Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Soccer Part

Monday night, the kids are finally down, so here I go: change into sports bra and soccer gear, check; brush teeth, check; flaccid old pink hair elastic, check; short black athletic socks, actually matching, check; keys and phone and money, check; stop for cleats that must be kept outside because otherwise our whole house smells like feet, check; Clash London Calling CD on in the car, set to track #5, check. It’s 9:00pm and I can finally back out of the driveway.

Two and a half minute drive to the field. The Clash egging me on. I’m off to play soccer with fit young men, most at least 15 years younger than me. Most very tolerant of me. But still, I must concentrate. I must imagine it. I must repeat it, my mantra: No accidents. No injuries. I sit and pull on my socks, cleats, and cheap neoprene knee brace, and put my hair in a ponytail. I say hello to a few of the guys. I stretch out my quads, my hamstrings. I tell myself When I leave, I am going to walk off the field, all tired and sweaty, but glad that I went. ( Walk is the key word here, of course, because if I am walking, I am not being carried off on a stretcher.) Warm up by passing the ball back and forth with a few fellows in a circle. The odd shot on goal as practice – usually sailing over the net, rather than into it. A yellow pinney on - the worst colour for me, really, terrible with my skin tone. Wonder briefly if any of the guys ever think about how yellow goes with their skin tone? Ha. And away we go.

For the next one and a half hours, I am golden. I am running, I am tackling, I am passing, I am crossing, I am shooting, I am calling, I am laughing, I am teasing, and occasionally, I am scoring. Occasionally.

Of course there are times when it is not all golden– like when I give away a terrible pass to the other team, or take a ball off the face from Bruce, or call for it when I’m wide open on the right, but never see the ball - those times are less golden. But overall, still fun.

Of course the pub afterwards doesn’t hurt either. Five or six of us go, sometimes more, and we order a beer, and then because of some kind of policy for sports teams, we get a free pitcher. We talk about all the sports highlights we see on TV. When soccer comes on, we compare our skills with the pros. (Somehow we keep a straight face when we do this.) We talk about all the good or terrible or questionable or gossipy things from the game we just played. Everyone who scored that night manages to work it into the conversation.

Other girls never go to the pub. Occasionally, they’ll play with us, but never drink afterwards. I take flak for this. Not from the boys, but from other people I know that go to the pub and happen to see me. Like friends husbands, of course, who pop in to watch football with a buddy or who just finished playing a hockey game...and who don’t know this part of my life. Or older guys I know from my summer softball league. “Cathy?! Watcha doin?” they call out loudly, genuinely wondering what I am doing sitting in the pub with all these young men. I smile and wave from my little coterie of soccer studs who are all surrounding me, looking at me with quiet awe. Somehow magically my hair no longer looks soaked and limp and my face isn’t covered in dry sweat, makeup-less and ruddy. I am glowing. I am beautiful. I am golden again.

Okay, I may have just made up that last part.

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