th grade at the time, Homecoming was getting close, and of course, I had no date. My friends pointed to one of the cheerleaders named Minnie(a nickname, folks). They told me that she didn’t have a date, so I should walk over to her and ask her to the dance. After listening to this group of my peers, none of whom really knew sh*t about women, give me advice on how to ask her out, I walked over to where Minnie was sitting with a bunch of other cheerleaders. I was half-nervous, and half hyped-up from the pep talk my friends gave me. I sat down next to her, and the conversation went like this:
ListenToLeon: Are you going to Homecoming? Because if you are, do you want to be my date? I don’t have one, and I heard that you don’t have one and I think you’re pretty, so I want to go with you…
Minnie: I think I’m going to go alone. I’m sorry.
I had no idea that all 15 or so of my friends had followed me over there, and listened to the whole thing. All I heard was assorted shouts of:
“THAT’S F*CKED UP!”
“IT’S GON’ BE ALRIGHT, MAN.”
“DON’T WORRY ABOUT IT. SHE AIN’T THAT CUTE!” – Said by the guy who ended up dating her for 4+ years
Despite everything, I showed as much class as I could muster by apologizing to her for them yelling, and then convincing my friends to walk away before it got even more embarrassing for me. Surprisingly, they didn’t think I’d have the balls to actually approach her, so none of them had jokes. That was definitely a relief. The following Monday, as I was trying to avoid eye contact with the cheerleaders who witnessed everything, I got approached at my locker by a girl that I didn’t even think knew I existed. Her name was Eunice, and she was WAY prettier than that old lady-ass name of hers let on. She said that she heard about what happened at the game, and then she asked me to go to Homecoming with her. I said yes, and IMMEDIATELY realized that Friday night had taught me three valuable life lessons:
1.) Getting shot down doesn’t hurt. It only hurts when you don’t try
2.) A closed mouth don’t get fed, so go after what you want
3.) My friends are idiots sometimes, but they have my back
So as you can see, Fall has a special place in my heart, because it takes me back to experiences that helped make me the man that I am today.Tweet