Thursday, October 26, 2006

Triggered Memory...

No, I have not finally remembered the events of that fateful night, you know, the night when I was the last one to see Billy Joe alive...But we are working on it, and someday I will know why I woke up in a puddle of my own urine, covered in bite size Baby Ruth bars and mumbling about the Acapulco Project. Someday, I will know.

No, this is a much more pleasant memory..It's a story of schoolyard triumph. And it was triggered by wacthing a game of kickball.

That's right, kickball. I was walking across campus yesterday morning, and there were some kids(Jesus, they're college students...Am I really that old now ? That I call college students "kids" with no hint of irony ? I guess I am. Sigh)playing kickball. It actually made me smile. Then I remembered my own youth, and the pretty much daily games of kickball played at Ralph S. Maugham grammar school.

I actually remembered one game in particular...Probably the only specific game of kickball that I actually can remember. Actually, I also remember the one game when this kid that ALWAYS missed recess for disciplinary reasons{usually homework,I think} FINALLY got a chance to play kickball, and on his first turn at bat, he stepped on the ball, and fell and hit his head on the curb. There was no serious damage[thank God], but he couldn't play anymore that day. It was like some scene from an awful, awful movie. But I digress. This story is about Paticus and kickball immortality.

I wish I could say I remember the date and all that, but I don't. It was third grade, I remember that for certain. I also remember that we were playing kickball on the upper field. Our school had a blacktop, and then a little hill, and then a dirt baseball diamond. We were playing kickball on the upper blacktop. Now, until this day, I was a "Paticus is up...Move in" kickball player, which is as it sounds, when it was my turn to kick, everyone would move in, because I was terrible, and I was an easy out. One of the worst players in the class. It sucked. It hurt, but such is life.

I don't remember what inning we were in, I don't remember the score, I don't remember how many outs there were, I don't remember how many people were on base(if there were any),just remember that it was my turn, and I heard the familiar call..." Paticus is up...Move in. Everybody move in." I think there may even have been a call of "Easy Out." That one always cut the deepest.

The schoolyard was warm that day. I would say unseasonably so, but I don't remember the date. But it was warm, my friends. Was there a hint of rain in the air ? Sure, why not ? Was I wearing my Roger Staubach jersey ? I may have been. The odds were good. I like to think that I was wearing it.

I took that long, dark walk to the batter's box. I saw all my class mates closing in on me, awaiting the "Easy Out." My hands were sweaty, as was my brow. I probably missed the first pitch. I did that a lot too. Remember, I said the "Paticus is up, move in" strategy hurt..I never said it was unwise or that the sentiment behind it was unfounded. I had earned this disrespect. I couldn't kick that damn red ball to save my life...Until the next pitch.

The pitch came, and I swung my leg at it.( I kicked with my left foot, by the way. I'm right handed, but left footed...Is that odd ? I really don't know, but I thought I would share.) I connected. I kicked the ball. Out of habit, I dropped my head and started my futile trot to first place, but then I heard a collective gasp. I looked up, and the ball was in the air. HIGH in the air. It was going over everyone's head. Time stopped for just a split second, and I felt like I was watching a kickball movie, and I could actually see the little checkerboard stitching on the ball as it slowly rotated in the sky.

Time returned to normal as the last player jumped and missed my kick. It bounced off of the blacktop, and rolled down the hill, across the baseball diamond all the way to the backstop. It was a home run. I rounded the bases, and was greeted by my teammates at home plate.It was an unbelievable feeling.

I never sucked at kickball again, my friends. In fact, from that day forward, I was the one of the best players in our school. All because of that one kick.

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