Every time I hear the song Angels We Have Heard On High during the holidays, I start chuckling to myself and my mind drifts back to a Christmas assembly during my junior year of high school.
It was a JJ tradition to have the band and choir perform a Christmas concert just before we departed the school for winter break. The Mattel electronic football games were the ultra hot toy at the time and some of my friends already had them. Although I didn't know it at the time, I'd be getting one of my own in a few days. Mine was wrapped under the tree along with the Mattel electronic basketball for my brother. (We failed to find the hiding place in the house for our Christmas gifts that year)
My high school served breakfast in the morning, so we congregated inside the cafeteria before school started, especially during the winter months. (yes, Houston has winter weather)
That morning I'd been playing a game with James McCulloch. He was beating me badly before the opening school bell put a premature end to the electronic butt whipping he was administering.
That assembly happened after we got out of homeroom around second period, so as we were filing into the school auditorium we bumped into each other and grabbed seats together in the back.
The concert was turning out to be a long one, so James whips out his game and challenges me to play. He thought he was going to repeat the butt kicking he administered earlier that morning, but I had a new trick for him and decided to play ball control instead of the aggressive pass-happy style I normally employed.
The game makes loud noises when you score either a touchdown or a field goal and a double beep noise at the end of the half or the game. So in order to not be detected and have the game confiscated we used the cover of the concert to play.
We start playing, this is a tight game and so far so good. We're being careful to make sure that much of our game playing coincides with either the choir or band performances. The band is playing loud enough during their segments where no one more than five rows away from us suspects what we're up to. We're also benefitting from the fact that the auditorium is dark except for the stage lights and the couple sitting next to us is more concerned about kissing each other (no mistletoe required) rather than being annoyed about our titanic electronic football battle.
It's in the fourth quarter of the game and we're tied. I decide to try to eat up the entire quarter while scoring the touchdown that would win the game for me. So as I'm concentrating on the game the choir starts singing Angels We Have Heard On High.
I'm so focused on killing the clock and timing my drive so that I score with no time left that I'm not noticing that Mr. Addison (the then choir director) is directing the choir to sing the song softly at a low volume. Just as the choir gets to the 'Gloria' part of the song, I score and the double beep sound reverberates over the entire auditorium.
I look up and see our principal Mr. Pace and the assistant principals Mr. Henry and Ms. Broussard craning their necks from the front row along with several teachers trying to ascertain where the noise came from. They'd confiscated a bunch of them over the last two months and knew exactly what that sound was. They also knew at that moment some electronic shenanigans were going on somewhere in the auditorium. I see to my horror Mr. Henry get up from his seat with a not too pleasant expression on his face to begin his search and confiscate mission.
Fortunately for us when I scored the game was over. I quickly handed James his game with a satisfied smirk on my face as he put it away in his jacket pocket before Mr. Henry reached our section of the auditorium a few moments later. We were also fortunate we weren't ratted out by our fellow Falcons, otherwise we would have been spending a few minutes in the Principal's office.
But hey, I beat him. And James, if you're reading this, if you still have that game I hereby challenge you to a rematch at our reunion in 2010.