November 13, 2007
While the Lady Aggies and Davis may still have matches left in their seasons, Erin's Mystic '97 and my SMC team closed the book on our seasons last weekend. At first I thought I'd have to coach Erin's final game with her sitting beside me on the bench.
The previous Saturday, her team had done a miserable job with air balls (in soccer, as opposed to basketball, air balls are not necessarily a bad thing. It just means the ball's trajectory moves through the air rather than along the ground. It also often means that you have to stop the ball, midflight, with some body part other than your foot.). I can't really imagine why smallish children would duck when sharply struck balls zipped towards them rather than directing them down to their feet with their foreheads or maybe even their soft underbellies, but ducking, followed by chasing was the dominant strategy for that game. Anyway, because of that shortcoming in their collective game, Elvis spent time on air balls and heading in practice last Tuesday. At the end of the drill he encouraged them to practice at home. As encouragement, he told them that anyone who couldn't do two consecutive headers, without catching the ball in between would have to do fitness (translation: run repeated sprints) the whole practice on Thursday.
Well, Erin forgot to practice heading on Wednesday, leading to a tearful bedtime on Wednesday night. I reassured her that she could take a ball to school on Thursday and practice at recess and again after school if she needed to. Unfortunately, even after two practice sessions, Erin couldn't bop the ball up in the air twice without catching it. She was in a funk and didn't want to go to practice.
I tried calming words ("I'm sure it will go better once you're out at the field."). No use.
I tried logic ("It's unreasonable to believe that Elvis could actually expect anyone to run sprints for an hour and a half.)." No use.
I tried a lot of other things.
Finally, I tried guilt. "Erin, you can't just skip practice. People are depending on you. You can't let your team down. You signed up to play soccer. If you don't want to practice, you shouldn't sign up for soccer next season."
To which Erin replied, "That's just it, mom. I signed up for soccer, not for fitness. I want to play soccer, not just run sprints."
To which I replied. . .well I couldn't think of anything to reply (note bene: even though I had no reply, I made Erin go to practice anyway, because I didn't want to bench her for her last game).
Luckily for me, Elvis had a plan. After about fifteen minutes the entire team had successfully headed the ball at least three times in a row, including Erin who mastered that feat no fewer than six times in that fifteen minute period, and no one did fitness.
I'm not sure if that was the key, but the Mystic '97 closed out their season with their only shut out, a 3-0 win that convinced me that they knew something about soccer and maybe even a little bit about handling air balls. Afterwards, we celebrated surviving our inaugural season with a cookout.
One of the dads had offered to cook hamburgers for everyone, and another dad brought a large round pit (think something that might be mistaken for a small UFO on a dark night) to the fields that could handle dozens of burgers at once. I didn't know if anyone had actually taken responsibility for cooking the meat, so I suggested to Walter that he bring his charcoal starting chimney and take charge if it looked like no one else was primed. When everyone gathered at the pavilion after the game, we found the huge pit, full of charcoal, but no fire, no glowing embers, and no browned burgers. I gave Walter the signal, and he trotted to his car. Within minutes he had retrieved the chimney, stuffed one end with charcoal and the other with newspaper, and lit the paper. Worked like a charm (for the risk averse among you, this is positively the quickest, safest, most efficient way to light charcoal).
Worked like a charm, that is, unless you are a risk-loving pyromaniac with body parts to spare. Soon after Walter had the charcoal started, another dad came striding up, laden with the haul from his latest mission. That's right. He had managed to procure two jumbo-sized bottled of lighter fluid, which he proceeded to sprinkle, squirt, spray, dump, and/or jet directly onto the charcoal, causing flames to leap up like the Alvin Ailey Dance Troupe in its prime and threaten to shorten sideburns, eye brows, and possibly underarm hair. Several moms looked up from a distance, yawned like they saw things burst into flames at home every single day, commented on the testosterone fest, and returned to noshing chips and chatting. I pointed out that only Walter had had enough sense to back away, and before anyone could comment on his lack of testosterone, I announced to the women seated near me that he had plenty in the testosterone department to spare. No wonder all the soccer moms were eying him the rest of the evening.
Yesterday, I figured out the answer to the question that had popped up several times that evening and the following day: what are you going to do with all your spare time, now that soccer has ended?
You may remember my mother and I are the sole members of the Cypress Road Mother/Daughter Book Club. A couple of years ago, we decided that we had missed a number of great books (or maybe just forgotten them), so we started taking turns picking a "classic" for fun and pleasure. We've read (off the top of my head):
Nathaniel Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter
Miguel de Cervante's Don Quixote
Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina
Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels
Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice
Virginia Wolfe's Mrs. Dalloway
Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness
E.M. Forster's A Passage to India
Henry David Thoreau's Walden
and taken a pass at Ovid's Metamorphoses and The Koran.
I finished Walden a few weeks ago and started filling in my bedtime reading with cheap mysteries. It was clearly time to get back to the Mother/Daughter Reading Club. Saturday night, armed with our internet list of great books and some adult bevs for inspiration, we began the process of choosing a new selection. There really isn't a system. We've heard of most of the books on the list, but don't really know much about any of them. My turn to choose, so I laid out three suggestions: St. Augustine's Confessions, Dante's Divine Comedy, and Proust's Remembrance of Things Past. Proust is a 20th century writer, so we thought we would take it easy on ourselves and choose that one and leave the ancient (or at least extremely old) texts for another day when we felt heartier (I'll bet you former English Lit majors are chortling to yourselves at this point).
I got a chance to stop by Barnes & Noble yesterday while Erin was at piano lessons. I found Proust easily enough. What I hadn't realized was that Remembrance of Things Past was a circular novel, most well-known for its extended length (the first of three volumes exceeds 900 pages and the set weighs in at 7.2 pounds for the paperback edition). I also learned that in the most recent translation the name was changed to more accurately reflect the original. Now it's In Search of Lost Time. What better way to spend my newly found free time than immersed in a search for lost time?
Let me know when it's soccer season again, so I can give up some of this free time.