The other day, Cal asked me if I wanted to go to the park and play catch. Play catch? Yep, play catch. He pulled out two leather baseball mits and also had two baseballs. We all keep this kind of gear, I just obviously lost mine. I love spontaneous ideas at a convenient time when I am prepared for spontaneity, so I said, “Yes! I haven’t played catch since I was about 10”.
Actually, my Dad bought me a small baseball bat, baseball and mit when I was about 9, I think it was for Christmas. It was a sweet way of saying, “Lloyd I know you hate soccer, but maybe another sport that I have randomly chosen, will be enjoyable for you.”. I did embrace it for the two week family trip after Christmas to Lake Tabourie Caravan park, then I dropped the ball. Figuratively of course, though probably literally too.
So Cal and I walked to the park, Cal in gym shorts and a shirt and runners, I was in good jeans and a collared shirt (assuming that this activity wouldn’t be too strenuous and due to how spontaneous this baseball practice was). We found a small park that was deserted, ticking my box of reducing possible embarrassment that my curve ball at age 10 wasn’t as good at age 27.
I was handed one of the mits and I casually placed it on my hand, though my thumb did not fit into the pinky part, wrong hand. Put it on the other hand just as casually and struggled to work out how my thumb was to be involved with this glove. Obviously my smooth actions did not deceive Cal and he helped me find the spot to put my thumb. Now I sound kinda stupid, after rereading that sentence. I am Australian, we do not have a need for these gloves. Cricket, Football and Rhythmic Gymnastics do not involve gloves of this style. So to be fair, it was like learning to be a lobster.
We both took paces away from each other and the first ball was thrown. He could have been a bit gentle, maybe an underarm throw? No, I did not catch it. My opening and closing of the glove constantly did not improve my skill. I threw it back and he caught it. Yes, because he is American and all they do when they are kids is throw balls with their fathers and have long chats at sunset while their Mom makes lemonade and brings out a plate of Oreos. Bad for your health. If this was cricket, I would at least be able to shout out random cries like, “Howzatt!!”. He through it a bit better this time and it rolled along the ground and I scooped it up for a bit then it fell out of my glove. Why am I telling you this story? Gay man cannot catch, tell the press? So this continued for a while and then I began to get it. Don’t close the glove UNTIL the ball is in the glove. As soon as I caught it a few times in a row, I thought I was a pro! Cal began asking me why I was throwing it weird. Weird??! I was throwing it like a pro with a side step.
I have a pretty short attention span sometimes, and if there is no game involved, I begin to get bored. Here is where some advice comes in, freely given to you from myself. Do not tune out while playing catch. Do not allow your mind to let your new hand-eye coordination go into auto pilot too soon. Why? Because while you are thinking about how many rocks it would take to make a BBQ next to the swings beside me, the ball comes towards you and surprisingly your pro ball skills do not kick in. Mit misses ball. Ball hits you on the nose. Mit drops to ground. Hands go up to nose. Slight moan kicks in. Then of all images to flash into my brain, I have Marcia Brady saying, “Ow, my nose!”. I know how she feels!! I finally have a moment that connects me with her. She was always the eldest girl of the 1970’s TV sitcom that I never really understood. Now I did.
Cal was there, asking if I was OK. Somehow in that moment, I walked in a circle and then pathetically fell into the ground. Not onto the ground, kinda into it. So of course that kind of show should mean Cal would expect to see blood coming out of my face, whether out of my nose, mouth, ear or eye or just all of the above. Nah, I was just still thinking of Marcia Brady and whether I would have a big bruised nose and everyone would laugh at how I got the injury. Nah, none of that. Just a sore nose. No evidence physically, Cal kinda chuckled and said I would be OK.
Cal then insisted I keep playing, so I have no connotations with the ball being evil. I bravely put my mit on again and prepared myself for the onslaught that was the baseball. I caught it, threw it back, caught it. OK, time to go home.