My first experience with after-work leagues came about five years ago, when a coworker needed a ride to the field for his ultimate Frisbee game. After dropping him off, I decided to stay and watch. The players were actually quite good, and they didn’t seem at all deterred that were playing a sport designed primarily for dogs.
Towards the end of the game, some trash talking on the field degenerated into a fistfight that had to be broken up by the refs. It’s a good thing everyone left their laptops in their cars, or a briefcase-clearing brawl might have ensued. After watching grown men turn violent over a game of Frisbee, I decided that playing in the leagues could never top the entertainment value of spectating at them.
But I started to seriously consider Oliver’s offer a few evenings ago when I got winded retrieving the plastic barrel of cheese balls from the top shelf of the pantry. Also, an evening of playing basketball would have helped preemptively counteract the Girl Scout cookies that were due any day.
Of course, the Girl Scout and her mother stopped by to take orders on the Saturday that my wife Kara was out of town, and my buddy Derek and I were playing Assassin’s Creed at two in the afternoon, still wearing our bedheads and pajama pants, sitting on the couch in full view of the window by the front door. If the Girl Scout had been a velociraptor, maybe we could have fooled her by remaining motionless, which was pretty much what we were doing anyway.
At least the best Girl Scout cookies, the ones with coconut waxed on, only have about three in a box, so they can’t be that bad for you. The rest of the box is occupied by plastic spacers that are wide enough to separate tractor tires. I don’t know what would happen if those cookies touched each other, but judging from the security measures that have been put in place, it must be something akin to what happens in Star Trek when there’s a breach in the antimatter containment field.
Unfortunately, I had no choice but to greet our neighbors unshaven and unshowered, hopefully ordering enough cookies to compensate for my appearance. In an ideal world, when they come back by to drop the cookies off, my pants won’t have penguins on them. In any event, it’s time to alarm the end of the driveway so I at least have time to put on a hoody.
Given those circumstances, I decided to go ahead and play ball with Oliver’s team. We were about thirty seconds into the game when I realized my mistake. These were the guys who MADE the team in high school, even if some of them had done so before the invention of the internal combustion engine.
I learned that night that old, short and bald guys (with ponytails, somehow) who had only minutes before been smoking by the door to the gym can very easily still be way better at basketball than you. And by you I mean me.
On a breakaway about halfway through the game, one guy from the other team dunked. It wasn’t like he just barely made it, either. It looked like one of the slow-mo dunks from the old Nintendo game Double Dribble, but with better graphics.
At least I’ll have my three Samoas soon with which to console myself.
You can alley Mike Todd’s oop at firstname.lastname@example.org.