I am not an athletic person. I don’t play soccer, I’ve never played ice hockey, I don’t exactly know what the hell “ringette” or “lacrosse” are, and I think I’m supposed to as a Canadian citizen.
My sister’s co-ed softball team has been scouting for ‘talent’ to fill some vacancies in the upcoming season’s line-up. Finding none, they were then seeking ‘experienced’ players. Failing THAT, she approached me about it. Being unsportsmanlike, I wanted to clear up some probable misconceptions before accepting the spot.
“Refresh my memory. Do people chase you around the bases?”
“You run from base to base after hitting a ball with a heavy stick.”
“Oh. I’ve only ever run when someone was chasing me. And only then when I didn’t have a shiv in my pocket.”
“I can probably arrange to have someone shout obscenities at you if you think that will help.”
“I’m pretty sure that’ll happen organically.”
She went on to explain that I would need to buy a mitt, a pair of cleats, and a good sports bra. Bra shopping itself is enough to warrant my refusal. The last time I went into a bra store, I cried so hard that a 25-year-old clerk with boobs like August apples had to pat my arm and console me. “There, there… I know it’s hard for ladies with your shape to get good bras. You’re built just like my mother. She has to go to Toronto to buy used rubber belting down at the docks. I bet I can find out the secret password for you…”
I can’t talk about what happened after that until I receive written permission from my lawyer. But I want it noted here that I did send the girl a ‘get well soon’ card with a $5 Starbucks gift card. (And there was at least $1.40 left on the card.)
PM seemed surprised that I had signed on to play softball.
“You’re really going to play? With your sister?”
“Yes! Why? It’s a mixed league, so you’re playing, too. What’s the problem? Why is your face sweaty?”
“It’s just…I’m not…But you…and she…this cannot end well.”
“What are you talking about?”
“The problem you have with…the way you guys…”
“Jeni, you’ve got some issues. With competition.” In a quiet voice he added, “And athletic skill.”
I assured him I had no idea what he was talking about.
He was on a roll now. “Are you serious? How many drumsticks have we gone through playing Rockband? Then there was the time we played golf with my neighbour, who STILL won’t look me in the face, by the way. And what about the “friendly” game of beach badminton when we were camping last year? Someone put a raccoon in our car afterwards and YOU MADE A NUN CRY.”
Sadly, some of this is true. I am the worst of teammates: woefully unskilled, fiercely competitive, and with an enviable cursing vocabulary. But that nun had it coming.
PM continued to stare at me, but I wouldn’t avert his gaze. (I’m COMPETITIVE, remember?)
I made cobra fangs with my fingers to indicate my ferocity and finally he broke away. “Fine. I’ll play. Who is our sponsor? And what’s the team name?”
I told him which bar was sponsoring us, and our name: “Wasted Talent.”
“Fitting. Does the bar serve Guinness on tap?
“Yes. Oh! And apparently they make the best margaritas in town. K says they’re served in two sizes; the “Requires-two-to-lift” tumbler and the “You-Can-Come-Back-For-Your-Pants-Later” bucket.
PM knew he was beat. He let go a sigh heavy with resignation. It fell to the floor and formed a dull puddle along with his will to live. He walked away but I heard him mumbling.
“This has ‘police blotter’ written all over it.”