Author: Alvira, Marco

Hard Nosed Family Play
 

9-1. That was the score Friday afternoon as the Cuzzies beat the Ol’ Aunties and Uncles at our post Thanksgiving whiffle ball game at the park. We had 23 family members over for dinner Thanksgiving Day. I had never cooked for that many before. After two turkeys, a honey cured ham, seven side dishes, several salads, seven pies and three days worth of cooking and cleaning, I was ready to blow off some steam and take on all the nieces and nephews in this epic ball game. While the Cuzzies had my son and nephew, college athletes, the rest of the crew was comprised of fourth graders to Kindergarteners. All us geezers had been decent jocks in our day. Except for one brother-in-law, the rest of had stayed active and were in relatively good shape.

The game was tight for a few innings. After the initial shock of how far a fourth grader can really hit the ball, we kept the game close 4-0 after four innings. Perhaps I need to mention here that our family is a baseball family. At the insistence of even the younger kids, we had wrapped the whiffle ball bat and ball in duct tape to give things a little oomph. I had just hit my fourth grade nephew with a pitch. He took a step toward me, gave me the stank eye and then whipped the next pitch far beyond our outfielders —my very slow sisters-in-law. He did a slow trot around the bases, seeing his mom and auntie dawdling to the ball, trying not to slip in the mud. He trashed talked me the entire trip around the bags. (It’s alright. I pegged his little brother in the head the next pitch just to show him what happens when you run your mouth on the field.)

There’s a couple of things a good ball game will show a guy or gal about aging. The first thing is that I didn’t realize that I needed reading glasses for more than the morning newspaper and fly tying. I could see every pitch out of the pitchers hand, but each one seemed to disappear from my sight about a foot from the bat. I figured I was moving my head too much, so I corrected that. I tried swinging easier figuring that the extra effort was causing my head to jerk. Besides, it was making my wrist hurt and my trick knee would ache with each effort. Once upon a time I had been a pretty darned good hitter. I would have really crushed that ball had I ever made contact.

I was counting on my youngest sister-in-law for some production. Of all of us, she had been the best athlete and she was certainly the most youthful being eight years my junior. Indeed, she could whap the bee-jeebies out of the ol’ ball of duct tape and plastic. She couldn't get ten feet down the line however—no matter where she hit it. I later discovered that she needs a hip replacement. And so it went. Eventually, in the last inning without an out, my son and oldest nephew dropped a couple of balls hit their way and we would go on to score a run. The moment we started high-fiving and chanting “come-back,” dropped balls turned into sure handed over the shoulder grabs and the game was over. One of my youngest nephews (7 years old) swaggered up to me, his shoulders pulled back and chest sticking out, and chided, “We were just warming-up.”

“Ya,” I retorted, “we just let you losers win so you wouldn’t cry.” You have to be thick skinned to survive in our family.

On the walk back home, we gave the big kids money to take the little kids for ice cream. We adults dragged ourselves through the door. My kin folk hit the medicine cabinet with the Advil like Walmart shoppers surrounding a cheap Blue-ray player on Black Friday. After some Thanksgiving leftovers, we all dozed off for a nap in the living room while the T.V. softly played a college game to an oblivious audience. What’s the second thing that a good ball game will teach a guy about aging? Our bodies cannot escape the effects of time and gravity. Too often, aging is about remembering all the great Thanksgiving Days and events of the past. The key youthfulness, however, is about living for the great Thanksgiving of today and those yet to be made.


 
Posted:  12/1/2013



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