Jeff Ackerman: Fly ball folly
I knew the day would eventually arrive when my wife would have to help me put on my boxer shorts and drive me to town. I just didn’t think that day would come this quickly.
Welcome to my new world, a sneak peek of near-total dependency most all of us will experience before we fall to sleep on the wrong side of the dirt.
Great thing about Senior Softball is that it allows us to play after we are 50. Great bunch of guys who still love to get out on the field and throw the ball around (sometimes pausing to actually catch it).
Bad thing about Senior Softball is that it is played by … well … seniors.
That’s why I’m sitting here with a cast up to my crotch and why I need help putting my pants on. I broke my ankle and a leg bone (the preliminary results were not favorable) playing softball Saturday. Against my wife’s wishes.
“You are already limping, but if you want to go out and hurt yourself worse than you already are, go ahead,” were the last words out of her mouth Saturday morning.
“Don’t worry,” I told her. “I’m a big boy.”
A big boy who can’t put his pants on by himself today.
I actually played two games Saturday morning. My team played first and then the manager of the next game asked if I’d play for his team. “Sure,” I said. “Love to.”
Late in the game the batter hit a fly ball to my side of the infield. I knew I’d have to scramble back to get it, so I told my legs to get going. When you get older, you need to give your body parts some instructions. Sometimes they listen and sometimes they turn a deaf ear. This time my legs actually got the signal from my brain and starting running toward the outfield.
Meanwhile, the outfielder was giving his body similar instructions, only forward. Both of us were looking up and on a collision course.
My brain failed to make that calculation. Probably because it’s tough enough keeping track of me, let alone the outfielder. I remember seeing the ball floating through the late summer sky and thinking I might actually catch it. I wondered how good the cold shower would feel and … at the last minute … I even heard angels who later turned out to be the other players yelling for us to stop running.
Then we collided and I heard a couple of pops and cracks coming from my leg as it was folded over by the outfielder’s body. A Saturday ballet gone terribly wrong.
When you get old it takes longer for the signal from the brain to reach your body. My wife would argue that sometimes the signal never leaves the brain at all, which is why she’s always asking if I’ve heard from it lately.
If you have been with your body as long as I have, you get to know it pretty well. Certainly well enough to be candid with one another.
“Dumb ass!” my leg shouted to my brain, just as we collided. “Why didn’t you just go to the Italian Festival and drink beer like I told you to?”
“Because we love softball?” my brain weakly responded, trying to avoid the excruciating pain that was firing through its receptors.
“Wrong answer!” the leg shouted. “Let’s see how you like me now.”
I wanted to cry, but there were too many guys around, so I simply let them carry me from the field and sit me on the bench.
“I’ll wait here until the game is over,” I told them, trying my best to be a brave little soldier.
“What else are you going to do, dipstick,” my leg chimed in. “I’m broken and you are so screwed.”
They say I could be in the cast for six to eight weeks, which means I ought to be fine just in time for ice fishing season. By that time maybe I’ll have figured out how to put my pants on, or go to the bathroom without help. It takes time to figure these things out when the signal to your brain has been violently disrupted.
On the plus side, my brain will have a lot of time to remind my body that it isn’t 21 years old anymore and that it’s time to dummy up.
Jeff Ackerman is the editor/publisher of The Union. His column appears on Tuesdays. Contact him at 477-4299, firstname.lastname@example.org, or 464 Sutton Way, Grass Valley 95945.
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