The one day in the kid-year that has the ability to rival gift-giving and candy-eating holidays in terms of build-up anticipation, excitement, and all-around awesomeness is the last day of school. Christmas and birthdays are the natural kings due to the simple fact that they're both filed with things that are (1) shiny and (2) sugary; however, the last day of school overcomes its disadvantages and earns its way into kids' hearts by being that one unique day that opens a door to three months of unmitigated freedom (Editor's note: the degree of freedom experienced by most is probably a little mitigated, but you know what I mean). But I've come to realize that as you grow up and get a job, the magic of that last day of school is lost. Most of us (respect to our readers in the EU) don't get a summer vacation--in fact, my job ramps up as the summer progresses. We find ourselves moving further and further away from the feelings we had as kids--where one day served as a gateway to sleeping in, no homework, and playing Wiffle ball in the street until it was time to catch lightning bugs. So with 5th grade teacher She's summer vacation now upon us, I got to thinking: what was I doing right now when I was that age? Fifth graders are, what, 10 or 11? What was 10-year-old G up to?
Go back to June 1994.
The end of my school year was highlighted by Field Day, which was a sophisticated inter-class all-day track meet put on by our gym teacher Mr. Brown. Homerooms competed against each other, and based on performances and points, one class would win and get a trophy. It was a huge deal! Our school didn't have a track, so Mr. Brown measured out distances and painted a track on the grass, complete with lanes. Nowadays, such an event could never happen. I'm sure someone would complain that it was too competitive (it was--with chants and weeks of trash-talking) and that the teachers were too into it (they were--methinks there was a bar bet involved?) That day, the track Gods looked down upon me favorably. I'm unsure as to whether or not Field Day still exists in the form that I know, but as of a few years ago, I was STILL the school record-holder in the 50m dash.
About a week before school got out, I got to witness something that, given the last 19/20 years and before that, the previous 54, I may never get a chance to see again: the Rangers won the Stanley Cup. For the benefit of all but the 16 of us who actually watch the sport, I'll keep my commentary relatively brief. The Rangers' run through the playoffs that year was nothing short high-drama, with the Eastern Conference Finals against Jersey producing one of the best seven-game series ever. Overtime losses here, shutouts there, a guaranteed win in the New York media, and Matteau! Matteau! Matteau! Good stuff. Anyway, Game 7 of the Finals was tense, and that was the first time I remember my mother on the literal edge of her seat (SHE got me into hockey). I stayed up way past my bedtime that night as my mom told me about watching Fast Eddie and the GAG line. The Rangers took a 3-1 lead into the third in what became the longest, most high-strung twenty minutes of my young life. Vancouver got one back, and when LaFayette rang the post with about 5 minutes left, there was a collective shriek in our house.
On the last day of school, my dad pulled me out early to go here, and for a first round game, it was ridiculous. Italy-Norway, and my chance to see Maldini, Baresi (it was actually the game that he got hurt), and Il Divin' Cordino (whom would later send my summer into despair, but that isn't the focus right now). A fantastic game--one that I still have on VHS and will out every now and again. Cagey Italian style possession-style until they finally converted on a free kick in the 63'. Pagliuca even saw red for coming out to defend a breakaway and handling the ball outside 18 yards! Italians travel well, and to NYC, they travel REAL well. That was easily the most crowded I'd seen the old Giants Stadium (Giants tickets are expensive and the Jets are, well, the Jets). We yelled, we sang, and we learned a few words that we couldn't say in front of mom.
June 17th, 1994 also saw my routine broken. My childhood TV-viewing schedule up-ended and discarded without so much as an apology. The 17th was a Friday, and who remembers TGIF?? I remember this night vividly, and I couldn't tell you why other than I was waiting for an episode of Boy Meets World that never came. Never! Instead, I was force-fed Channel 7 Eyewitness News watching a live feed from LA all because SOME GUY was in a WHITE BRONCO.
My father didn't understand why anyone wanted him, considering he hadn't scored a touchdown in 20 years.
Date yourselves, kids. It was THAT long ago.
Question of the day: what did you do when you were 10?
|G, age 10.|