Although in the past few years I’ve managed to achieve some exceedingly minor success in one sport, my athletic career and athletic abilities have always been very dodgy. This is the progeny of a lethal combination of tall, skinny, slight swayback, lack of patience and disproportionately large feet.
Oh, and there’s that lack of natural talent thing.
As a result of all that, I was not only the last person picked for any team, but there was usually some serious wheeling and dealing about who had to take me. “You take Spaceman.””No, you take him.” “Okay, we’ll take Spaceman but you have to take all our girls and give us Matt.” “You can have Danny or Wayne, but we’re keeping Matt.” Etcetera.
(NB: I went through a number of nicknames while I was growing up: Spaceman, because I like science fiction; Livery, because some semi-literate moron misread my name over the intercom when I won a free book from the library; and Deadly, because my name is Lively. Only in a small town could that latter name be an insult and a sign of weakness.)
On one occasion we were playing “Some Form of Football” (not its real name). Because there was a lack of violence and fear involved, it must have been during physical education class. As a rule, I was usually in the part of the field where little action was taking place or, more specifically, the action usually avoided my part of the field.
However, on that day, the play swung toward me. A pass was thrown and either the intended receiver or the defender tipped it but couldn’t control it and it deflected toward me. I stepped forward, caught the ball a couple feet off the ground and ran into the end zone.
I was really happy in my moment of triumph and success but I was the only one celebrating. My exhortations that “I scored. I scored.” were met by puzzled looks as everyone tried to remember whose team I was on.
I finally convinced Joel Williams, my team’s captain, that I was on his team and suitable congratulations and praise were delivered. I didn’t score again, probably ever, but knowing me I talked about that score for a quite a while.
My sports career didn’t improve much after that. I ran track in junior high school. At one point I was almost an average miler. I also played basketball in junior high school and for a year in high school. I never mastered the lay up. The more open I was, the worse it got. I eventually gave up being a player to become the junior varsity manager.
That I have a letterman’s jacket with a letter is one of the greatest jokes I’ve ever been able to pull off.