I hated softball as a kid. Hated it. But my mom is a big Title IX fan and my dad wanted me to play so I did. Aside from one minor moment of glory (during which I slid head first into home plate thus incurring a small battle scar on my knee, which remains my one and only to this day) I spent the majority of junior high praying for my games to get rained out. I was already doing dance, and Youth Group and 4-H and voice lessons. Can you blame me for feeling a bit over scheduled???
When I finally called it quits though, my dad gave me his blessing. When I was born (and began exhibiting definite left handed tendencies at a very early age) he thought I might become the first woman to play for the major leagues (and, being left handed, that I could play first base for the Mets). Once it became apparent, however, that competitive sports were not my thing, he relented and told me, “I only wanted you to get good enough to play a pick up game when you get to college and not look like an idiot.”
He didn’t plan on my selecting the least sporty college in the history of the world. They had to bribe us to go to basketball games by promising pizza to the dorm with the highest attendance. There was, however, a wiffleball club and being the liberal arts students we were, we took things very seriously. We had a water officer, a safety officer, someone in charge of ordering t-shirts and someone else in charge of storing the equipment. It was all very democratic and I loved it. Playing wiffleball out there on the quad was the one time I felt like a normal college student (as opposed to the socially awkward, perpetually stressed overachiever).
One day, during parents weekend, the wiffleball club had a match. My folks were there and my dad, thrilled to see that all those of years of softball had finally paid off, decided to head back the car to get some folding chairs for him and my mom. By the time he returned, however, the game was over. A batter had accidentally swung right into the catcher’s face so the safety officer called the game. We all signed the bat with permanent markers and buried it in the volleyball court to commemorate the tragedy.
“That’s it?” My dad cried. “Suck it up! Walk it off!!!” But we were done for the day.
As such, you can imagine his shock when I announced last week that PIC and I are joining at softball league at the park near my house.
“You hated softball” my mother reminded me. “And when do you have the time?”
But my dad is thrilled. He’s even offering to come along “just in case the team needs an extra player.”
I’ve already told him no. Several times. But I will say this: I’m glad I learned to play, and I’m glad I don’t look like a spaz when I’m up to bat and I’m actually really looking forward to getting my mitt out of the closet. I’ve taken a leave of absence from my tap company on account of my stress fractures and while my foot isn’t good enough to dance, it is good enough to make the occasional loop round the bases.
I have of course joined the lowest level of teams: the “recreational” level where you don’t ever have to go to practices and most games end up, or so I’m told, at the local bar.
If only my junior high games had ended the same way. I might have stuck around.