So the first game was a couple of weeks ago. We batted first, and when I got up to bat, I really wanted to make that ball fly. I swung as hard as I could and the ball flew… straight into the pitcher’s mit. Seriously, the dude didn’t even move; the ball just went straight into his mit. At least I didn’t have to run.
The next time I got up to bat, I bopped it right over the infield and I made it to first. I don’t know what really happened next. I don’t know who batted next and whether they got out or not. You see, I am so out of shape that all I could do was breathe in – breathe out – and try not to pass out and all this was just from the run to first. None of this seems right. I have been exercising almost every day for almost 6 months: 30 minutes on an elliptical or exercise bike daily. I guess the smooth movements of exercise “equipment” doesn’t really prepare a guy for an all-out sprint from home to first with all of the flailing arms and flying spittle and whatnot… nor was I prepared for what followed.
The next thing I remember is our stinking coach getting up to bat. I think that at this point I’m on second, but I could be mistaken; everything is fuzzy and I find myself breathing heavy just trying to remember! Our coach is a young dude… early twenty-something, just out of college, freshly engaged to be married, still probably thinks life is going to be fair (and given these negatives, I still like him) and he can run like greased lightening (and I don’t even know what greased lightening is but I think it has something to do with John Travolta and Olivia Newton John and I’m assuming it’s really fast!) So he hits it deep into the outfield and I start sprinting. Before I get to third, I can hear Coach round second behind me! You’ve got to be kidding… when did I turn into the slow old guy?!? I struggle around third and sprint for home. The ball is still out in the outfield and I could have let up a little, but I don’t want Coach behind me to have to hold up at a base just because the old guy is in front of him (I used to get upset when an old dude held me up in my base running… and now I’m the old guy) is limping along. I hit home and try to stop. I can’t stop. I run straight into the chain-link fence behind home and steady myself. My lungs are on fire, my legs are burning, and the cheering hourd on the otherside of the fence is fading in and out of focus (ok, there are like two ladies cheering from our church, but “cheering hourd” sounds cooler than “couple of ladies”). I stumble back to the dugout, yearning to place my rear on the bench for a couple of minutes. Suddenly, someone hands me my glove and says, “We’re in the field.” Apparently the next batter had no respect for the elderly and got out immediately… stupid whipper-snapper.
So, the rest of the game is a blur because I never really got a chance to catch my breath. I am relatively certain that an inordinate amount of brain cells died that evening due to a lack of oxygen. My wife and two boys had watched the game (which we won) and waited for me after the game.
“How do you feel?” my wife asked.
“I feel great,” I lied.
“You looked great out there,” she lied.
The walk back to the car was painful, but I tried to walk as normal as possible. I couldn’t let my family know that their husband and father was really a semi-pathetic geezer who is too old to play softball.
A week passed until our next game. During that week, I was a little sore but never felt like total crap. When the second game rolled around, I thought I was ready. I was mistaken.
Before the game, I started stretching. Something didn’t feel right. My thighs started to semi-cramp. ‘No big deal,’ I thought to myself, ‘just stretch it out.’ So I stretched and I stretched and I stretched some more. By the time we were ready to play, I’m thinking that I’ve got to have about the most stretched muscles in the WORLD (or at least at the Carpenter Center’s Church League Softball games for the night).
We start playing and everything seems just fine. I get up to bat and I smack that silly ball right between the 1st and 2nd basemen. I start my sprint to first, and I think aliens may have temporarily taken my thigh muscles… seriously, it’s like they were not there! You have no idea how important your thigh muscles are to your ability to run until STUPID ALIENS TAKE THEM! I had no power to run! I couldn’t sprint, I couldn’t run, I couldn’t even jog; I think “mosey” may be the only word that can possibly describe my jaunt from home to first. And the crazy thing is, I was safe!
