Brenda’s Not So Unfortunate Record #38
Apparently I need to up my game, or play the game, or find a game-plan or something like that. It’s what I’ve been told. I’m not a fan. Having spent a lot of the past few months with kids, the only game I’ve really been working on is rounders.
‘Oh my god, you don’t know rounders?!’
Canuckle-head me is staring at the wooden bat and leather gloves. ‘You mean baseball?’
‘Errrrrr no. Rounders. Like every school plays it.’
After some explanation I ascertain that it is indeed like baseball, only you call the pitcher a bowler and in these kids’ case, points are earned at each base, which kinda sounds like some parkside deviation of the real rules. I wonder, but at least when you play with them the score climbs quick.
Back when I was a kid I did a season of softball. It was traumatising. I was one of the youngest on a team called the Wise Owls. Our uniforms were pink which was the part I liked, but the rest of the experience was riddled with anxiety. My skills were minimal and for the most part I was exiled out in the far left-field, very rarely seeing any action which suited me just fine. At bat, I’d almost always strike out or occasionally if the opponent’s pitcher was particularly inept, I’d get to walk but even then, my preferred perch was the bench. The rest of the Owls were pretty good though. Despite Miss Weak Link, we managed to get to the regional finals, up against a much older, more experienced Connoisseur Cards.
The final scene is straight out of a Ron Howard film. Picture this (and I’m not exaggerating):
It’s the bottom of the ninth, two outs and bases loaded. We are down 2 points and guess who’s up to bat? I beg the coach to send someone else. I cry. I don’t wanna go, but rules are rules and batting order’s set in stone. I remember it as though it was yesterday. I make my way up to the cushion & look up at the pitcher. It’s 13 year old Sarah Brothers, who I know from the estate. She’s in secondary school and I’m in 3rd grade. Her team-mates are ecstatic, already shouting, ‘Easy out! Easy out!’. My knees are shaking and my eyes have welled up with tears. Paralysed with fear, I don’t even swing at the first throw.
Our coach barks from the dugout, ‘Come on, Chloé! Don’t be a woose! We can win this!’ The second ball comes flying. I swing and actually hit it, only it flies off behind me.
Last chance. I know David Ricci’s watching from the stands. I’ve had a HUGE crush on him since 1st grade & the thought of him there makes me want to vomit. By this time the tears are hot down my cheeks. The sun goes behind a cloud as the final pitch hurdles towards me. I swing with all my might and woooooooosh …..
’STRIIIIIIIIIIIII-IKE THREE! SHE’S OUT!!!’
Connoisseur Cards erupt in jubilation. As far as I’m concerned, my life is over.
Up until very recently even the thought of partaking in something like this filled me with dread. I’ve been known to chuck balls in the wrong direction, straight at unsuspecting old ladies or directly into oncoming traffic, like basically anywhere that’s not what I’m aiming for. The fear got so bad I’d concoct all sorts of silly excuses to avoid having to throw. As it turns out, seems this was all in my head. It took just one afternoon in the park playing with a ten year old to remind me I did have some basic motor skills. For one, I actually pitch pretty well. And I still remember how to hold a bat and I even managed to hit a few home-runs.
If only Rounders was the game we were referring to, right? But then again, maybe this little story has another narrative. What if it’s not so much about skill and more the willingness to play?