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THE GUY CHRONICLES

Everyone's on the Run as Summer Fades Away

September 04, 2002|Chris Erskine

The daughter loads the little sedan full of my stuff, the old Zenith and the 17-year-old microwave my wife and I bought not long after we were married. All our treasures heading off to college, in an old Honda with brand-new brakes. "Can you help her carry the TV?" my wife asks.

"That's my TV," I say.

"She needs it in the car," my wife says.

Parents, I'll warn you right now: Sophomore year, they hardly even wave so long. Be ready for it. Be prepared. They'll board that plane or climb into the car without a second glance back your way. Tough customers, these sophomores. Nerves of steel. Don't say I didn't warn you.

"Call when you get there," my wife yells as our daughter gets into the car. "Call when you reach the end of the street," I yell.

We stand at the porch, waving as she goes, glad that not everyone in the world drives as fast as she does. "She barely waved goodbye," I say as my daughter disappears down the street.

"Look, she forgot her pillow," my wife says.

But not much else. She packed the car tight. Clothes. Stereo. Computer. A quesadilla maker. Her mother's extra kitchen spoons. Magellan sailed the globe with less. "Hey, she forgot the couch," I say.

"She already has a couch," my wife says.

And so ends this summer of love, my mail-order bride suddenly pregnant and my oldest daughter sprinting off to college like a quarterback for the end zone. Strange days, these. A time of surprising hellos and poignant goodbyes. "She call yet?" I ask five minutes later.

"Not yet," the little girl says.

"She call yet?" I ask in half an hour.

"Who?" asks the boy.

"Your sister," I say.

"She's probably busy," explains the boy.

OK, it's not like I don't have other things to worry about. The front door needs painting. And there's a ceiling fan to hang. Just in time for fall. Worse yet, the uniforms have yet to arrive for the little girl's soccer team. Five days till opening day and we still don't have uniforms or a team banner. As a coach, this kind of stuff will eat you alive if you let it. It's one reason you see so much burnout.

"Coach, where are the uniforms?" the parents keep asking.

"They're coming, they're coming," I answer, when in fact I don't know for sure. The uniforms may not be coming. We may be the only team that shows up for the opening day parade in uniforms we make ourselves.

"You sew a little?" I ask Amy, our talented midfielder. "No," she says.

"How about you?" I ask Anna, our star forward.

"Not me, Coach," she says.

Strange days, these. We may be the only team that shows up for the Opening Day Parade in last year's Halloween costumes. No big deal. Six witches. Some pirates. Couple of ghosts. Play ball. "Last year, one girl was Marilyn Monroe," the little girl says.

"That'll be perfect," I say.

Trouble is, it's hard to pick a team name when you don't have your team colors. One year, we were the Pink Kittens. Another year, the Teal Tornadoes. Generally, soccer teams base their names on the color of their uniforms. So at a practice, we try to come up with a name that doesn't have a color reference.

"The Holy Molars," suggests one mom, noting that we are sponsored by a dentist. "How about "The Kix"?" I ask.

With no other suggestions, we go with the Kix, a simple name that sounds like breakfast cereal. Go Kix. Run, Kix, run. The parents seem satisfied with the name, but the girls leave practice like hunched and overworked airline reservation clerks. As names go, Kix is sufficient. But rather uninspiring.

At a Labor Day scrimmage, we consider some other ideas. "I think I've got it," I say.

"Got what?"

"A name," I say.

"What?"

"The Runny Eggs," I say.

Some of the kids seemed amused. Others seem puzzled and concerned for our immediate future. "The Runny Eggs?" one of them asks.

"Because we like to run," I explain.

"And we appreciate a good breakfast," says Coach Bruce. Me, I like the name if only for the potential sight of two-dozen parents standing on the sidelines on autumn afternoons, yelling "Go Eggs!" Or, more appropriately, "Run, Eggs, run!"

So, till a better name comes along, we'll be the Runny Eggs. Our team motto (submitted by Marisa): "No Yolking Around." Kristina still isn't sure about the name, but Destiny likes it plenty. Jessica does, too.

"I like eggs," she explains.

"Bless you," I say.

Of course, there are added benefits to being the Runny Eggs. If the uniforms don't arrive in time, we could wear our yellow mesh practice jerseys to our games. Our team name would then actually match our uniforms. No yolking. "You think they've ever impeached a coach?" my wife asks when I tell her about our new name. "Not since Clinton," I say.

"This could be your year then," she says.

Life. It'll eat you alive if you let it.

Chris Erskine's column is published

Wednesdays. He can be reached at chris.erskine@latimes.com.

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