softball III

Game day arrives. And so do we to a nearby public school diamond. Our spirits are high. The secretaries bring drinks, peanuts, crackerjacks, and fill the bleachers with cheers. We warm up. We have partners, attorneys, clerks, accountants. The other team arrives, boisterous and slightly younger.

5:30pm. Our team takes the field. I take the mound. I stop and think, Hm, this mound is a bit farther than it was in practice. I pause. The batter takes practice swings. I look behind me; my team looks back at me. I turn to the bleachers; they cheer my name. I pause again. Nothing happens unless I start. ohmigod ohmigod ohmigod, i am literally, geographically, thematically the center of this game. all eyes are on me, a giant burning ball of attention on my back. what the fuck am i doing on this field i have never played on a baseball field in my life i have no business playing any team sport let alone this one.

I gulp and let a pitch fly. Wild pitch. Another pitch: way overhead. Another one: bounces on the ground. Another, overhead. Way outside. High. Outside. Beans the batter. Actually. beans. the. batter. holy fuck this is still the first batter.

I try to dispel the tension. “Heh heh I think I could use a beer, ” I call out. Chuckles abound. yes yes a beer joke. everyone likes those. “Must be my nerves. Heh heh.”

One pitch finally goes over the plate. Hit. Batter takes a base and a new batter approaches. More wild pitches. The crowd quiets. They must realize that, holy shit, this isn’t a joke, this fucker cannot pitch underhand over 10 feet. Partner Coach realizes something must be done.

“Kathy!”

He calls out a secretary in the bleachers.

“Feel like pitching?”

“Sure!” she chirps back, grabs a mitt, and replaces me on the mound.

“Hey, don’t worry, [crab], you can still bat later.”

And there I am, at 5:40 pm, sitting alone on the bench.

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