Softball #2

So the first game was a couple of weeks ago.  We batted first, and when I got up to bat, I really wanted to make that ball fly.  I swung as hard as I could and the ball flew… straight into the pitcher’s mit.  Seriously, the dude didn’t even move; the ball just went straight into his mit.  At least I didn’t have to run.

The next time I got up to bat, I bopped it right over the infield and I made it to first.  I don’t know what really happened next.  I don’t know who batted next and whether they got out or not.  You see, I am so out of shape that all I could do was breathe in – breathe out – and try not to pass out and all this was just from the run to first.  None of this seems right.  I have been exercising almost every day for almost 6 months: 30 minutes on an elliptical or exercise bike daily.  I guess the smooth movements of exercise “equipment” doesn’t really prepare a guy for an all-out sprint from home to first with all of the flailing arms and flying spittle and whatnot… nor was I prepared for what followed.

The next thing I remember is our stinking coach getting up to bat.  I think that at this point I’m on second, but I could be mistaken; everything is fuzzy and I find myself breathing heavy just trying to remember!  Our coach is a young dude… early twenty-something, just out of college, freshly engaged to be married, still probably thinks life is going to be fair (and given these negatives, I still like him) and he can run like greased lightening (and I don’t even know what greased lightening is but I think it has something to do with John Travolta and Olivia Newton John and I’m assuming it’s really fast!)  So he hits it deep into the outfield and I start sprinting.  Before I get to third, I can hear Coach round second behind me!  You’ve got to be kidding… when did I turn into the slow old guy?!?  I struggle around third  and sprint for home.  The ball is still out in the outfield and I could have let up a little, but I don’t want Coach behind me to have to hold up at a base just because the old guy is in front of him (I used to get upset when an old dude held me up in my base running… and now I’m the old guy) is limping along.  I hit home and try to stop.  I can’t stop.  I run straight into the chain-link fence behind home and steady myself.  My lungs are on fire, my legs are burning,  and the cheering hourd on the otherside of the fence is fading in and out of focus (ok, there are like two ladies cheering from our church, but “cheering hourd” sounds cooler than “couple of ladies”).  I stumble back to the dugout, yearning to place my rear on the bench for a couple of minutes.  Suddenly, someone hands me my glove and says, “We’re in the field.”  Apparently the next batter had no respect for the elderly and got out immediately… stupid whipper-snapper.

So, the rest of the game is a blur because I never really got a chance to catch my breath.  I am relatively certain that an inordinate amount of brain cells died that evening due to a lack of oxygen.  My wife and two boys had watched the game (which we won) and waited for me after the game.

“How do you feel?” my wife asked.

“I feel great,” I lied.

“You looked great out there,” she lied.

The walk back to the car was painful, but I tried to walk as normal as possible.  I couldn’t let my family know that their husband and father was really a semi-pathetic geezer who is too old to play softball.

A week passed until our next game.  During that week, I was a little sore but never felt like total crap.  When the second game rolled around, I thought I was ready.  I was mistaken.

Before the game, I started stretching.  Something didn’t feel right.  My thighs started to semi-cramp.  ‘No big deal,’ I thought to myself, ‘just stretch it out.’  So I stretched and I stretched and I stretched some more.  By the time we were ready to play, I’m thinking that I’ve got to have about the most stretched muscles in the WORLD (or at least at the Carpenter Center’s Church League Softball games for the night).

We start playing and everything seems just fine.  I get up to bat and I smack that silly ball right between the 1st and 2nd basemen.  I start my sprint to first, and I think aliens may have temporarily taken my thigh muscles… seriously, it’s like they were not there!  You have no idea how important your thigh muscles are to your ability to run until STUPID ALIENS TAKE THEM!  I had no power to run!  I couldn’t sprint, I couldn’t run, I couldn’t even jog; I think “mosey” may be the only word that can possibly describe my jaunt from home to first.  And the crazy thing is, I was safe!

