Like many people, I cannot boast spectacular memories from high school, but some of my experiences — like volunteering as a watergirl for one of my high school’s football teams — give me a good laugh.
Being a non-athlete has served me well in adulthood, as many of my friends, acquaintances, and colleagues are equally bad at sports. Back in the day, however, it was neither easy nor socially acceptable not to participate in athletics, or at least it felt like a big unspoken rule to me. If you couldn’t chase after a ball or roll around in dirt, you were inadequate and lacked quality extra curriculurs for college applications. Talk about lies my teacher told me!
Because I couldn’t actually play anything, I offered to be the watergirl for my high school’s football team during my junior year. Nikita, Lauren, and I needed community service hours and, admittedly, wanted an excuse to hang out with guys afterschool, so we contacted the athletic department about the watergirl position.
To my initial chagrin, the varsity team had already given that job to a puny underclassman, so we were stuck with the junior varsity freshman boys. At first, there was nothing we dreaded more than to wait on the hands and feet of 14-year-old guys with freshly dropped voices, but we ended up becoming extremely close with practically the entire team. I immediately clicked with Zac, who also went by Blaise and was really into his church. For a brief period of time, Nikita had a thing for him. I think Lauren did as well. I merely thought he was sweet. All the girls wanted to date him, yet he stayed single for the most part. Nikita had a fling with Dax, who was also in my math class, but that was short-lived.
Of the whole batch, I ended up being closest with Adam, a short individual with a big attitude and mouth. We clashed at first, as I didn’t appreciate the sexual comments he’d make towards me, Nikita, and Lauren. At the time, I was horrified, but looking back on it, I suppose I should have expected at least a little bit of crudeness from a group of 14-year-old boys.
“So you’re 16, right?” Adam would ask. “How many guys have you slept with? I bet you’re beat.”
“I don’t know what that means,” I said truthfully.
“It means you’ve been fucked so many times you can’t even feel it anymore,” he said.
“Do you want to know the truth, Adam? I’ve never had a boyfriend. I’ve never hooked up with anyone. I’ve never even been kissed.”
Adam wanted a juicy story where there wasn’t one. Just because I was older did not mean I was in any way more advanced than these fellows. In fact, Adam was far ahead of me in that area. At the time, pretty much all of my good friends were having sex with their significant others, so I felt very behind, but as I learned at the UA, many people don’t have their first romantic experiences until college. Thankfully, I only had to wait a few more months at that point, but some of my closest college buddies weren’t kissed until they reached age 18 or 19. It doesn’t make you a loser to have those experiences late in high school or early on in higher education, but of course none of this resonates with you when you’re 16 and the president of the NBK club.
Though he had a flair for insanity, Adam and I were pals within a week. He guided me through some seriously difficult months during my senior year of high school and talked me through a big break-up. We don’t chat anymore, but I told him something a while back that I still haven’t forgotten: That he helped me more than anybody when my dad was sick in high school. Because Adam had a rough home life himself, I could talk to him about my situation. The others, though sympathetic, exhibited discomfort whenever I spoke of what was going on at my house. During that time, Adam provided an open ear, so I’m glad we buddied up in spite of his initial abrasiveness.
Up until this evening, I’d forgotten all about my days as watergirl, which entailed running across the field at halftime, hauling giant orange tubs of water, and throwing away trash. Tonight, I ran into one of the former football players at Chili’s, so it was nice to reflect on that fleeting experience. It’s even better to no longer have to hide behind that role, which I took on to make up for the fact that I was terrible at sports. If I ever have artistically talented children, I will send them to a school that does not favor athletes.
And by the way, waterboys and girls are completely unnecessary. We distracted the talent and only spent thirty seconds on the field every two weeks. I’m still unsure whether that experience was more than a cover-up.