("You'll never be a man, George. You'll always be just a little boy.")

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Danny's Obstacle Course

george harold fulks, February 8, 2011/ Ft. Lauderdale

The winter in a sub-tropical climate seemed to be just the right choice for Danny O'Pool. Davie would provide a wonderful setting for getting out the walking shoes and making that four miles each day as the physician recommended. For several days, a daily program of exercise was working out well. There were deep knee bends, pushups, jumping jacks, hamstring stretchers, and time at a swimming pool among many others. Danny, the seventy year old strong man, was ready to join the Packers versus Steelers.

As Danny O'Pool had often done, the Steelers quarterback blamed himself for his team's loss. Danny had watched that game and commented to his son-in-law: "I don't feel that way at all, Pete. Football is a team sport. I saw men drop footballs they should have caught and blocks thrown that didn't work. You also have to remember that some of the players might have broken training rules the night before. Both teams were surely fatigued from the night before and the long day before that game was played. It wasn't the quarterback that lost the game for the Steelers. It was Green Bay that caused the Steelers to lose."

After a week or so, Danny noticed something odd occurring in Ft. Lauderdale. Other people began to visit. For the longest of time, an aircraft flew over every minute with people from the snowy and icy North. Surprisingly, many were Mid-westerners still dressed in snow gear. Children, grandmothers, and grandfathers were sitting in restaurants. The children should have been in school somewhere. Their grandmothers and grandfathers had coaxed their way into Florida residential quarters. Point to make is that the presence of so many others in Davie frightened Danny, a seventy year old, out of his plans to walk four miles every day and play in the Super Bowl. If things had worked-out right, the Steelers might have won that game. Danny O'Pool can run through lines of elephants, intercept passes and catch them, and block three Packers during any one play. The Steelers quarterback did not lose that game. It was my fault.

Things began to occur that forced Danny to end the most important part of his physical conditioning program-walking. First was a two and one-half hour ride on a free shuttle bus. Anyone can reach their planned destination in that way, but the bus stops at every possible site, visits every shopping center and sub-division between the place of boarding and the sub-station. From there, the casino toward which Danny was headed was four miles North with dozens of stops along the way. It's difficult for an old man to go that way.

During the second week, the old man was walking one-quarter-mile toward a shopping center. Another man walking that sidewalk and leading a pit bulldog on its lease was approaching. There was something wrong with the man- his eyes glazed. The pit bulldog seemed alright, but the dog owner showed no mental awareness as he seemed to stare strangely into some space far away. Bicycles began to merge in small clusters from different directions making necessary that Danny step aside onto grass and allow them to pass by. Soon Danny O'Pool began to feel as if he were back home again . For the old man, walking that one-quarter-mile walk became spooky, and he ended that part of his exercise program.

Overhearing whispers from football players- former and present, that sense remains excellent. Danny heard one say:"That old man can't play football. He just thinks he can." That causes Danny's neck muscle and left ear to start jerking and his face to turn beet red. Imaging then begins, and Danny O'Pool is once more Walter Mitty; this time rushing into battle at Iwo Jima and returning home as a hero. "Through some miracle, the enemy never hit me, Susan." Then Danny kissed Susan, and the two sat on her daddy and mother's porch swing; listening to Ernie Ford sing "Tennessee Waltz." The war was over. Danny O'Pool and Susan would not be married. They'd just be together again.

An airline ticket to St. Louis is for one-way return trip. Pete and Kristal stand in eager anticipation.

The Packers- Steelers Super Bowl is past history. Danny was not on the Steelers roster that night. That's why they lost the game.

The End..The American People..With Some Exclusions

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