If you’ve ever been curious as to what those people who post political rants all the time on social media are doing in their spare – non hysterical the world is going to end if so and so is elected – time than all you have to do is go to an adult rec softball game. It’s less of a field of dreams and more of a field of hubris where Used to Be, Wanna Be and Never Was all populate the diamond with their mouths a-flapping.
I know this because I’ve recently had to watch some adult rec games and just a great big Jesus on how someone’s life got to the point where being a “star” on an over forty men’s softball league became a measurement tool for manhood. I know these kind of men. Well, not know them, know them, but back in the day I was bullied into playing not just rec softball, but couples rec softball with my husband and the experience ranks right up there with getting a perm as one of my ickiest decisions ever.
For me it was like the humiliation of high school P.E. all over again (Back story: My claim to fame is that in my entire K – 12 career I was always picked last, like I’m talking dead last, for any sport, relay, and contest requiring coordination up to and including three-legged races and the egg toss.) with the added irritation of men acting like they were trying out for the major leagues who thought it was okay to heckle their wives and/or girlfriends. Add in the fact that the rec league was part of the Beverly Hills, California park system and you have crazy calling in on line one.
My husband and I were on a team with folks in the entertainment industry and by that I mean aspiring actors and actresses and twenty somethings who had directed a student film in college and were now waiting tables.
At our first game, against some low level Paramount employees, my immediate takeaway was “Wow, this is one well-groomed and coiffed team.” Some of the guys that were “actors” refused to wear a baseball hat because it would “mess up their hair.” My husband, knowing that I was there under duress and the only woman who had not taken her T-shirt and made it into a crop top, told me to just stand out in the backfield (or wait is it an outfield?) and to keep my glove in front of my face the entire time. “You mean just when someone’s batting – right?”
“No,” he said emphatically, “If you’re on the field cover you face. The ball is not your friend.”
As we warmed up before the game I noticed that a lot of the guys were what I call sports peacocks. They strutted and preened and in between taking turns at bat started telling their high school glory day stories while, because this was in L.A., taking off their shirts to wipe their faces while flexing.
Then right before we jogged out on the field we had a quick team meeting and once again, because this was L.A., everyone went around in a circle and said their plastic surgeons name in case they got hit in the face. When I shared that my husband and I didn’t have a plastic surgeon one very nice woman, who not only had cropped her T-shirt, but had cut the neckline so low her massive cleavage was at a stage four nipple alert, said she would let us have hers if we needed it. We were also quickly told that in case of emergency it was a call to the plastic surgeon first and then 911.
When we got on the field I, following my husband’s instructions, went as far back as I could and still be considered a member of the team and then placed the glove over my face. Luckily, I didn’t see much action. I did hear a lot of trash talk. The only printable one is when one guy blamed his girlfriend’s gum chewing for making him miss a catch. The field insults were nothing compared to what happened when it was time to bat. Most of these guys acted like their penis size was determined by whether or not they got a hit.
I just soaked it all in and thought about what I was going to eat after the game. Except as I was pondering chili fries the unthinkable happened. A ball had been hit and was heading straight for me and before I could say “Babe Ruth” it landed in my glove so hard I screamed. What do I do? Do I throw it? But wait I can’t throw. Do I run? But where would I run? Which base?
Then, because my face is still covered, I feel someone take the ball from my glove. It was my husband. He heaves it to third and we get two outs. Suddenly, I’m popular without the aid of a crop top. I’m not going to lie, it felt good to get high fives for catching a ball.
I was now in it to win it. Until the next inning when cleavage girl took a line drive to her nose so severe we all heard her bones crack. Following protocol we did plastic surgeon first, 911 second, and then I ran to the car, my glove still covering my face and retired forever from rec softball.