When I was 2-years-old the Hilliard family, in accordance with my life plan as dictated by me as soon as I was potty trained, moved west from Bellevue, Washington, to a small timber town twenty minutes from the coast. While in Bellevue we lived in a neighborhood that is a chip shot from Microsoft campuses today. Maybe we should have stayed there but we migrated west to a small town called Aberdeen, Washington. Aberdeen, Washington, is at sea level.
This meant, to you inlanders, that when it rained 40 days and 40 nights (which isn’t at all that Biblical in Aberdeen), there’s gonna be a flood. Flood the color of mud. And we had street fountains. During high tide the holes in the manhole cover plates had jets of water shooting up about a foot through the holes. You just don’t get that everywhere. The lower city was built on pilings, apparently before floods were invented.
The weather never affected football. At age four I was a manly man like the cowboys on TV. Not the Dallas Cowboys, the Hollywood cowboys. Now back to the game, not quite in progress yet.
Sometimes I got to play with the big boys. The Big Guys were 6 to 8-years-old! Sometimes they would let me play in their game “Attack Khrushchev” (the Post Hitler Cold War version of good guys and bad guys) with them. My buddy and one of the big guys was Dan. Dan’s dad was head coach for the Aberdeen High School Football Team. I always liked both of them. I had no idea what adventures were in store with the dad, the head coach of Aberdeen High School football team when it came my time to play at that level.
The “Attack Khrushchev” Cold War Game (the home version) involved the good guys (us) and bad guys (this Khrushchev dude, whoever he was). You had to be able to ride a bike to play…or run really fast for a long, long time to keep up with the big boys on their Pee Wee Herman bikes. I didn’t own a bike yet, so I ran with the guys as fast as I could.
One day the big guys decided to play a game called football. I had heard of it. It required an odd shaped ball you couldn’t bounce because it didn’t come back the same direction. My parents had given me a toy slide projector shaped like Mickey Mouse’s silhouette. The show? Touchdown for Mickey. I was so excited about it. Mickey, as you may have guessed, scores a last second touchdown!
But back to the gridiron, it's time to choose the teams. The Big Guys lined up side by side and two of the biggest guys stepped forward as captains. There was some argument with a third big guy about what was fair about who got to be a captain. That’s probably still in negotiations.
The two captains chose their players. As usual in life, the biggest guys were selected first, the best friends chosen second. And me? Last. This underdog thing turned out to be a blessing later in life. It turns out I was usually the last kid picked for a team later in sports...unless there was a stopwatch or a tape measure to determine the winner. I would have to learn to overcome my size deficiency and the inherent politics in sports, and in life.
This meant never being late for practice, never dogging a drill, and always trying my best to be out in front of other players in order to get any attention from a coach. This is life. I was lucky to have this demonstrated early on.
The players were dressed in worn out jeans, Red Ball Jets, white T-Shirts and Dad’s flannel work shirt. This later became the grunge look. It was a classic late fifties group of boys. The original Goonies. We had nicknames and never knew each other's real names sometimes. There was a pale skinny guy we called Wormy. We had Booger Munch (self explanatory), Smells Like Rotten Oranges, future NBA star String Bean Levine and the one guy that always seems to show up in different forms but the same attitude, Obnoxious A*****e That Wants Someone to Punch His Lights Out. Then there’s Kid From Another Neighborhood No One Any