"Whadja do on the long weekend? Go to the States? "What for? Cheese and running shoes? School supplies and cheap vodka? No, but I was close. I was in South Surrey, at Softball City."
"Softball City?" "It's not really a city. It's four well-groomed ball diamonds surrounding a restaurant/concession/washroom complex with expensive ball park food, but the washrooms are free and the skies are not cloudy all day - once that morning haze wears off.
"I was with Les Encore, the Trudeaucats, our trilingual (English, French and Profane) women's fastpitch team for the provincial championships."
"Is this going to be a sports story, then?" "Oh yeah, that and so much more, so if you'd rather beg off and go to the gardening column or Woodland's Here & There piece, that's fine."
"So, how did it go?" "Well, we won't need Freddy Mercury at the windup party."
"Huh?" "You know, we are the champions of the world, etc. We won two and lost two and got to go home early.
"This would have been the end of an unremarkable season if you counted wins and losses, remarkable if you counted friendships made and tears shed and blood bled.
We picked up half a dozen, talented young women who wanted a less stressful atmosphere from the rep ranks and good they were and likeable and eventually we all meshed into one team, not enough to become best in province but good enough not to be eating one another's heads off by season's end.
Because it's not only the game on the field but the game off, the talk and the teasing and the tentative friendships growing into permanence or desire enough to come back next year - 'there's always next year'!" "So why do you do it? The young women!?" "Yes, but not in the way you imply. I will be forever grateful to these young people for allowing
me the opportunity to be part of the game I love, again and again, for 10 or 12 years now, for building mutual memories that will persist long after my ashes have been buried beneath the first base coach's box or used to line the pitching mound. It's all in my last will and testament to my partially sound mind in a body beaten by adulthood which, try as you might you can never escape, the responsibilities of being husband, father, taxpayer.
"They keep me young. They are an older man's convertible, hair implants, liposuction, a desperate attempt to retain just a smidgeon of youth, by surrounding myself with same, young women who aren't afraid to cast a "F bomb" my way."
"F Bomb?" "They're not afraid to tell me where to go!" "Did Andrew go with you?" "Of course, he loves these girls, one in particular. And not only that, he got to throw in the first ball at the opening ceremonies with all the teams in the infield and the umpires. He was thrilled. Everyone cheered and offered him high fives; all the hotdogs in the world couldn't match that brief moment in the spotlight."
"So what did you do the rest of the weekend?" "Spent part of Monday at Whonnock Lake with a hundred other people, most of them families and extended families taking cover under their canopies while waiting for the hamburgers to cook; and I'm wondering where the hell all these people come from because I rarely see anyone that I know. Are all the other beaches that crowded that folks have to come to my skuzzy little pond? Is this just another sign that Maple Ridge is growing like Mary Jane in the basement? Not that I mind sharing my beach with these interlopers but jeez, the parking gets a little tough to find with all those minivans and SUVs.
"Mind you, I could've been stuck in traffic coming back from America. Hell of a way to spend B.C. Day!"
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