Thursday 10 July 2014

Yin and Yang

I am not a joiner as a rule. I have never liked team sports although I have played them in the past. Never very well of course, but I did try.

When I was about eight or so, I was in a bowling league and every Saturday morning I my parents would take me to the alley and while I bowled, they would drink coffee, smoke and talk to the other parents that were wasting Saturday morning watching their kids bowl. I was on a team I guess, but as far as I was concerned I bowled for myself. I was pretty good for a young kid, and even managed a trophy for best two game total of 449. 450 is a perfect game, so in my mind I was one pin away from a perfect game.

I still have that trophy, in a box, in the basement, under other forgotten boxes. It is a gold (coloured) bowler just about to release the ball towards the inevitable strike, on a four inch cream coloured pedestal. On the front of the pedestal is a gold (coloured) plaque that has my name, the date and my accomplishment. I was and have always been proud of that trophy. It isn’t like all of the other phoney participant ribbons, tiny trophies that everyone on the team got, this was an actual accomplishment.

There was a time in high school that I discovered that the trophy was hollow and by sliding the plaque up and cutting a hole behind it, I had a perfect little hiding place. No one would suspect there might be illicit things inside the trophy that had been on my dresser since I was eight. Well, I never actually kept anything illegal inside the house, but if I had, it would have been in my bowling trophy.

Just about the same time, I was in Cubs. I didn’t really like Cubs that much, because we didn’t ever do anything neat. We would learn knots, and work on other badges but it all seemed just a little too much like school to me. There was an incident where I had to answer a million questions and once done, I earned a star that went on my hat. It was called having one eye open I think. The testing was done by Baloo but the next week when the Akelah came back he told me that I would have to do the testing all over again. I’m sure I cried. I was never very good with tests, and to have to do over a test that I had already done was too much for me to take. I’m pretty sure that my brother suggested that we stop going to cubs and take the dues we paid every week and buy candy with it.

Every week we would put our uniforms on, get our dues from dad and go to the Parkway Plaza smoke shop and buy as much candy as we could get for cub dues. Back in those days, it was a lot of candy. We would sit eating candy and talking until we saw kids in cub uniforms walking home, which was our cue to head home ourselves. Mom and dad would ask how cubs were that night and we would give the standard kid answer of “Okay.” They would ask what we did and we’d say “Nothing.” We finished the year stuffing our faces with candy every Tuesday night and for some reason that I can’t remember neither Steve nor I ever went back to scouts.

I kind of miss the Tuesday night candy.

I remember a couple of summers when I was signed up to play baseball. My dad loved baseball! My brother was star pitcher on the team. I hated baseball! They put me in left field where I could do the least damage when I screwed up. I spent every game praying that no one hit the ball to me when the team was in the field, and when we were at bat, I prayed that the three kids ahead of me would strike out; I would be walked or hit with the ball. Being hit with the ball was rare, but somehow being hit by a ball made me feel like a real ball player. Well, until the game was over and my dad would say “Good game Stevie! Did you have fun Kenny?”

Did I have fun? What a stupid question? I just spent two hours being the main course at a mosquito picnic, doing something that I should be getting therapy for even now and to make matters worse, my brother was the best player on the team. Strangely enough, I have kept that glove for fifty years. I don’t know why, but every now and then I will look in a box, in the basement, under other forgotten boxes and sitting side by side is my bowling trophy and my baseball glove. Yin and yang.

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