THE MILE WITH A SMLE
Spike Smith and I were bosom buddies. We pretty much moved in the same circles and, in general, shared the same likes and dislikes. Of course, we had our sport team preference. Spike was a very dedicated Yankee fan I was all Detroit Tigers. Not a summer day went past without us discussing old and new stars for each team, batting averages, home runs, runs batted in, and anything else we could think of, true or not. Almost every day in the summer we got together with the other guys in the neighborhood, chose up sides and played baseball till it was time to eat or it got dark. At that time there wasn’t any little league, any parents or crowds around, just kids who loved playing baseball.
In the fall, Spike and I and the gang played ‘fumbles’ football out in the lawn next to the cemetery ‘Fumbles’ was a football game where there was any number of players. It went like this. The football was thrown up in the air. After it came down, it was circled under until a foolhardy soul broke out of the pack, picked it up, and ran like the devil until he was caught and crushed under a pile of bodies. If you were mad at one of your friends that day you tried to have the ball near him when it came down. Later we played football in high school and watched the little guys play ‘fumbles’. To the best of my knowledge ‘fumbles’ is not played much anymore.
It was during high school that Spike and I made the track team. We both ran the mile, neither one of us was very fast but it was a good way to stay in shape for football and it kept the football coach happy. Well, one day before a track meet we got together and decided we would finish in a tie, side by side, just for the fun of it. With our lack of speed we knew it would not impact the outcome of the race or the team scoring. The track was a cinder quarter mile oval surrounding the football field and all our buddies who knew our plan lined the sidelines with unrestrained anticipation.
Well the race began and we stayed up near the front for the first two times around, side by side. Then we faded and we were soon bringing up the rear, side by side. We began the last quarter and maintained position until the final turn. There, out of the corner of my eye, I saw Spike speed it up just a hair. I smiled inwardly because I had that in mind myself. I matched that hair increase with one of my own. He then reciprocated and all bets were off. It was now a no quarter race to the finish. Our friends were going wild. Nobody else at the meet could understand what was happening. The winners were already jogging off the track and the last two contestants were running all out while some spectators were acting crazy. Spike and I did finish finally in a dead heat and collapsed in a pile under our friends who were all rolling around on the ground with jeers cheers and gleeful happiness. Spike and I, still gasping for air, just grinned at each other the same as always. There was no mention of this in the papers the next day. They just mentioned the winners. They didn’t know the winners were Spike and I and our buddies.