Thursday, August 21, 2008

Basketball Jones

"Eight hundred and seventy dollars for two kids to play basketball?"* I squeaked.

My friend E. laughed as he wrote out a check for his youngest son. "My oldest is done with basketball. You shouldn't have had so many children," he said. "

"No shit," I said. "Thanks for rubbing salt in the wound."

"Children are like wounds," he said contemplatively. "Great, gaping wounds with legs."

"Yeah, and they bleed money," I said.

"Remember when we were going to let my youngest kill himself for the insurance?" he asked.

"Good times," I said. "What do you suppose our boys will say about us when they grow up?"

"It won't be like the Chief's kid," said E.

"No kidding," I said.

E. and I were at a retirement party today for the chief of our local volunteer fire department. After the mayors and commissioners and legislators and other officials had their say, the chief's grown son took the lectern.

"Dad," he said, "When I was little it sometimes bothered me when you'd have to run out to fires and accidents all the time. Look at this room full of people, though." He gestured to the fire station bay, full of people as it had been all day, people from all over coming to say goodbye.

He continued, choking up a little. "I read somewhere that a man's only real legacy is the life he leads. You've made this a better place. That's the best legacy you could leave for me. I'm so proud to be your son."

The chief and his boy hugged while all of us, cops, firefighters and EMTs included, stared at our shoes and snuffled a little.

Now, at basketball sign up, I asked E., "Can you imagine what our kids will say at our retirement?"

"Christ," he said. "How about, 'I hate you, dad. You never did anything for anyone.'" He signed the check for his son's registration, handed it over, and stood up.

"I can hear it now. 'You're the worst dad ever. All the other dads are way better.'" I handed over a check for my own kids.

"Thank God I'll die before I retire," he said.

"You and me both," I said.

* I know. There is no need to remind me I'm fortunate to be able to afford it. Please respect my self-pity, as unattractive as it may be.


fish said...

I just wrote checks for baseball, soccer, flag football, and Tae Kwan Do.

We can have a bitch session.

Jennifer said...

I'll take some of that action. I just paid for 5 dance classes WITH costume fees. I'll also be buying 5 new pairs of dance shoes. I don't even want to think of the things that haven't been signed up for yet, but are coming... the dance thing always leaves me reeling for a bit.

Kathleen said...

checks for baseball, soccer, flag football, and Tae Kwan Do.

my kid is going to love reading, and have a library card. Have fun junior!!!

Adorable Girlfriend said...

Is that really how much it was?!! If so, I cannot afford to have children.

Fish, TWD? That's a new one.

fish said...

Kathleen is so getting a boy...

Anonymous said...

My parents had a boy. He had (has) a library card, and loved (loves) reading. They managed to repeat this more than once.

There is still hope for Kathleen.