It's All In The Game
by A. Charles Corotis


It's All In The Game: A selected Collection of Gay Essays
on Life, Love, and the Pursuit of Mnemosyne,
Assayed from the Provocative Pages of
New Jersey's Literate Review Weekly, The Argus

By A. Charles Corotis



It was the darnedest thing I've ever seen on a gridiron, and man and boy, I've been watching 'em for thirty years. The mud oozed 'round my shoes as I stood on the soggy sidelines at Mt. Holly Thanksgiving Day awaiting the kickoff. I wasn't exactly happy. The prospect of squishing in goo to view the annual turkey classic between traditional rivals of intra-county interscholastica left me as cold as my nether extremities were moist.

But I had been promising Bruce all season I would go to see him and his trumpet in action with the Moorestown band, and this was the final game. My procrastination was over, my excuses at an end. I was up a blind alley.

The kids certainly looked smart in their natty uniforms, including the dozen or more short-skirted lassies—majorettes, flag bearers and the like; and Bruce did very well on his new King, and Ross' eyes glowed as he watched big brother, smartly done up in black and gold. His cup ran over when they made room for him up in the bandstand.

I stood. And I squished. And I glowered. But not for long. Things began happening. Within three minutes, Moorestown had scored three times without once having possession of the ball. Three touchdowns from defense be­fore you could say dichlorododecaftuoroheptane.

How happened this football phenomenon? I'll tell you.

Returning the opening kickoff, the Mt. Holly receiver fumbled when tackled. A Moorestown boy snatched the ball in the air and dashed across the goal line. Mt. Holly's first play from scrimmage after the second kickoff was a pass de­flected by one Moorestonian into the hands of another, who sprinted into the end zone. Again Mt. Holly received and, unable to gain, punted. Moorestown's flashy quarterback, Bob Fish, who was playing a defensive wing and not safety, snatched the ball over his shoulder while on a dead run toward his own goal, wheeled, sideslipped, and in a classy exhi­bition of stepping raced sixty yards for the third touchdown.

Finally, after all that, Moorestown took possession and in its first offensive bid ripped off eighty yards in six run­ning plays to score its first orthodox touchdown! Final score, incidentally: 51-0.

It may have been turkey day for most of us, but Moores­town made the Hollies eat seafood: Fish and Walt Salmon were the stars of the attack. Fo'give me.

Thanksgiving dinner afterwards was the first in twenty years that the whole family, including Hazel's folks and mine, hasn't enjoyed together at our house. Illness confined them to their own homes, and Ross, in his little invocation, asked that it not happen again.

Thanksgiving. How lightly we accept it, maybe even grouse over it.

Swinburne told us off in "The Triumph of Time":

Oh brother, the gods were good to you. Sleep, and be glad while the world endures. Be well content as the years wear through; Give thanks for life, and the loves and lures.

I should have better sense than to essay one of my rare poetic flights after quoting Algernon Charles, but he died when I was born so he won't rnind, and I have something to get off my chest, however belated thanksgiving  thaumatrope

You have something to say? Speak out, then; it's America, friend, have your say.
 We've no sinister OGPU, no grim NKVD to torture and banish and slay.

How sweet freedom's flavor, how cherished: work and worship, write, wed as we please;
Best of all: precious freedom from terror; hearts tranquil, minds placid, at ease.

When you left for your labors this morning, were your children beginning their day? Whither bound? A rice paddy for piteous toil? No. School, life-preparing, then play.

"We'll see you tonight, Dad!" Ah yes, yes; no fears for their safety, their pleasures; No hordes of invaders, no death-dealing bombers imperil your home and its treasures.

Home! Oh wondrous word., your castle inviolate, no ruthless storm troopers defiling, 
No dread tread of ominous boot-beats brings fear's tears to faces best smiling.

Your very own home, peaceful haven; unsullied, a harbor serene; 
No pawn of the State, you; for shelter at mercy of some despot's spleen.

You don't like certain leaders? Well, change them; they've no army to crush others' views; 
Don't you know it's your vote wields the power; for your favor each job-seeker sues?

Equality's yours with your neighbor, no caste brands your young ones at birth; 
Our great Constitution protects us, the only criterion: worth.

Opportunity too is assured us, safeguarded on Capitol Hill; 
Learn and earn, work or shirk, dine and wine, play, pray—so to fashion our lives as we will.

'Tis not so all over this world, friend: only self-imposed limits to bide; 
Innate talent, ambition mean little with liberty's vantage denied.

Smart as you might the Muscovite be, sir; the Berber or coolie or Hessian;
What avails them their drive, their acumen, in the soul-stifling stench of oppression?

Indistinctive components of man-mass, individualism suppressed,
Dreary drudges without aspiration, human dignity only a jest

Undeveloped ability wasted, frustration the lot of crude jewels; 
Unskilled, unschooled, ill-fed, ill-bred, mere existence grubbed out with rude tools.

Comfort? Conveniences? Empty words; labor saving devices unknown;
Central heating, bath, car, television? Lucky to have shoes of their own!

They know nothing of antibiotics, of other miraculous drugs 
Staving death from the wan brow of loved ones, conquering once fearsome, life-stealing bugs.

To your knees then, America, humbly, for the greatest of blessings give thanks
To the Father whose light shines upon you, that you and your family are

Nationalistic? No need for apology; Americanism is meed; 
Our task: to extend its beneficence through a world pain-wracked, sorely in need.

Then let's dedicate prayers of Thanksgiving to the challeng­ing job that's at hand:
Share our gladness by word, deed, and action with brethren in each troubled land.

Children everywhere happy as ours! What a wonderful cause to embrace.
Our best effort to gain this millenium we owe in return for God's Grace.

Let this then be our heart's undertaking: freedom's seeds sown in worldwide dispersal;
Here's a hope and a prayer to All-Highest: May Thanks­giving become universal.