Ok, so now I’m freaking out.  I’m miraculously on first base and must be prepared to make it to second if the batter behind me hits it.  With my thighs missing, I’m trying to figure out a way to make that happen.  I reach down and feel my legs where my thighs should be and my fingers are greeted with cries of pain from my thighs!  Stupid aliens somehow put them back, but they must have put ’em in upside down or something because they most definitely do not feel right!  Sharp, shooting pain is flickering across the surface of my thighs like someone lit a sting of Balck Cats on my thigh on the Fourth of July.  My thighs are starting to cramp so I’m standing there on first base pulling my foot up to my butt on one leg and then another trying to stretch out the alien evil from my legs when the gal batting behind me hits one right between short and third!  CRAP!  I start my limp/hop/mosey toward second as fast as I can when I feel a small fire starting right between my legs in an area where fire, no matter how small, is most unwelcome!  I glance to where the ball is: an outfielder is winding up to chuck it to second.  I know that if I push just a little harder, I will beat the throw.  I know that if I push just a little harder, the fire between my legs will stretch into a full-blown inferno and I will be safe at second with the prospect of finding a way to third with a pulled groin safely beside me!  My mosey slows to a … I don’t even know what’s slower than a mosey, but I found it, and I watched my impending out come to fruition as my foot hit the base less than a second after the ball hit the glove of the opponent already on the base… but my groin remained un-pulled:)

“Waddle”… that’s it… that’s what’s slower than mosey, because “waddle” is what I did back to the dugout.  “Waddle” is what I did through the short amount of game I was forced to play through before someone younger and stronger than me who didn’t move about like a STINKING DUCK took my place!

So, as I’m sitting on the bench watching our team painfully lose a game we come relatively close to winning, every stinking muscle in my body is screaming at me.  It’s as if last week, my muscles gave me a break, you know?

“What’s this idiot doing running around and crap, ” my thighs said.  “Does he not realize we’re all too old for this?”

“It’s delusions of grandeur,” replied my bicep.  “Let’s give him his last moment of glory without making him look like a total boob.  After he makes himself look semi-tarded tonight, he’ll never want to do this again.”

Of course, my muscles didn’t realize that I’m not the brightest bulb in the chandelier.  My muscles didn’t realize that by showing me mercy, they were inadvertently increasing my confidence!  When the second game rolled around and there I was trying to push my stupid muscles to the limit… the muscles pushed back!

“Ok, this jerk isn’t getting it,” screamed the muscles in my back.

“Let’s show this idiot what’s what,” my thighs demanded.

“All together now,” hollered every single muscle in my body in unison, “GIVE OUT!”

…and they did.

If I had a tail, it would have definitely been between my legs as I limped home.  Upon entering the house, my wife asked, “How did it go?”

“We lost,” I replied.

“Too bad,” she said.  “How do you feel.”

Now, my wife had warned me that this would happen… I was going to hurt myself.  Although I was more incredibly sore than anything, my pride was hurting like it never has before.  “I feel fine,” I smiled.  And I just stood in the dining room, not moving… not wanting my wife to see me limp.

“Good,” she replied.  When she turned around and started back into the kitchen, I slowly trudged toward the bedroom.  She turned around and faced me again, and I froze.  Her confused expression started to slowly morph to recognition.  I stood like a statue and smiled my idiotic smile.

“Are you sure you’re ok?” she asked, a small grin starting to form at the corners of her lips.

I was not at a point where I could deal with an I-told-you-so, so I continued to hold perfectly still and smile.  “Never felt better.”

“Ok,” she smiled and again turned into the kitchen.

Once she disappeared from sight, I waddled into the bedroom with every intention of taking a nice hot bath.  However, once I made it to the foot of the bed, my muscles were screaming with ear-splitting intensity and I collapsed into a pile on my stomach on the bed, and I knew I would not be getting up anytime soon… and then I heard my wife’s footsteps as she entered the room!


“Just… uh… just taking a little breather,” I said, beating her to the punch and hoping that would be enough to get her to turn around and leave the room while I struggled to obtain an upright position once again.

The footsteps got closer.


As she sat at the foot of the bed by my legs, my body rolled slightly toward her and I think I may have squealed ever so slightly like a little girl from the pain.