Ok, so now I’m freaking out. I’m miraculously on first base and must be prepared to make it to second if the batter behind me hits it. With my thighs missing, I’m trying to figure out a way to make that happen. I reach down and feel my legs where my thighs should be and my fingers are greeted with cries of pain from my thighs! Stupid aliens somehow put them back, but they must have put ’em in upside down or something because they most definitely do not feel right! Sharp, shooting pain is flickering across the surface of my thighs like someone lit a sting of Balck Cats on my thigh on the Fourth of July. My thighs are starting to cramp so I’m standing there on first base pulling my foot up to my butt on one leg and then another trying to stretch out the alien evil from my legs when the gal batting behind me hits one right between short and third! CRAP! I start my limp/hop/mosey toward second as fast as I can when I feel a small fire starting right between my legs in an area where fire, no matter how small, is most unwelcome! I glance to where the ball is: an outfielder is winding up to chuck it to second. I know that if I push just a little harder, I will beat the throw. I know that if I push just a little harder, the fire between my legs will stretch into a full-blown inferno and I will be safe at second with the prospect of finding a way to third with a pulled groin safely beside me! My mosey slows to a … I don’t even know what’s slower than a mosey, but I found it, and I watched my impending out come to fruition as my foot hit the base less than a second after the ball hit the glove of the opponent already on the base… but my groin remained un-pulled:)
“Waddle”… that’s it… that’s what’s slower than mosey, because “waddle” is what I did back to the dugout. “Waddle” is what I did through the short amount of game I was forced to play through before someone younger and stronger than me who didn’t move about like a STINKING DUCK took my place!
So, as I’m sitting on the bench watching our team painfully lose a game we come relatively close to winning, every stinking muscle in my body is screaming at me. It’s as if last week, my muscles gave me a break, you know?
“What’s this idiot doing running around and crap, ” my thighs said. “Does he not realize we’re all too old for this?”
“It’s delusions of grandeur,” replied my bicep. “Let’s give him his last moment of glory without making him look like a total boob. After he makes himself look semi-tarded tonight, he’ll never want to do this again.”
Of course, my muscles didn’t realize that I’m not the brightest bulb in the chandelier. My muscles didn’t realize that by showing me mercy, they were inadvertently increasing my confidence! When the second game rolled around and there I was trying to push my stupid muscles to the limit… the muscles pushed back!
“Ok, this jerk isn’t getting it,” screamed the muscles in my back.
“Let’s show this idiot what’s what,” my thighs demanded.
“All together now,” hollered every single muscle in my body in unison, “GIVE OUT!”
…and they did.
If I had a tail, it would have definitely been between my legs as I limped home. Upon entering the house, my wife asked, “How did it go?”
“We lost,” I replied.
“Too bad,” she said. “How do you feel.”
Now, my wife had warned me that this would happen… I was going to hurt myself. Although I was more incredibly sore than anything, my pride was hurting like it never has before. “I feel fine,” I smiled. And I just stood in the dining room, not moving… not wanting my wife to see me limp.
“Good,” she replied. When she turned around and started back into the kitchen, I slowly trudged toward the bedroom. She turned around and faced me again, and I froze. Her confused expression started to slowly morph to recognition. I stood like a statue and smiled my idiotic smile.
“Are you sure you’re ok?” she asked, a small grin starting to form at the corners of her lips.
I was not at a point where I could deal with an I-told-you-so, so I continued to hold perfectly still and smile. “Never felt better.”
“Ok,” she smiled and again turned into the kitchen.
Once she disappeared from sight, I waddled into the bedroom with every intention of taking a nice hot bath. However, once I made it to the foot of the bed, my muscles were screaming with ear-splitting intensity and I collapsed into a pile on my stomach on the bed, and I knew I would not be getting up anytime soon… and then I heard my wife’s footsteps as she entered the room!
“Just… uh… just taking a little breather,” I said, beating her to the punch and hoping that would be enough to get her to turn around and leave the room while I struggled to obtain an upright position once again.
The footsteps got closer.
As she sat at the foot of the bed by my legs, my body rolled slightly toward her and I think I may have squealed ever so slightly like a little girl from the pain.
Then her hands were on my back, rubbing out many of the small knots that had accumulated throughout not only the night but the past week. As the muscles in my back began to release me from their painful grip, her hands moved down to my legs and those muscles too soon gave up their punishing intentions.
When her hands stopped, I muttered a “Thanks.”
“You’re welcome,” she said. No “I told you so”, no “are you ready to quit”, nothing negative at all… just “you’re welcome.” And then, “What time is your game next week? I think me and the boys would like to watch another game.”
So, tonight is game # 3. My body is feeling pretty good, my family is behind me, I’m representing my Church in a league where sportsmanship usually (but not always) takes precedence over winning and I’m having some fun. I may have to pick up some cleats at one of the local sporting goods stores when they put them on clearance in another week or two. I figure I’ll be able to run the bases better next year if I’m in cleats. 😉