Softball + Life

My least favorite question in social situations is “So what do you do?”

I internally cringe when answering. I also, since I’ve had practice over the last five years on crafting my story, usually read from my mental script. If I have a prepared speech, it is easy to speed through the details and not give the asker an inch to maneuver and make me feel ashamed or embarrassed. And there have been good stretches of time since we started moving around where I have answered that question with confidence. But, usually, I offer up my answer much like I used to pitch in softball. I let go of the ball (in this story the ball = my answer) and then I turn my back and duck. Preferring that, if I’m going to get hit, I get hit in the back of the head rather than my face.  I answer their (your) innocent, well-meaning question, then I internally hover and turn around, hoping the line of questioning is finished.

Let’s go on a trip down memory lane. I played softball until 8th grade. In my small town we were primarily in a slow-pitch league, but the last couple years I played we also were our town’s first ever fast-pitch team. In that league we played against mostly bigger towns 90 min. away, but our t-shirt uniforms were teal, our team name was the Marlins, and we were sponsored by the local hardware store.

Before we were the Marlins and playing fast-pitch (which, as a “pitcher” I’m not sure anything about my pitches were “fast” except that I swung my arm around crazily vs. just lobbing the ball in the air), we were purple and had sleeveless uniforms – trailblazers! My mom, Brenda, coached with her best friend, Brenda. We were good. We played towns in similar size or even smaller. Sometimes our fields were an oasis along gravel roads. We could have very well literally played on some gravel because that dirt was NOT very nice to your upper thigh when you slid into home.

Rural areas are blessed with few options, making my some of my food memories very vivid. The only “fast food” that was usually on the way home from our games was either Subway, Taco Johns, or Dairy Queen. Hot Eats, Cool Treats. Potato Oles. Footlong Pizza Subs. All God’s greatest gifts.

During one summer softball season, there was also this trend where friends and I wore around boxer shorts like they were today’s lulu yoga pants. We were tired of wearing black mesh shorts for every GD activity and I guess this was our way of expressing ourselves? The boxers HAD to be the ones with the small button to close that… you know…opening. And if they were too big you rolled the waste-band. The flannel ones were the best. I swear there was a time I wore the boxers IN a game, but maybe we never wore the boxers for an actual game, just practice? Thinking on it more, seeing my mom was the coach there is no way I wore BOXERS in an ACTUAL game. Right? No way.

And the footwear…Almost all of us who played softball played soccer. This meant you already had soccer cleats, so why would you get special cleats for softball? That would be silly.

All of my wardrobe and pitching shenanigans aside, in the slow-pitch league we were gooooood. And when we switched to fast-pitch, even though we were a much smaller town, we were competitive and able to hold our own in a league with bigger teams with things like tryouts! As much as I despised pitching, I liked playing the infield and I could, to quote my mom, “Hit the snot off the ball.” One time in a tournament I hit so many home runs (remember a home run doesn’t have to go over the fence) that the other team accused me of being too old for the league. Ha! Keep in mind we played the same set of teams over and over, summer after summer, so you know who to expect. And I was not too old, I was just better than them.  I mean Ken Griffey Jr. was my icon at the time, what did they expect?!

Eventually, when I moved to Iowa, I quit softball because it was in the same season as soccer. And as baller as I was at softball, I was actually better at soccer. (My ego is feeling gooooood today, can you tell?)

Dang, I just hit an in-the-park home run.  I win.

Softball nostalgia aside, when people pitch me those questions I don’t like to answer I’m trying not to turn and duck. I try to answer confidently, sometimes defensively, preemptively rationalizing my position to them as I go because I feel my answer will be judged and not met with a ohhhhs and ahhhhs. Hit the ball at my face, at the back of my head, at my knees, wherever. Life is good and I’m doing ok.


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