I slowly wiggled myself backwards out of the group and went to the locker room. Surely my stuff must be in there somewhere. When I got there, the locker room had grown to be a mega-sized space, like a department store or a home improvement warehouse. I stared upwards at the impossibly high shelves, stocked with all manner of sports equipment. Each aisle disappeared into the distance. 'Sweet,' I thought, 'my gear must be in here somewhere.'
However, my optimism quickly turned into horror as I realized the rows and rows of shelves were filled not with football equipment but with things from practically every other sport known to man. I climbed up a few levels and found some musty pennies, the kind used in gym class. Close by were some leather handballs connected to strings, like I think they played in the days of the pioneers.
I heard a dull roar from the crowd outside and realized that I had been searching for hours. With renewed vigor, I raced time climbing the enormous shelves and digging through piles of crap. I found what I thought was an Irish hurling stick and wondered if I could maybe tape it to my leg as some sort of hip or thigh pad. After a minute or so, I decided that probably wouldn't work. Another roar outside brought me another step closer to complete lunacy. What was my coach thinking?
Like a starving raccoon, I tore open some netting an another shelf and found - could it be? - yes, it was a helmet! I didn't have anything else, but at least it was a start. It felt kind of light in my hands, but I put it on and looked in a nearby mirror. My solo dose of hope melted onto the floor. I realized it wasn't a regulation helmet but a toy helmet that probably came with a Cabbage Patch Kid. I took it off. No wonder it was so light; it was made of plastic about 2 mm thick.
By this time, I knew someone was probably wondering where I was. I put the helmet on again and took another glance in the mirror. Yes, it was plastic, and no, it had no face mask. Yes, it was tight against my had, and no, it had no padding, but at least it was something! I willed it into something useful. It even had a chinstrap! Again, the faint glimmer of hope was snuffed out when the chinstrap came apart in my hands. Oh hell. I must have been in the locker room for seven hours at this point. I wasn't even sure my team was still out there. I willed myself awake. So much for being young again.