Thursday, August 2, 2007
hand me a ball and I'll beg you for a helmet. too many times I have caught a ball with my nose while my gloved hand blindly grasped at the air. put me in a field and I am a flailing mathematician who hasn't studied for the eye-hand coordinates pop quiz. a page of numbers, meaningless. my limbs are left helpless, there is no communication where flying objects are concerned.
as a child I gave my try at baseball. I longingly watched what was happening all around me; friendships forming, victory being tasted, fun being had by all, expect me, who would wait in the outfield praying to the god of awkward childhoods, please please please, send that ball anywhere but here. let this patch of browning green be my sanctuary. please grant me the friendship and spare me the pain. but then I'd hear the successful crack of ball on bat and every scrawny inch of me would beg for the womb and its fetal protection. the screaming of teammates was deafening. the scorching sun blinding. I'd scrunch up my face and stick out my arm and ask the god, who had thus far proven a traitor, to at least guide the soaring ball away from the delicate bones of my face and towards the untouched leather of my glove. time would stand still and then I'd hear the thump of the ball on the earth and the moaning of my teammates grabbing at their heads in frustration. I'd release the buzzing oxygen from my lungs, find the neglected ball and throw it as far away from me as I could. for me it was a small victory, no blood, no stitches, but for my teammates it was the disappointment they had come to expect from me. Eventually, I realized that no friendship was worth the anxiety of being an imposture. I offered my glove up at the sacrificial church sale and said goodbye to baseball.
so given my history in the sports hall of shame, how unexpected that I am now opening my heart back up to the thing that once broke it. thanks to the constant inspiration of my pal skl, I am learning the fine art of being a sports fan. flanked by smiling friends, I am falling in love with baseball from the bleachers. the dodgers stadium is becoming my second home. my idea of fun is now synonymous with $12 beers and the crunching of peanut shells. give me a blue foam finger and I will shake the shit out of it. I can't get enough of the night air at dizzying heights from the cheap seats. less than a movie ticket to get high off a home run. the glittering of lights, the clapping of hands. one giant romance taking place. strangers sharing the intimacy of hope. in the moment it is that simple. everyone in love with the moment and nothing else.
the god of awkward childhoods taught me my lesson and now I am rewarded for faithfully following my heart. and now my heart sings, "take me out to the ball game, take me out with the crowd!"