The Fourth Quarter

We’re in our late 60s now. We’ve been getting together to watch the University of Hawai‘i Rainbow football games for nearly 40 years. It’s the first game of the season, being broadcast on ESPN2, so personally, I’m stoked that it’s an afternoon game. At one time it was easy to stay up late, watch the night games, but not anymore. Not for me.

We pop our first beers of the afternoon and give out a “Go Bows!” toast to the Bows. “Look at that,” says Jeff, our host, pointing to the TV mounted on the wall of his lānai. “So what do you think?”

We all turn to look up at the TV. I do notice something different; it’s easier to see what’s going on down on the field.

“What is it?” asks Keoki. “I can tell it’s something, but I can’t tell what.”

“My kids bought me a fifty-five incher for my birthday,” says Jeff, beaming.

“Wow,” I say, “I did think the picture was clearer. Couldn’t quite figure out why. Right on, man. That’s another reason to be thankful you got married.”

Jeff laughs. “Yup. No more straining our eyes, am I right?”

We sit.

“How do you like the new chairs,” say Jeff.

“Nice, firm cushions,” I say.

“Good lumbar support,” says Keoki.

“Wow,” I say, checking out the big picture again, “I think I might not even need my glasses to watch the game.”

I take them off, look, squint, blink. “Ah, no, I guess I still need them.” I put them back on. “But definitely not as much as I did last year.”

Keoki says, “I bought a new TV last month. It’s a monster. Seventy-five inches. Expensive, but I thought, what the heck. It’s the last TV I’ll ever need to buy.”

I don’t think I should say “congratulations” to that. Keoki might think I mean congratulations on never having to buy another TV.

“Yeah,” says Jeff, “I know what you mean. We bought a new bed. I told Sarah that we might as well make it the best damn bed we ever had, seeing as it’ll probably be our last one.”

Keoki adds, “ Of course, you know, I said the same thing when I bought my car two years ago. And look at all the problems I’ve had with it. Piece of crap. If the kind of stuff going wrong now had happened in the first year, they’d have had to give me a new car under the state Lemon Law.”

“So,” I ask, “does that mean you’re going to buy a new car?”

“Probably. And if I do, provided no get all the problems like this one, then it’ll for real be the last car I’ll ever need to buy.”

“Yeah, yeah,” says Jeff. “I’m keeping mine up as best I can. If I don’t have to buy another car before I die, that would be great.”

I try to steer the conversation in a different direction. I say, “I’m thinking about buying an electric car.”

“Wow,” says Keoki, “I never thought about that. Maybe I should look into getting one of those. Reduce my carbon footprint. Leave the world a little better place for future generations.”

By now I’m so depressed I want the game to be over so I can go home and go to sleep.

“Here we go,” says, Jeff.

The three of us look up at the big picture.

“You think we’ll live to see them build a stadium on campus?” asks Keoki.

“Are you kidding me?” says Jeff. “They’ve been talking about doing that for like thirty years. No way they’re going to build one before we’re gone.”

It’s hard for me to drink alcohol nowadays. Not like our younger years when I could do a twelve-pack over the course of a game. The only time I drink now is when we get together once a week during football season.

“I need another one,” I say, hoping it’s not the last beer I drink before I die.

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