First, before I forget … new book reviews up at Compulsive Overreader! Go check ‘em out!!
Now: About softball. Today was our annual Murphy Centre year-end softball game, staff and participant, everyone out having a good time batting at the old pigskin. No, wait — the old pigskin is another game. Soccer? Lacrosse? Something else, anyway. We were playing softball — you know, the one that’s like baseball, only the ball is bigger, so there’s a slightly better chance of getting hit by it.
Our backup plan, if it rained, was to go bowling. I would have preferred bowling. For me, sports are divided into two categories: sports I’m bad at and hate, versus sports I’m bad at but enjoy. Bowling is in the latter category. I will go bowling anytime I’m asked, and will lob countless gutter balls with tremendous verve and enthusiasm. I never get any better, but I always have a good time.
Softball is … a whole other thing.
As a young person I sometimes found myself in situations where there was no other choice but to play softball — school sports days, for example, or Fun Youth Group Activities. Such situations were always sheer torture. The odds of me ever coming anywhere close to hitting the ball when I was at bat were astronomically low. On the two occasions I ever did connect with the ball, I was so startled I forgot to drop the bat and run. As a result, my teammates (to use the term loosely) were always unhappy when I was up to bat, to the extent that they would sometimes “forget” it was my turn. This was fine with me.
Where I really shone was in the outfield. The way-out field, which was where they made me play — so far away the pitcher and batter looked like ants, so far away that the odds against a ball ever coming my way were, again, astronomical.
When I say I “shone” in this position, what I mean is that in the way-out-field, I could sometimes forget I was playing softball for long periods of time. I could sit down, stare at the blue sky and the green grass and feel one with nature, compose poetry and novel plots in my head, daydream about the cute guys who were pitching and batting and how much I’d enjoy watching them if only I could see home base from where I sat.
Occasionally, my reverie was interrupted. Very rarely, a well-hit ball (usually hit by one of the aforementioned Cute Guys) would come sailing past second base, past the infield, past the real outfielders, way, way out — and begin dropping directly towards my head. I would cower in terror, my otherwise-useless glove suddenly useful as a makeshift shelter. I would pray the ball would not hit me and end my future brilliant career by rendering me brain-dead at the age of fourteen. Then the ball would drop to the grass three feet away, and everyone would begin screaming at me.
After high school, there was a nice long interval where I didn’t have to go near a softball game for years. Then, as a teacher, I began attending softball games as part of year-end festivities with my students. Here I discovered one of the great joys of being an adult: saying “No, I don’t do that.”
These days, I sit on the bleachers just off to the side of home plate. It’s a lot like way-out-field used to be. I get to daydream, stare at the sky and the grass, outline novels in my head. It has two big advantages: I have a better view of the Cute Guys, and nobody ever yells at me.
Adulthood. You gotta love it.
I should add that the more sportsmanlike members of the Murphy Centre community — Cute Guys and Cute Girls alike — had a good game today, despite chilly breezes that made it a little uncomfortable for us spectators. I’ve included a couple of photos, because taking pictures is another thing you can do when nobody’s forcing you to play.