October 21st 4:36pm - The Sweet Sixteen

My junior high was only a few blocks from a restaurant/BBQ/ice cream parlor. Clo’s was a blissful anomaly to the junior high horde. Blown-up pictures of native Santa Rosans and local sports teams adorned the walls. Board games consisting of Scrabble, Monopoly, and more lingered, demanding us to play with them. Entering Clo’s zone one discovered a BBQ and seating outside, and inside an ice cream counter on the left with sprawling tables, chairs, and recliners. On meandering through a small hallway one unearthed a mammoth open expanse complete with booths, hay bales, and a stage, microphone included.
In seventh and eighth grade I ran cross-country. Our running coaches were the wrestling coaches, dads of kids in our classes. They strutted more effectively than running seven miles a route. Accordingly, the top eight males and eight females would exercise by ourselves while the adult supervision would pursue the other group. Thus, kids would lead kids on runs the coaches initially walked through with us. Coaches would inform us of the fitting course and the “Sweet Sixteen” would sprint up the hill, only to halt the instant we were out of ear and eyeshot. We would cease training in discreet locations in the hills, most involving blackberry bushes and benches. We observed our watches, always tracking how long it should take us to run the desired course. It was quite the operation. We divulged stories, faces running with laughter and blackberry juice, as the remainder of the cross-country team physically extended themselves, suffering through yet another course while the coaches/watchdogs nipped at heels. The “Sweet Sixteen,” the fast ones, the gifted ones, lounged until the decreed time. We would then line up, and, at the declared indicator, scamper down the hill, compelling our legs to exert themselves for one and a half minutes. One brief sojourn at a water fountain where the delegated Water Fountainer squashed the button with the power to issue forth water resulted in fifteen high schoolers’ elbows and bodies as the throng attacked the fountain, splashing faces, arms, and chests with water. The Sweat Simulator performed resplendently every day. Our legs delivered us to our coaches dripping counterfeit sweat and gasps of air.
Our Fridays comprised grand encounters and magnificent tales, blackberries and mirth. Upon galloping down the mound oozing sweat, our coaches would usher the entire team to Clo’s, reward for our demanding challenge: ice cream.

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