"Justin, are you ready yet? We need to leave if we're going to see the beginning of the game." Craig Taylor stood by the front door of his home anxiously playing with the keys to his car. He had tickets for the soccer game between Penn and the University of Pittsburgh. Even though he went to Dartmouth, he liked sitting in the stands and rooting for his hometown team. It didn't matter whether it was soccer, football or baseball. Although Dartmouth wasn't noted for its athletic prowess. Craig was proud that he was on the baseball team and led his division in homeruns.
What he wasn't proud of was the fact that his only son didn't seem interested in any sports. He was never outside playing kickball with the other boys. All he seemed interested in was drawing. Granted, he was very good at that but Craig wanted his son to be more "manly", hence today's trip to the stadium.
Eight year old Justin sighed at his father's warnings. He didn't want to go sit on the hard bleacher seat and watch whatever sport his father was dragging him to today. He really wanted to be at the special art class held each Saturday at the Junior College. It was open to all ages and his mom promised he could go. But his dad seemed to have other ideas, like fishing with live bait. Eeeww! Swimming was okay. Besides, he had to learn how to swim in order to go into the new pool in the backyard. Yea, swimming was good.
"I'm coming," Justin yelled when he was halfway down the stairs. A small smile lit his face. He knew his father hated it when he yelled.
"Must you yell so loud, Son? I'm right here."
"Sorry," Justin said and shrugged his shoulders.
Craig and son found their seats near centerfield. Craig had tried to explain soccer to his son, but it mostly went in one ear and out the other. Despite Justin's lack of enthusiasm, Craig kept up a lively patter and even bought Justin a t-shirt with the U of P logo.
As the game started, Justin tried to look bored, but he soon became quite interested in the men running around the field, kicking the white and black ball, the muscles in their legs bulging with each move.
Justin already had the idea that he was "different" than other boys. To an eight year old, all girls are yucky, but Justin's best friend was a girl who was absolutely not yucky. He got a lot of kidding for that. He just knew, even at this tender age, that he looked at boys as more than playmates.
Penn was slamming the home team and even Justin could tell it was because of one perfect player. Justin opened his program looking for the names of the players on the Penn team. He found the correct number and read "Brian Kinney, junior".
He didn't know why, but there was something special about the tall, lean player, who so effortlessly managed to get the ball from an opponent and outrun just about everyone else on the field. Before he knew it, he was cheering for Brian Kinney with each goal he made. Craig wasn't so happy.
"What are you doing? You're supposed to cheer for our team, not the visitors. Why do you think I brought you here?"
Justin, who was already mentally sketching his favorite player, didn't know what to say to his father. He surely couldn't let him know about that funny feeling in his stomach when he saw a gorgeous guy. He wasn't sure what it meant himself.
The game was over and Penn had won. The message over the loudspeaker said that both teams would be available for autographs and pictures, and gave the location.
"Can I get an autograph, Dad? Please?"
Craig was so glad that his son was that interested in soccer. Maybe he'll be an athlete after all; we just had to find the right game. He smiled down at his son. "I think that would be a very good idea, Son."
Justin waited patiently for his turn. Craig wasn't sure he liked the idea of Justin's wanting an autograph from the visiting team, but had to agree their star player was quite good. At least Justin knows that it's all about winning.
"Mr. Kinney, Mr. Kinney, please, can I have your autograph?" Justin looked up into the face of Brian Kinney.
Brian looked down at the young boy. He put his usual gruff attitude away and tousled the blond hair. "Of course, let me have your program. What's your name?" Justin told him and Brian signed his name and gave the program back. "I see you are a Pittsburgh fan. You know I'm on the other team, don't you?"
"Yea," Justin said shyly. "But you're the best player."
Most of the ride home was quiet, at least on Justin's side. Craig talked about the game and talked about the next one, but Justin wasn't interested. Craig suggested they stop for pizza on the way home, but Justin declined.
"I thought you had a good time."
"Yea, it was okay. I'm just anxious to get home and tell Daphne about it."
At home, Justin ran up the stairs to his room and picked up a sketch pad from his desk. He spent the next few hours sketching his hero in different poses. He thought he did pretty well considering he'd never seen a soccer game before.
"Too bad I'll probably never see him again," Justin thought as he was falling sleep.
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