Included in anthologies from Grub Street and Thieves Jargon.
Always wear a condom, even with your girlfriend. Go easy when hazing the freshmen, you never know who’ll be covering your blindside for the home opener. Never talk back to the coach. Take the cocky shit from the black guys that make you look good when they streak down the field. Never be boastful to reporters. Floss. Always be polite to recruiters; treat each like they’re the first. Never smash the mailbox of any of the businessmen who pay for the Friday night lights—and never, ever, fuck one of their daughters, like Charles Ray did; he ended up with a busted knee cap and lost his scholarship to College Station. Try to stay in state. Don’t go double A. Feed Ma’ each morning. Wash her sheets if necessary. Make sure Mrs. Vasquez gets her dinner while you’re at practice. Call Tilson at the end of the month and remind him to send the money he likes to forget about. Stretch. Hit the weight room before lunch, but don’t lose any flexibility in your throwing arm. Slide for first downs. Only dive if the game’s on the line. Don’t get into fights—drunken has-beens, jealous wannabes and jilted boyfriends will always line up to take shots at you. If you get in a fight, take the fucker out quick, but don’t break a knuckle. Avoid knives, unlike your tight end whose spleen was skewered by a border hopping wetback. Don’t pack. A gun for any thing but hunting can land you in a cement box. Cats and jackrabbits are fair game for off-road “Death Race,” but dogs and armadillos are off limits, no matter how drunk you get. Never fumble a snap from center. Always place the ball firmly in the back’s abdomen. Don’t get injured. Never pay for a lap dance at the Vixen Den, unless it’s Daiquiri—aka Cheryl Ann Travis, the head cheerleader when you were a freshman—because there’s usually a complimentary “State Championship” blowjob in it. Don’t stare at Jenny Rodger’s tits at the bowling alley; her brother, a fourth round pick of the Rams, works the bar, carries a snub nose and still thinks she’s a virgin. Never let your opponent back in the game. Never lose. Two losses in a season is a failure, two in a row is the apocalypse: it’s never happened and if it does, nothing else will matter. Tell people they’ve got nothing to worry about when they ask you about the upcoming game with the Freemont Raiders even though they’ll bring up your fourth quarter INT that gave them the game last year. Always outplay your backup in practice. Don’t lose your job. Eat at Skippy Jack’s Drive-in when “Easy” Mary Ellen Henning is waitressing; she was homecoming queen and dated Tilson when he was the starting H-back and throws you a cheeseburger on the house every now and then. Clean Ma’ up when you get home. Study the playbook. Put Ma’ to bed. Do your homework. Look in on Ma’. Study the playbook some more. Get a good night sleep. Get Bs. Don’t get caught cheating. Gas up at Dyson’s; the old man lets you fill up for free so he can reminisce about his son who backed you up on JV, but then dropped out, joined the Army and caught a slug in Iraq. Be grateful to your linemen. Smile to parents when signing autographs for the Pee Wees. Pump fake in the pocket before rolling out. Hope the ‘Horns come through with the full ride before the other bigs put the squeeze on you. Follow up with ‘Tuky and Cal to see if they’re serious about sending you home every other week. Don’t throw over the middle unless you’ve checked off the safety. Put plenty of touch on the ball when leading your speed receivers. Win state. Remember where you came from. Be true to Ma’. Get the fuck out of here.
Scrambling was included in the anthologies; The Year of the Thief, from Thieves Jargon, and Hacks, from Grub Street. Click on the books below for more information.