By BEN FRENTZEL
It’s an especially pleasant case of déjà vu, evoking feelings of nostalgia and youth.
On my way in to the Providence Bowl, where Hickman and Rock Bridge high schools square off for their annual football game on Faurot Field, I close my eyes and slip back into high school in Afton. The warm smell of a blackened 50-gallon drum full of hot dogs and burgers invites me further.
And I’m jittery. I remember my first Homecoming dance with a girl I had wanted to ask out since the first grade. The pep rally roared in my ears, and we cheered the same words my father and his friends cheered 30 years earlier.
I enter Memorial Stadium and a familiar combination of tradition and pop culture is immediately evident as the pep band performs a stripped-down version of “Ice Ice Baby.”
Dads hoist their squirming sons to see the field, moms chat with other moms. For one night, their social lives seem completely tied to this game.
Many of the fans are graduates, and the family history binds them to each other. They understand and know each other.
“Maybe he’s a future Kewpie,” Mike Arendall says of his young son, Landon Hunting. To carry on the tradition means writing more history.
“Oh, my Lord,” Lee Jones says, almost under his breath. “It sure looked like a good game until this.”
In the refreshments area, students seem to hardly notice their Kewpies are losing. (In the end, it’s by only four points.) It’s an organic pool of gossip. The guys show each other up with easy insults, and the girls pick at middle schoolers who are trying to act like high schoolers.
“Aw, he’s so cute, he thinks he’s so hood,” one girls says. “He’s hitting puberty, too.”
The students moving between the stands and walkway have come to see their friends, support them on the field and experience everything a Friday night football game under the lights has to offer. It’s way more than a game. It’s a homey-feeling, smokey-smelling, kid-yelling night.
I remember these Friday nights. It’s old-school fun.