Then her hands were on my back, rubbing out many of the small knots that had accumulated throughout not only the night but the past week.  As the muscles in my back began to release me from their painful grip, her hands moved down to my legs and those muscles too soon gave up their punishing intentions.

When her hands stopped, I muttered a “Thanks.”

“You’re welcome,” she said.  No “I told you so”, no “are you ready to quit”, nothing negative at all… just “you’re welcome.”  And then, “What time is your game next week?  I think me and the boys would like to watch another game.”

So, tonight is game # 3.  My body is feeling pretty good, my family is behind me, I’m representing my Church in a league where sportsmanship usually (but not always) takes precedence over winning and I’m having some fun.  I may have to pick up some cleats at one of the local sporting goods stores when they put them on clearance in another week or two.  I figure I’ll be able to run the bases better next year if I’m in cleats.  😉

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Ok, a few weeks back, I signed up for our church’s softball team.  It has been a couple of years since I played due to having a crappy retail job that allowed me no normal free time (just a note: I don’t think there is such a thing as a non-crappy retail job… I’ve had my share of them, and every single one of them pretty much sucked).  The last time I did play, I ended up tearing my calf  during the first game on my first trip around third (no, I didn’t stretch… I never used to HAVE to stretch).  Anyway, I was pretty excited to be getting back into softball.  I love the camaraderie of being on a team, I love the spirit of competition, and I just plain love anything that involves hitting something with a bat!  I signed up during church and was excited when I got home and told my wife.

“I signed up for our church-league softball team,” I said with a big smile on my face.

My wife didn’t smile.  She looked mildly shocked and the air slowly began its escape from my balloon (you could almost hear the squeaky, fart-like sound of the escape).  I expected words of encouragement or maybe a little I’m-proud-of-you hug.  Instead I got, “Aren’t you too old for that?”

“Wha… what do you mean?”  I’ve never actually seen my puppy dog face, but I know it has been extremely effective in the past (well, ok, not “extremely effective”… but it worked once…).  On this day, however, the power of my big hazel eyes and pouty lips pulled off nothing.

“Last time you played, you pulled your calf in the first game and you were out the rest of the season,” my wife pleasantly reminded me.  “You also spent a large portion of a month just laying around complaining about your leg.  You were the one who said, two years ago, that you were ‘too old for this…’ let me see if I can remember the exact word… oh yes, I believe it was ‘…crap’.”

The memory of a woman is a frighteningly complex series of processes that serve a primary purpose of making the male in her life feel as absolutely small as possible at any given moment when it most works to her advantage; this moment is seldom less than at least one year from when the actual event occurred and almost always comes as a complete shock to the male when the memory is revisited.

“So you think I’m too old for softball?” I asked, the puppy dog thing still trying to work its magic.

“No, you think you’re too old, remember?” my wife reasoned.   “I’m simply showing my support by agreeing with you.”

At this point, the puppy dog has run away (I’m sure to be hit by a large car) while I try to figure out why what she is saying should not make sense.  Suddenly, it comes to me.  “But that was two years ago… and I didn’t stretch, but I will from now on… and I really want to play again!”

“Well, if that’s what you want, I’m okay with it…”

Why is it that when a woman agrees to let you do something you really want to do but you feel they really don’t want you to do they can agree to let you do it and make you feel guilty as sin for wanting it in the first place?

“… just don’t come crying to me if you hurt yourself again.”

So it was agreed: I would play softball, not as a young man who could help the team, but as someone really too old to be playing who was reluctantly allowed to play by his wife (with noted reservations).  My initial enthusiasm lay on the floor in the form of limp balloon remnants exhausted of all former glory and now a mere mushy pile of latex and saliva.

This is gonna be a great softball season…

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The Dreaded 40

Sometimes at night, just before I drift off to sleep, I sense something moving under the bed.  On my way to work on some mornings, I glance in the rear view mirror and see a movement in the backseat… but nothing is there.  At various points throughout the day, usually in the shadows, I sense foreboding movement while everything is stationary.  The presence I feel more and more as time goes by is the dreaded age of 40 creeping up on me.

