After a layoff that seemed to stretch for longer than a month-and-a-half, the Wrecking Crew returned to Monday nights. We got wrecked. It was a close game at first, but eventually, our defensive inefficiencies caught up to us. I would like to take partial responsibility for playing a grounder off the hip, being surprised at how fast the ball moved, then swearing as I watched it roll into the outfield. If only my physical reflexes were as quick as my f-bomb reflexes, I’d test off the charts. Cat-like. I went 2-2 with a walk and an RBI at the plate, but was nothing short of dreadful in the field.
While it’s true that I lament any lengthy break from softball, the Thanksgiving-New Year’s stretch is by far the worst. It is a period of inactivity – other than shopping – made exponentially worse by the amount of food I eat during the holidays.
I have to hold my breath to tie my shoes. My pre-game stretching routine gets longer and longer. It’s like a a gifted story teller (or English teacher) who is charged with giving the same lecture on Macbeth three times a day: new ideas keep getting tacked on to the original lecture and it just grows from there.
In Major League Baseball’s PED era, it was not uncommon for players to show up for Spring Training having gained some fifteen pounds of muscle. Well, in an homage to that epoch of baseball history, I showed up to CORP last night with an extra 10 pounds of holiday weight and rust. Like I said, this picture is about as close to what I looked like and was attempting to do without being an actual picture of me.
As I began to warm up last night, I could tell things probably weren’t going to get better. You know how if you’re cleaning, sometimes you find an old game platform or computer, then for the twin sakes of nostalgia and curiosity, you decide to power it up? So you hear that hum which means it’s sucking power, but the screen is still black, but you don’t assume that it’ll work yet because aside from that murmur of electricity, there are no visible signs of life. Then the screen comes on, you’re all “Hey!” And then you realize that you haven’t really thought out what you’d actually do if it worked, so then you spend another 15 minutes looking for a game or program to use? Well, again, metaphorically, that’s what I did last night. As soon as I threw the first ball, I knew there was going to be trouble. My shoulder was balky.
I hoped that if I stretched it and warmed up slowly, it would get better. It’s like powering up that old N64 in hopes of playing GoldenEye, being excited because you get the game’s home screen, but then realizing you can’t get past the initial menu. So you reset. You power down, re-power up. You blow into the cartridge. You speak to the system as you would your girlfriend or wife or what have you. But nothing works. And then you play the game hoping no one hits a ball at you which would require you to make the throw from third to first because deep down, you’re not sure if you can. Well, I solved that problem by not fielding either of the two balls hit at me cleanly. FUCK!
So we lost and I played horribly. But apparently, that wasn’t enough for the softball gods. After I showered up I got into bed and my lower back started barking. I thought I could ignore it and sleep through it, but, um, that would have required me to actually fall asleep. Dummy.
So after 15 minutes of trying to ignore it (aka avoid getting out of bed), I walked to the bathroom, bombed some pain killer, then humbly walked to Madison’s room. “Lynnette…” “What?” “I can’t sleep.” “Why?” “My back hurts.” “So what?” “Can you help me put something on it?” As she always does in these circumstances, Lynnette grunted/sighed/groaned as she got out of bed. I don’t blame her. She escorted me into the bedroom.
She put some Tiger Balm on my back. “I will reward you handsomely if you continue to do this for five more minutes,” I said. She did not reply and walked away. There was some rustling coming from the bathroom. Then, Madison shouted “Mom, come back!” from her room. “I’m looking for something to put on daddy’s back,” Lynnette replied. In a few moments, I heard soft footsteps on the carpet, followed by softer, quicker, four-legged footsteps. Party in the bedroom.
“What’s wrong, dad?” Madison said. “My back hurts.” “Oh, I think your back is trying to tell you that your back has too many pimples,” she said, matter-of-factly. Great. “Is it now?” I asked. “Yeah.” “Well, how many pimples are back there?” Silence. “Only two, dad. I was just kidding.” “That’s great, Mad. Thanks.” “You’re welcome, dad.” You’d think that living with me for her entire life would have honed her sarcasm-o-meter.
Lynnette found a heat patch. “It says ‘do not put on skin, only on clothes,'” she said. Lynnette dutifully affixed the patch to the inside of my boxers. Bad news: this is as close to wearing a pad that I have ever come. My inherently low testosterone levels ebbed further. Worse news: 10 minutes in, the patch did not heat up. “It’s not working,” I called into the darkness. Lynnette – with tone tinged with a mixture of hatred, anger, and irritation- said, “JUST GIVE IT TIME. IT DOESN’T EXPIRE UNTIL 2014.” We have a lot of things past their expiration date lying around our house. Luckily, though, I drifted off to sleep on my right side.
Sometime later, I rolled onto my back and was awakened by a warm sensation on my lower back. I wanted to shout “It works!” but it was either really late or really early. So I simply basked in the warmth until I fell asleep again.
This story literally does not have a happy ending. I had a dream that Lynnette and I went to this massage parlor – it wasn’t a spa, as indicated by the full-color pamphlet of bikini-clad women you could choose as your masseuse- in town. We were signing in when the guy from The Mentalist showed up and there was an FBI-like sting on the establishment. I woke up. So I didn’t get a massage in real life or in dream life. I was kind of bummed. But then I looked at the clock and it three minutes before my alarm would have gone off and then I was really bummed.