Updated: November 10, 2012 2:05AM
The Friday night lights were on outside Grayslake North High School, and the wind whipping without apology out of the north after a day of rain provided further proof that autumn is gaining on us.
The occasion was, as hinted at above, football, with sophomore and then varsity teams taking their turns on a playing surface that likely would have been rendered a mud pit if not for FieldTurf. Grayslake North’s opposition on this night were the Eagles of Algonquin’s H.D. Jacobs High, a team featuring young men who were toddlers just the other day.
In fact, I have photos of Jacobs’ starting tailback and long snapper sitting on my couch drinking formula out of a bottle next to my daughter, who was enjoying a bottle of her own at the time. Though she would liked to have been, she was not in attendance Friday because she was at work. The mid-1990s never felt so far away.
Wasn’t it just a couple of months ago that Will Ferrell’s Janet Reno imitation had us in stitches? Aren’t the Gin Blossoms and Ace of Base still popular on terrestrial radio? Isn’t Mel Gibson still basking in the glow of his Best Director Oscar for “Braveheart”?
Shortly after I was informed that the 6-foot-5-inch left tackle was that one gangly kid we used to see at Chuck E. Cheese birthday parties, Grayslake North got on a roll and the Jacobs parents grew more and more peeved at the hometown enthusiasm of the public-address announcer. It was time to take a stroll over to the concession stand.
While waiting in lines of chilled spectators, I took the time to observe the packs of 21st century high school students, doing exactly what high school students have been doing at public events since Richie and The Fonz were at Jefferson High.
Girls were gathered in circles, peeking occasionally over their shoulders to see which boys were paying them attention. Boys happily played the fool, running about and lifting each other up to display their prowess. I waited for a literal peacock to wander through and fan its plumage.
Soon, all the Friday night rituals were complete, and the game clock ran continuously with the score out of reach. The young adults and no-longer-young adults made separate postgame plans, but no one intended to stay out too late — some because of curfew, others because children of the 1970s and ‘80s rarely stay up past midnight anymore.