Turning 30 sucked.  Turning 30 was kind of like the true end of childhood.  Turning 30 meant I had to start being responsible.  Turning 30 meant that it was time for everyone under 30 to start looking at me as an adult.  Turning 30 sucked.

Turning 40 is going to MAJOR suck.  Over the last 10 years, my body has started to sag; not that I didn’t sag in the first 30 years… I’ve been a sagger for most of my life… it’s just that the sagging has become much more noticeable over the last 10 years.  I used to think man-boobs were funny.  Man-boobs are most definitely NOT funny.  Gray hair has taken up a permanent residence on my head… and on my chin.  I used to think it was kind of cool when I’d spy a new glistening white hair amongst my brunette locks. Yeah, it ain’t cool anymore.  My 30s have been a slow decline in body and spirit.  I really can’t believe that my 40s are going to be better.  Turning 40 is going to MAJOR suck.

No good can possibly come out of turning 40.  There’s a guy I work with who just took the 40 plunge.  The dude used to be really active, you know, riding his bike all the time, going on hikes, not the kind of guy to sit still.  Then he turned 40… and everything changed.  He turned 40 and shortly thereafter he got The Gout.  Seriously, The Gout!  Now he  walks slow and funny.  He isn’t active anymore… because of The Gout.  He spends a large portion of his time sitting around with his gouty foot elevated griping about The Gout.  Something that everyone who has to turn 40 can look forward to: getting to the age where the old-person ailments start kicking in… The Gout, Rheumatism, Shingles, Arthritis, Cirrhosis, High Blood Pressure, Heart Disease, Diabetes, Dropsy, Dementia, Alzheimer’s… oh my, what good times lie ahead!  And that’s just the diseases.  That doesn’t include all of the fun stuff like hair on the back and coming out of the ears, liver spots, wrinkles, weakening strength, hunching over, using a cane or walker, losing hearing, and more and more and more!  Of course, turning 40 gets you just a little closer to that wonderful senior discount at Perkins (yippee).

I’m already beginning to act the part of a 40-something in certain ways.  After a long day at work, sometimes I’m just too lazy to lose the black work socks in exchange for white socks.  So, yes, sometimes you will see me mowing the lawn with shorts, tennis shoes and my stupid black  socks up to my knees.  I swore I would never go there, but there I am.  I always wondered how a man gets to that point that wearing black socks with tennis shoes and shorts doesn’t seem dorky.  I’ve come to realize that, yeah, we know it’s dorky, but we just don’t care.  In my case, I’ve been married for almost 15 years.  It’s not like I give a crap about what the cute young women driving by think of me while I’m mowing the lawn.  They weren’t that interested in me 20 years ago when I was single and less saggy, so why would they glance twice at an almost-40 sagging dude… the color of my socks isn’t going to make a difference.

In college, I used to imagine how my life would turn out.  With my business degree, I was going to take the business world by storm.  By the time I was 40 I was going to be raking in six figures in some high powered position with some major corporation.  Well, 40 is less than 6 months away, I ain’t making close to six figures, and my position is about as high powered as a Nerf dart gun.

I think this is the point where the mid-life crisis kicks in… a major benchmark (40) is approaching and those stupid goals (money and power) haven’t been reached (and most likely never will be reached).  If only I could afford a stupid convertible sports car.  Guys going through a mid-life crisis are supposed to get a stinking sports car, right!  Yeah… I’m screwed on the sports car thing.  At least I get an affair with a hot  woman half my age, am I correct?  Mid-life crisis guys at least get the young hottie, right?  Oh yeah, too many hotties have seen me mowing with those stupid black socks up to my knees…  CRAP!  Did I mention that turning 40 is going to MAJOR suck?

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The Purpose

When dreams and reality collide, we’re often left with one big pile of happy stinking joy.  Seriously, a humongous pile.  So, what exactly do I mean?  Some people actually achieve their dreams; not many, but some.  The rest of us settle, or wait, or settle for the fact that were put on this planet to wait.  What are we waiting for?  We’re waiting for our dreams to come true.  Why are we settling?  Because we are terrified that if we actually try to accomplish our dreams we will fail… and if we fail at our dreams, what do we have left?  So, we settle and we wait and we are envious of those jerks who actually accomplish their dreams.  Half the time we can’t even figure out what our stinking dreams are!

