A while back, I got a text from a mom-friend who was organizing a game of kickball* in honor of her man’s birthday. At the time, having not played kickball since grade school, I could think of no more fun way to spend a Monday night. Night of, I pull on my Vans, grab the girls, and we walk over to the baseball field behind the middle school, making a pitstop for Stella Cidre along the way. Everything’s coming up roses.
We get there, and there are a dozen collected couples and a few dogs and kiddos milling about on the grass under a perfect blue sky on a rare 76 degree day. Glorious.
I take a moment to register that most of the couples are on the younger side of me. Musicians, you know. I’m not worried though, because half of them are wearing skinny jeans and the hostess has ballet flats. This’ll just be a nice, chill game of the kick ball, I think.
I drink a Cidre. Thus far, I’m the only one drinking, but I have faith. We break up into teams. This is when I realize that all the lovely girlfriends and wives, so sportily dressed, are just there to hang out and chat.
The only girl besides the hostess who’s still standing up for teamification is my Irish friend who has no idea what the hell this game actually IS and why people keep comparing it to Baseball, another baffling game. She is looking for an excuse to bail but I swear to God I will trip her if she takes one step.
My gift and my curse is a history of natural athleticism combined with blind competitive drive and, apparently, amnesia. Also there is a touch of rage in my blood as evidenced by my cut from a lacrosse team for “overly aggressive use of my stick…” (heh heh, stick joke for a girl? WIN!)
As I take third base, a nice boost of adrenaline merrily wipes away logical thought and the last ten years of no physical activity whatsoever (besides giving birth to and chasing around small people.) I am as the golden retriever, and my only thought is “ball!”.
Naturally it’s not long before the unfamiliar sensation of “sweating” is starting and my heart is reaching dangerous, desperate speeds, and I’m remembering that I forgot to ask my doctor if I was healthy enough for physical activity. Then someone marvels at my speed and I decide to power through.
It’s halfway between second and third base that I see the ball get caught just past me and, instinctively, do a quick brake and turn to head back to second. Well, that’s what my brain does. My body just utterly fails and my leg gives out beneath me like it’s made of cooked spaghetti.
“Ow.” That’s the third out, so I get helped to my feet and limp over to my position at third base. I mean, first I grab a beer…obviously. The pain does not subside, much.
Next inning, I get a good kick in and start hauling ass to first base when my foot hits a hole and I go down like a ninja…a drunk ninja who’s been hogtied. I stumble/roll to first.
The first baseman gapes at me.”Are you okay?” He asks.
“Fuck you, give me a cortisone shot, tape me up and I will CRUSH you guys.” Lawrence Taylor becomes my spirit guide. The inning after, I’m forced to concede defeat. I am broken. I will remain broken for weeks to come. I will learn what a hip flexer is. There is not enough Advil in the world.
But for now, I am my mother. Her catch phrase echoes in my head: “Hold my beach wine, I got this.”
Everybody begins to pack up as I lay sprawled in the grass. I just need, like, ten minutes and I’ll be back in action. “You cowards, this ain’t over!” I yell. “I know where you live!” I curse. “Also, someone’s gonna carry me to the after-party, right? RIGHT?
My daughter brings me a bottled water. “Can we go to the playground now?”