At the end of every summer I wondered if this would be the year I'd stop, recalls Benjamin Markovitsby Benjamin Markovits / August 21, 2018 / Leave a comment
Every summer when I was a kid we went to Europe to escape the heat in Texas. At the end of August we flew back from London, were met coming out of the air-conditioned airport by a wall of wet heat, fell asleep on the ride home and woke up deeply confused to the pulse of crickets and sprinklers and the smell and sounds of our old house.
My dad would carry us in from the car before getting the suitcases. Then we tried to fall asleep again, in familiar beds, twisting and kicking off the sweaty sheets. Heat is like the way a place expresses intimacy—the world feels very close. A few days later I was back at school.
One of the consolations was the fact that the school year coincided with the beginning of the American Football season. On Sunday, after Hebrew class, I could spend most of the afternoon on the couch, eating crisps and watching the NFL.
And, with the first day of fifth grade or seventh grade or tenth grade behind me, I could stay up late and watch the Monday night game—with Al Michaels and Howard Cosell, whose nasal tones I used to imitate with my friends as a commentary to our own backyard games. “It is spring, moonless night, in the Louisiana Superdome”—mixing in a little Under Milk Wood as we shot hoops or threw a ball around.
Trying out, passing out
The school year also brought along try-out season. I remember once, a week after coming home, still not acclimatised, having to run twice around campus in the four o’clock sun, which followed you like the spotlight in a prison break, and almost throwing up and passing out. My eyes went dark, I could hear blood in my ears. This was to make the basketball team. At least basketball is an indoor sport, and the gyms are mostly air-conditioned.
Every year as I got older I advanced up the class ladder of football—from YMCA games on a Saturday afternoon, which were basically just another form of childcare, to private club leagues, where the uniforms and bus travel cost 500 bucks a season.
Eventually I quit. Teenagers quit a lot of things, and September is the time to…