August 5, 2002
Today is the day to refrain from touching the merchandise.
Spam can be inspiration. Check my latest Sweet Fancy Moses addition here.
In a surprising twist this weekend, I ended up participating in a sporting activity. I try to make it to the gym as often as I can (or, more like, as often as I feel like it), but my actual athletic competition days are behind me. While I was a fairly active sporty-type person in my youth, sports were never really my passion, and thus they've fallen to the wayside, to none of my chagrin. However, it was pleasant to realize that at least I am not completely inept at some athletics. I thought I'd take inventory of the sporting events I had taken especial interest in at some point during my life and see how I am at them now (and I won't count the Stairmaster, the treadmill, or the Elliptical Illusion.)
Softball: Thanks to rigorous
coaching by my Dad and a big backyard, I was pretty good at baseball/softball/t-ball
in my day, which extended to about 6th grade. I knew how to "keep my
eye on the ball," "not step in the bucket," and "not throw
like a girl." I even had a famous championship hit back in the Pope John
XXIII 4th grade softball game (I think that's when it was. Although it was
not nearly as famous as Nora Geraghty's huge in-the-breadbasket gamewinning
catch from another, or possibly the same season, but I am really digressing.)
Today: Um, I'm ok. At company or family games I can often get a respectable single or at least have a good popout; making general contact with the ball is good enough for me. However, I don't have the speed I once did so I am no Ichiro Suzuki (he and I actually share less in common than you would think.) And my fielding pretty much stinks. I have grown to fear the ball coming to me, so I play extremely deep right field, only if there are two tall and fast guys playing the outfield with me. And I have de-volved back to throwing like a girl.
Swimming: I took swimming lessons from approximately age 2-10, so
I became pretty familiar with the water, and performed decently at the back
and breaststroke at the McGaw YMCA swim team when I was in grade school. In
high school I even became a certified life guard and worked as such at Camp
Echo in Fremont Michigan, performing in the terrifying and famous Lost Swimmer
Drills (one time I even found a 'camper,' performed by a life vest, wedged
under a pier.) However, I was not much of a diver; I could do the general
three-step-dive but a few painful experiences at flips and backdives gave
me a healthy respect of the diving board.
Today: I can still swim okay but swimming laps in pools is incredibly tedious to me. I can swim a mile or more, easily, but I have a hard time justifying its time in addition to remembering to find my swimming cap, goggles, plus all the extra time conditioning and shaving. However, when I'm playing around in the pool, I don't think anybody can beat me at diving for rings in the deep end. I believe that 16 feet is my record. (And I'm still really good at somersaults and handstands.) I prefer the safety of a chlorinated area to Lake Michigan or the horror of jellyfish and sharks in the ocean.
Volleyball: I was on the volleyball team in grade school and for freshman
year of high school, although it felt like much longer, because I put in a
lot of time, in retrospect, to that sometimes pugilistic sport (any sport
where they teach you how to purposefully fall on your face is rough.) I would
rack up 20 or so hours of volleyball camp a week in the summer, took a fun
but unproductive beach volleyball class with a really cute teacher, and one
time even travelled to glorious Champaign-Urbana for an away-sports camp (and
still have a great Sideout T-shirt that I wear for working out.) I was okay
at volleyball, but I didn't have a lot of height nor a surplus of what they
call 'hustle.' I did, however, earn the impressive title of "Back Court
Today: I haven't played in years. I highly doubt my abilities to serve, underhand or over, but I'm sure I could still perform a decent pass, or as you yokels would call it, a 'bump.'
Boating: I spent several summers at Evanston's own Aquatics camp,
and hung around a lot at Camp Echo's Boating and Canoing section. Despite
my Dad's purchase of a Barnett, I was never very partial to sailing, but I
did enjoy paddling around in kayaks, banana boats and especially canoes. I
could steer with my masterful J and C strokes. I could swamp the canoe, jump
out, empty it, right it and sometimes even climb back in. I even spen 2 weeks
canoeing in the Canadian wilderness on an adventure trip, shooting some real-deal
rapids, and only totally screwed up, fell out, hurt my shin on some rocks
and lost a paddle once.
Today: My Dad traded the sailboat for a kayak that I go out in once or twice a summer (dragging it down from the lock and back up can seem like an unfair tradeoff to the 20 minutes or so spent in the water.) I enjoy the kayak and am still a good paddler but usually my preferred boating method is paddle out, sit around with my feet in the water, and then come back in.
Badminton: Don't you dare laugh: I was on the Evanston Township High
School's Lady Wildkits Badminton team for two years, thank you very much.
On the North Shore of Chicago, badminton is a serious sport, not your
grandma garden variety. Don't let the skirts fool you; we were out to win
and were intense--many girls' self-inflicted bruises on their thighs (from
slapping themselves in frustration with their rackets when they didn't perform
well) confirmed this. I went to badminton camp 4 hours a day for a few summers
and was proud of my coach who refused to provide a boys' team until the school
began putting as much money into girls' sports as they did for boys'. I was
not the star of the team but I was a decent player nonetheless, I think, until
I did eventually start to suck. It's all about confidence. And not eating
too many bagels.
Today: I'm happy to report that I can still wield a racquet witih pride. One Mr. Justin Koplow was in town and on a whim, we decided to pitch around a bird in the backyard. One really sore right arm and a blistered thumb later, I feel triumphant. My overheads still are mighty, my drops deceptively soft and my smashes, when I don't miss them, whiz with malice. Yeah, I'll take you on.