Not Everybody Gets it

Since his early twenties, Felipe has always been a runner.  In the last couple of years he found a new love in his life. He played every sport available in high school and he did quite well with them. The two sports he did not participate were running and yes soccer. He was at one time was very good at running and for his age he is still pretty damn good. Soccer is another story. He loves the sport with  a passion he finds surprising. He started playing about four four years back at indoor facilities around Portland and even ventured to Southwest Washington for a weekend league. Picking up a sport in your mid-forties is humbling. Playing against ‘Kids” twenty years younger is intimidating. Some would like to argue, but Soccer is a contact sport and Felipe would often end up injured. A few months back he had decided to give his body a break and not play for a few months.

Well you know how addiction works. Addiction exerts a long and powerful influence on the brain that manifests in three distinct ways: craving for the object of addiction, loss of control over its use, and continuing involvement with it despite adverse consequences. Or maybe it is simply the endorphins. Well tonight he was playing soccer again. He knew he wasn’t all that good yet something drew him back every time. This afternoon was warm and sunny and Felipe decided to kill two birds with one stone. Felipe decided to get used to being on the ball again. He decided to run for forty five minutes dribbling a soccer ball. It was a pleasant romp in the foothills leading down to the river. His running partner, his lovable border collie, stole the ball easily a time or two leaving teeth marks in the ball. It was not the first time this soccer ball was subjected to the incisors of his dog. His balls skills left for plenty of room for improvement.

That night he headed to his soccer game and the weather was in stark contrast to the brilliant sunshine of a few hours earlier. The rain made the commute difficult on the winding road along the Willamette river. It was nice to be back playing soccer. Felipe usually sized up the players on the other team. They looked so young and fit and more suited for soccer than him. But then again it is a team sport. Indoor soccer is always an injury waiting to happen.

Tonight’s match was a night much like many that had come before. Felipe’s style was to simply run faster, longer  and harder than everybody on the pitch. It was a strategy full of holes as he was no longer faster than most anybody on the pitch. Tonight he would have to run longer because there was only one substitute for the night. He dreaded these nights and knew he should probably pace himself.

Late in the first half he faked the gullible young man  marking him and his teammate hit with a pass that was pure poetry. Much to his surprise he struck the ball perfectly with the inside of his right foot and the ball precisely rippled the the back netting. He even surprised himself and his team mates celebrated as if he finished goals that way all the time. The game ended in a 3-3 tie as Felipe doubled over, half in ecstacy,  and the rest in complete utter exhaustion.

The Soccer complex had an upstairs bar where the team went for a subdued after game celebration. This was a late game and they all had jobs they had to attend the following day. Felipe finished most of his beer and sat and enjoyed the post game endorphin driven buzz. It was one of the better feelings a human brain experiences. They even showed repeats of previous games on bar’s televisions. That is a pretty decent business move. Felipe didn’t want to watch. He wanted the memory of his near perfect goal to be as it was experienced.

Felipe made the trip home soon after , as he also had to be awake at an early hour. The drive home was a challenge in itself. For the last two hours it rained heavily. The road he took to the game was now engulfed in high water. The visibility was horrible as a fog started settling up the river. He drove well under the speed limit.

As he approached downtown Lake Oswego he reduced his speed to the posted hyperbolic 10 miles per hour. He followed the letter of the law. This was a place Lake Oswego police were known to pull over people unfamiliar with the local nuances. He was on a post game high yet he was happy to be home.

Seven blocks from his house a car pulled up behind him, then followed him for another three blocks through the main street of Lake Oswego. And then out of the corner of his rearview mirror he caught a glimpse of flashing lights.  In his mind he had done nothing wrong so he confidently turned left into the complex where he lived.  One block from his house, he sat in his car as a vehicle with flashing lights radioed something to somebody. It was all flashing lights and a garbled voices.

He politely answered all the policeman’s questions with what is expected at a traffic stop. “Yes sir here is my license and registration.”, “I am coming home from a late soccer game sir.”, “Yes I had one Session Lager an hour ago with my team.”

The policeman started shining a flashlight into his eyes and explained to Felipe that he had driven into downtown with his high beams on.”

“I am sorry sir, I believe that to be true. The road along the river is in need of a few more streetlights.”

The policeman once again shined the flashlight into his eyes and Felipe stood quiet albeit more than a little worried. He simply wanted to get home and relive his goal with his wife. He wondered to himself whether she was worried he was not home yet. Probably she had put herself to bed quietly pissed off at him for staying out late.

The officer, while still shining the light in his eyes said. “Your eyes don’t look right. You don’t smell of alcohol but something isn’t adding up.”

“Yes sir I am high on endorphins” to add a little context he relayed how he scored a goal that night.

The context didn’t help much. The officer soon submitted Felipe to a full field sobriety check. He was asked to put his foot on his nose and look at the stars and count backwards from one hundred. Felipe doesn’t remember the exact test but whatever it was it was ridiculous. His muscles ached from his soccer game and his hamstrings were killing him. Still the endorphins anchored him. He passed the sobriety test like he had prepared for it. The officer gave him a quizzical look and handed him a ticket for driving with high beams in Lake Oswego. The officer said he could walk over to city hall in the next week with the ticket and get the charges removed.

Felipe did run over to city hall the following Thursday and presented the paperwork. It was another brilliant sunny day much like the day he ran with his dog and a soccer ball.  Yes, Felipe ran the mile to the city office.  The charges were promptly dropped.

The clerk chuckled briefly, clearly trying to stifle a laugh.


“Don’t worry I ran here.”







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