By Dom Cioffi
My son’s basketball season officially ended this past Friday night with a loss in the semi-finals. It took no more than 15 minutes from the end of his game before he started pestering me for a sleepover.
I have a rule during any sports season that there will be no sleepovers on weekends with a game. I learned many years ago that this is a recipe for disaster.
I only had to experience the sleepy, irritable, unmotivated behavior on a few occasions before I pulled the plug on that activity. I remember one Little League game where he actually sat down and cried prior to the start of the first inning because he was so tired after spending the night at a friend’s house.
After I made the rule, he occasionally tried to sneak one in, but I’ve never budged. Eventually he came to understand that it was never going to happen. But he does know that there are several weekends in between seasons where it shouldn’t be an issue, so he relies heavily on those times to fill up his sleepover quota.
So, once the game ended last Friday, he hit me up. I wasn’t surprised that he asked, but I was surprised at who he invited. Instead of one friend, he wanted three, and he had a good argument why it had to be that number.
My son has acquired a great group of buddies, all of whom play basketball on the school team. The three kids he wanted to spend the night (along with my son) make up the core of his team. His argument was that they wanted to play two-on-two basketball all day and then hang out that night. I’m a sucker for any event that involves my son and lots of physical activity, so I agreed.
At noon the next day, his three friends showed up and sure enough, they played non-stop basketball for hours. They then walked up to the local sub shop for a grinder before topping things off with a Dunkin’ Donuts run. And when they came back, they played more basketball.
Finally, they piled into the house at dusk and proceeded to head into our playroom where they planned to watch ESPN and stare at their phones. I happily promised them pizza, soda, and ice cream sundaes in return for their long day of athletics. I like spoiling my son and his friends when they visit, especially when they act like boys and not degenerate zombies who only focus on video games.
I ordered the pizzas and stopped by the store for supplies, before heading back with enough food to serve a small army. I then prepared everything and walked into the room, arms full of food.
That’s when it first hit me; an odor so pungent that it could only come from a roomful of sweaty teenage boys. I ignored it at first, thinking it might just be the Fritos. But on a return trip, I was thoroughly bowled over. These boys smelled…BAD.
My son has just recently reached the point where he showers regularly and wears deodorant. I can’t speak for the other boys, but it sure seemed like their personal hygiene self-awareness was lacking.
I finally couldn’t take it any longer and called them out. “I’m not sure who it is,” I exclaimed with a disturbed smile on my face. “But one of you stinks!”
They all laughed, thinking it was funny, and pointed to one of the boys, all quite assured that he was the culprit. Surprisingly, he fessed up and admitted to a horrible foot odor problem before proceeding to lift up his foot toward me as if I was interested in confirming his claim.
I immediately retreated to my son’s bathroom to dig out the foot odor spray I purchased several months ago. I then returned to the room and heavily sprayed all of their feet.
While any adult would have been mortified by this experience, the boys thought it was great fun and were barely fazed by the social implications, thoroughly proving they were still kids at heart.
I’m sure teens in the early 1900’s had the same issues, but their lives were not nearly as easy. And when WWI broke out, they were called upon to do things that teens today only experience behind the safety of a joystick.
In this week’s film, “They Shall Not Grow Old,” director Peter Jackson unveils a painstaking project in which he and a team of digital restoration artists took weathered war footage from this period and modernized it in such a way that it brought uncanny life to the people and scenes.
This is an amazing film not only for the restored images and first person narration, but also for the unique story that is told. Check this one out if you have any interest in the first World War. The film you watch will give you an entirely new perspective.
A vivid “B+” for “They Shall Not Grow Old.”
Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.