Friday, February 23, 2007

In praise of the incongruous


Kirby over at I Make No Promises has written a great post about what it’s like to be the sporty one in a marriage, and how happy she is that her son throws like a woman, that is, he throws like her, which is good.

I have been told my whole life that I am a spaz, and since I pretty much sucked at schoolyard games, and since I was also definitely the one whose glasses were the much-coveted knock-off target in dodgeball games, I believed them. It didn’t help that my sister could master any sport, instantly, it seemed. Whereas I could pretty much be counted on to let my teammates down. More often, I was simply never even allowed to play.

My ineptitude continued even into adulthood. A friend once convinced me to give racquetball a try. After I failed to return 15 serves in a row, she turned around and looked at me and said “Seriously?”

Now I shall tell you something really nice about my ex husband.

He was a great lover of the football (and the baseball, and the basketball), and he decided one day that he was going to teach me to toss a football back and forth so that we would have a tolerably activity for him to engage in all those times I dragged his ass to the beach. Oh my god, he hated going to the beach! He would lay on the blanket, smoking and sulking, or sighing and wondering out loud how the Dolphins were doing at that minute.

So first, he taught me to catch a football. Initially, I was extremely flinchy, and would cover my head and duck if the ball came within ten feet of me. Memories of my glasses flying across the gym floor paralyzed me. Gradually, I attempted to catch the ball, but it would bounce off my hands and smart like hell. Every throw to me resulted in a loud “Ow!” and an accusatory stare from me to my husband. But hubby, to his credit, was a patient teacher, and one day he stumbled upon the correct thing to say to me that made me stop being afraid. “Don’t try to stop the ball with your hands,” he said, “try to join your hands to the progress of the ball.” On the very next throw, voila, I caught the ball effortlessly. I stared at it, open-mouthed. It had been so easy.

I have to admit that a football, thrown hard at me, still scares me a little bit, but I always repeat my mantra: “join your hands to the progress of the ball,” and it always helps.

Next, he taught me how to throw the football. I took to it amazingly quickly. I couldn’t believe that I actually had a natural talent for something athletic! My husband started referring to my arm as the “the cannon,” and he would pull me into football-tossing sessions with his friends so he could brag about me. It was cute. I tried to live up to the various claims he made about “the cannon.” I think I did okay.

So my ex is long gone, and my current boyfriend doesn’t even own a football, but to this day I can go years without even touching a football, and then pick one up and throw a tight 30 yard spiral on the first try.

It’s a great talent to have when I find myself feeling like the freaky, smoking, foul-mouthed liberal at a suburban, frat-boy barbecue-type event. Makes people think twice about you, ya know?


Anonymous said...

Hey, thanks for the shout out.

MonstrousJoe said...

Now I know what to say when I need to teach Football Catching!.. Thanks!

Grant Miller said...

An inordinate knowledge of baseball has saved me from many, many suburban, Republican bar-b-ques.

Spooney said...

I've yet to see this throwing talent that you have many times spoken of. I know you can't bowl worth shit, but you're cute when you try.

GETkristiLOVE said...

I've seen the cannon in action - go long!

dad said...

And the time you scored a soccer goal?

michael said...

That's sisters for you: cats and dogs over jukebox heroes one minute, all she's-got-a-lightning-bolt-on-her-shoulder the next. Better than a roller coaster, watching you two.

Anon. Blogger said...

I love this story, Vikkitikitavi! I totally relate to your experience with sports as a kid! I didn't have glasses, but apparently I have a target that only others can see painted on my ass... or where ever a dodge ball is being thrown!

I noticed, however, that I became (only slightly) less spazzy as I got older. Hard saying - is it confidence, a better sense of self, more patience, or you get less emabarased.. but life is more fun now, even with sports involved.

Still don't play cards, tho.

RandyLuvsPaiste said...

"...and my current boyfriend doesn’t even own a football,"

Spooney's da man!

vikkitikkitavi said...

Kirby: No prob. I really liked your post.

MJ: You can't just say it. You really have to mean it.

Grant: Oh, I know EXACTLY what you mean. Being married to a sport stat freak has allowed me to stop conversation many, many times. If you are standing around at one of THOSE events, and the guys are blissfully talking their sports shit and totally ignoring you (which, to me, is actually preferable to being in the kitchen and listening to the woman talk their baby shit and totally ignore you) it is great to be able to, say, declare that Andre Dawson not yet being in the Baseball Hall of Fame is ridiculous, and have the stats at your fingertips to back your argument up.

Spooney: Fuck you.

Kristi: Validation! Thank you!

Dad: Well, I can't really talk about that without also talking about the many times the soccer ball rolled right between my feet, instead of being stopped by my feet.

Michael: I can only guess that you do not have sisters.

AnonB: Maybe it is the decrease in the level of giving a shit that works to decrease the spaz factor.

Randy: I know, right?