Oh, did I mention that we justify?

  • Man, I really want to start my own business… but I need to wait until I’m financially secure.  (people who haven’t accomplished their dreams are rarely ever going to be financially secure)
  • Wow, I really want to go back to college and major in something that will lead to a career which doesn’t make me want to gouge my eyes out every morning on my way to work;  but I’m too old to go back to school, and I’ve got to worry about how I’m going to put my kids through college, and money is a little tight, so I guess wanting to gouge my eyes out every morning is something I will just have to deal with.  (education does not guarantee happiness or success… it never has and it never will… trust me)
  • I really want to write a novel, I’ve got all kinds of good ideas for a story, and my writing isn’t bad, but I need to reach a point in my life where I have more free time to devote to my writing.  (the only time you will ever have enough perceivable free time to try to break into writing as a career is when you are dead…  you can’t write when you’re dead… this also goes for exercising to get in shape or lose weight, learning a new skill, volunteering in your community, and just about anything that would be an addition to your schedule… although you will definitely lose weight when you are dead but not in an attractive kind of way… just ask Nicole Richie… I believe she has died multiple times)
  • I really want to start my own blog, but I need to wait until I actually become an expert at something.  No one wants to read a blog from some jerk who isn’t an expert at something. (even if you are an expert at something… which I am not… there is a really good chance that there is already someone who is more of an expert at your area of expertise than you are who already has a blog… this should not discourage you… there can never be too many choices from which to gain knowledge or be intelligently entertained)

We settle, or we wait, or we settle to wait.  It’s as if we’re waiting for the lottery of life to suddenly hand us a jackpot.  Look at that, no effort and all of a sudden all of our dreams have come true!  Seriously, can we be any more ignorant than we usually are?  Please don’t answer that question… I’m trying to muster a little faith in humanity:)  The major problem most of us run into with the settle-wait-hope approach is that given time, heat, and pressure, “settle-wait-hope” tends to morph into “stew in disgruntled bitterness”.  No matter how blessed we are or how great the family and friends we surround ourselves with are (this is the “happy” and “joy”), we still have that big pile of STINK surrounding us because we haven’t realized that personal dream.

I turn 40 later this year (which scares the crap out of me) and feel like I may be on the verge of a mid-life crisis.  I have a job I don’t hate, my friends are encouraging, and a wonderful wife and kids who make life worth living are living their lives by my side.  Yet somehow, the mild stink in my life has rapidly turned into a horrendous stench and I often find it difficult to breath.  Thus, a blog?!?

I have had more than my fair share of meaningless, dead-end jobs.  I know a little about a lot but a lot about nothing.  I’m probably not the ideal sort of person to try to start a blog.  However, I am searching for my dream (whatever that may be) and I figure this may be a start… not a good start, but a start.  I am hoping that by posting on this site a couple of times a week I can start to figure out what my dream is.  Of course, there will be a lot of complaining too, because those of us who have not realized our dreams tend to be cynical gripers.  I’m looking for input.  I’m looking for direction.  I know that some Joe or Jane off the street commenting on a blog is not going to open my eyes to some magical world of self-fulfillment (or maybe he or she will), but dialog is always good.  Good dialog is a great way to open one’s eyes to new ideas, and new ideas tend to lend themselves to the beginning of the fulfillment of dreams… or at least this is what I keep telling myself:)

I am by no stretch of the imagination a cheerleader.  “Motivation” is not one of my stronger traits.  By following this blog, you are in no way going to be enlightened or find a new more positive way to look at the world (or maybe you will).  You will not be persuaded to search out your own dream (I pray that you will).  Entertainment is unlikely (but possible).  Crap… you might as well go to one of my links and find a real blog to follow that will teach you something (but you could hang out with me as well and maybe… just maybe, at the very least, you’ll get an occasional chuckle following the mid-life ranting of Adventurer Rich on the adventure of everyday life in small-town America while he attempts to prevent life from just passing him by).

Are you up for the adventure?

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