Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Working For The Weekend

There are times I think basketball will kill me. This last weekend I spent twenty one hours in school gyms, either watching my two younger boys play or waiting for them to play again.

Sunday was in theory the better half as only two games were scheduled. Unfortunately, one was at 9:00 a.m., the other at 3:00 p.m., and the location was far enough way from my house that I couldn't justify driving back and forth.

The youngest played first. His teammates' parents left after that game. The middle son played second. His teammates' parents didn't arrive until shortly before that game. That left roughly five hours between games with no familiar faces with whom to strike up a conversation.

Almost none, anyway. There is a set of brothers on my kids' teams. Their mother was in the same boat as I was.

"That's some good snout," I told her, waving the hot dog I was eating. We were sharing a lunchroom table near the gym.

She glanced up from the book she was reading, gave me a polite smile, and returned to her novel. I seem to have inexplicable difficulty in making friends. No matter. I got out the Sunday crossword.

Sensing contentment, my children came over to ruin it.

"What are you doing?" my youngest demanded.

"Working on the crossword while I pray for death," I said.

"You can't die. I need a ride home," he said.

"She'll take you," I said, nodding at his teammate's mother. She continued to pretend I didn't exist.

"Okay," he said. "I'll help you with your puzzle."

"If you want to help, leave me alone," I said.

By now, both my kids and their teammates were crowded around me. No, that's an understatement. All four of them were leaning on me. It was like being in a cave of boys.

"We'll all help you," said my youngest's teammate.

"Goody," I said.

"Here's a clue," said my middle son, jabbing at the newspaper. "A four letter word that's a unit of distance.'"

"Mile," I said. "As in, 'I wish I was a mile away from here.'"

"Here's one," said my middle son's teammate. "The home of Bradley University."

"Peoria," said his mother under her breath.

"Peoria," I said, writing it in. "Why don't you kids run away to Peoria?"

And so it went, the kids giving me clues, me filling in the blanks.

Kids: "A six letter word meaning something that's nice but not necessary."

Me: "Luxury. I can't afford luxury because I spend all my money on you."

Kids: "A four letter word starting with 'H' that describes where you live."

Me: "Hell."

Kids: "That's not right. It ends in 'E.'"

Me. "Home. Hell. Same thing."

Eventually it degenerated, as these things do. I put my head down on the table and "pretended" to cry.

"What's wrong with your dad?" asked my youngest's teammate. His mother had finally set her book down and was studying me with a mixture of curiosity and pity.

"Ignore him," my son replied. "He does this all the time."

"Go away," I muttered.

"Give us some money for concessions and we will," my boys demanded in unison. I took out my wallet and gave a dollar to each of them. I gave a dollar to their teammates too.

"You don't have to do that," said their mother.

"I don't mind. I like your kids. That's more than I can say about my own."

"It's been a long weekend," she said.

"I have measured out my life with hot dogs," I said. "Eliot for today's parent."

"Do you like Kipling?" she asked.

"I don't know. I've never Kippled."

We laughed.


Jennifer said...

Oh Snag!!! Word will spread! A literate man... hell, a man, is a rarity at children's functions. I bet you next week, even more mothers will show up with their crosswords in tow!

I've never Kippled... you little strumpet!

(cue all literate men who've attended a children's function...)

fish said...

"A Cave of Boys" is an excellent band name.

Righteous Bubba said...

"Working on the crossword while I pray for death," I said.

I believe God requires undivided attention with wailing and staring up at the sky and so on. That someone may try to kill you after about ten minutes of that is all the proof those dumbass atheists should require.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

There are times I think (a) basketball will kill me.

well, that seems awfully specific and kind of irrational... Although sometimes I feel the same way about lacrosse equipment.

I've never Kippled.

Where do you live that people give you straight lines like that? It's not fair, I tell you.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

The nice thing about measuring your life out with hot dogs is that like cigarettes, you can also measure how much your life is being reduced with each one you eat.

Nice Loverboy reference, by the way.

Anonymous said...

Snag you flirter, you.

Where does this all end?

Snag said...

Oh, she knew exactly what she was doing when she asked me about Kipling. It was a pity straight line.