Kevin Gibson asked if I could write him some lyrics.Game2

On Aug. 16, 1978, I “worked Tables 17 and 4 with the same old crowd.” As mentioned, the Tonka Toys factory was so loud we couldn’t chat while working.

But sitting outside at the picnic tables on dinner break, “Kevin Gibson and I did a lot of talking about collaborating our songwriting talents. So this Sunday I think we’re gonna get together [to] do a little jamming and go out and have a few beers.”

The diary entry concludes with just one word: “Offsides!”

The grind was getting me down. I was itching for a creative outlet. Kevin could see that and offered a way out. If I wrote some lyrics, he promised to put them to music.

The next day I was back working the tumbler-deburrer, which involved a wage increase for the night. There, between tumbler loads, I had time to tinker with a poem. “Showed Kevin ‘Offsides,’” the diary says.*

By Tuesday, Aug. 22, I was working Table #1 with “the most stupid unprofessional women I have ever encountered.” I later wrote, “Luckily the night is over.” Bob Nelson and I were still hanging out. That Friday he dropped me off at the factory gate to another hot, dirty, and muggy night at Table #7. “So what, we hit quota.”

If I hadn’t hit bottom, I was at least within sight of it.

On Monday, Aug. 28, the high schoolers returned to campus. I’d stopped over at Mary Geyen’s that Sunday. We talked and looked over old photos. She confessed to being nervous about her first day back.

For me it would be another night at the factory, tiredly writing in the diary when I got home: “Oh, to feel so alone…”

You see, I’d phoned Debbie the following day. The State Fair get-together didn’t seem likely, so I didn’t mention it. “I’ll have to call it the end,” I wrote later. “What would be the good of just talking over the phone and not go out?” Now that everyone was back in school, Debbie and I faded into the distance.

The diary entries became shorter and shorter: “Went to Work of course.” “So what, every night, just work.”

Then, on Friday, Sept. 1—the night of first big football game of the season—a brief pause from the present hell and a window to my past.

At our 8:30 p.m. dinner break, Kevin and I jumped in his “beat-up old LeSabre and headed out to the 7-11” through town, past the brightly lit playing field where my old high school team faced off against Hutchinson.

Game1Since we didn’t have a lot of time, we just drove by. “But,” I wrote in the diary later, “all the hundreds and hundreds of people gathered under those lights and All The Color! Enough to make Your Heart Beat Faster.”

During breaks at my lone tumbler-deburrer station, I’d also started drafting a short story with the working title of “Parade of Faces.”

The dinnertime drive-by further ignited my imagination about the story, set in the bleachers of a high school football game. “I was thinking of all the stories going on at one time. Mind Boggling.”

After shift, my brother picked me up in Mom’s car and we stopped by an after-party at newly minted senior Andy Phillips’ house.

There I got the final score of the game.

We lost.


So reluctantly I will leave
Where so boldly I had entered
My new map contains no lines
Dusty deserts, no road signs
And where I walk, from there now on,
My hope is centered.

Once someone walked with me
And spoke of games he’d played,
But now that voice is too dim
A different road has captured him,
And even there that player never
Could have stayed.

They screamed so loud between their walls;
Climbed so deftly, took their falls,
And awarded smiling players daily cheers;
They were ready to watch the play,
And have said what they would say
As the clock collected minutes into years.

Then the frightened slipped away
Or were crushed beneath the crowd:
For the lights have now died
Where we entered from the side,
And the captive cannot leave
Before the proud.

~ by completelyinthedark on July 5, 2013.

One Response to “Offsides!”

  1. Reblogged this on Completely in the Dark and commented:

    After last week’s post on songwriter Marlee MacLeod, I got to thinking about my own forays there. So, this. Next week, all-new post. Happy New Year, friends!


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