Thursday, August 18, 2011

Old Man Summer

I drove home last evening, which was simply gorgeous by the way (serving as a reminder to me at least of the fact that Nature has no memory), and it occurred to me that here in the latter half of August I am very close to pulling the curtain closed on the summer. A summer in which for the first time in a very, very long time I have played no softball.

For reasons not entirely clear to me but undoubtedly connected to the fact that (a) Margaret cooked dinner for them the night they stayed at our home during the Bar exam in July 1994; (b) Margaret and I hosted the season-end party at our home for the several years that we had one; and (c) I brought a cooler full of water, Gatorade and ice to every one of our games, an annual rite of summer for me since law school has been playing softball on a team organized by two of my friends (I could actually place the "my" in front of the "two" and be accurate as well) from law school. Both David Rubino and Diego Navas are far better players than I. I used to chalk up the gaping disparity in talent to the fact that I am older than both of them, but given how much better a player David's older brother John is than I am and the fact that John is older than I am, mine is an argument that holds nary a drop of water.

Truth be told, prior to this summer there were summers in which I did not play softball - although they were so long ago that I cannot actually remember the years in which that happened. And those absences, unlike this one, were temporary. This one is not. In an ironic twist that the creepy little dude who directed the "I See Dead People" movie would surely appreciate, as running has enabled me to morph into a significantly less weighty and more healthy version of myself - and a version of myself doing things I formerly thought impossible such as completing a marathon - I have actually been betrayed by my legs.

Running on a treadmill and on a paved surface in a generally straight-ahead direction is no problem. But I no longer can corner with any speed or without any pain. It makes it a tad difficult to run the bases when you cannot change direction effectively - especially seeing as the goal is to have to change directions not less then three times per at bat. That fact, coupled with the fact that my role on our team most years was to play the position of catcher, has converted me into a former softball player.

I am forced to confess that as a player I was never better than mediocre. And in the final few years I played I was less than that. But for the fact I played on a team run by two very good friends, my softball playing days would have run out long before the flexibility in my legs did. David and Diego allowed me to play long after common sense dictated that they give my spot to someone with a bit less salt in his beard and a lot more pepper in his bat. I am happy that they never did. While I do not miss playing, I miss all of the attendant silliness that went along with it. I am a person of scant few friends. Removing this particular activity from my day-to-day has removed my point of contact with certain of them as well. And that I miss.

At least, unlike my inability to take the ball the other way in spite of acres of available acreage on the left side of field, this new problem is one I can correct. I may indeed be an old dog but my aptitude for trick-learning still exists.


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