I was walking home this morning, when something strange happened. This white van man beeped at me twice, and once he had my attention, he gave me the old Agincourt salute. After wishing for a half second that all four wheels of his van would fall off simultaneously, I realised with surprise that he did this with two children sitting in the front of the van with him.
Maybe he thought that I was someone else, and thought that it would be funny to give some abuse as he went past. I did check later, I don’t think I was wearing my “Please Pick on Me” sign over my coat. Or he could have been a Van Dyke. Think of the first name. Whatever the reason, was this a good example to be setting to children?
Any hew, it got me thinking of another time I got picked on for no reason at all.
When I played softball for London Electricity there was a Canadian girl by the name of Crista who played with the team for a season and a half before heading back to her own side of the Atlantic.
She was a bit of a loner and I did try and talk to her a couple of times, but it was hard work. We didn’t really have too much in common. It was mainly the boring and polite things you talk about in an attempt to not cause offense. We didn’t gravitate towards each other, and I don’t remember ever doing anything that would have gotten myself into too much trouble.
We found ourselves facing mid table mediocrity going into the final game of the season against another team that had nothing to play for. What the Ohm Runners lacked in skill, we made up with enthusiasm and twelve of us turned up for the final game. Unfortunately, our opposition only had seven players and only one woman.
Rather than abandoning the game, we decided to loan our opposition a woman and a man so that we could get a game in before going to the pub. Officially, it would be a ten nil victory to us. It would be one of our more famous victories, as we didn’t win many. But at least, we could get one last run about before the end of the season.
After a quick think, our captain decided that Crista and I would play for the opposition to even the teams out. I was going to pull triple duty, umpire for both teams and also play catcher for our opposition. I was fine with it, but Crista just exploded.
“There’s no way I’m going to play on the same team as Emmett.” Crista screamed. I was flabbergasted, and in shock as was both teams. She continued, “It’s my last game and if given the choice I don’t want to have him on my team.” She then started walking over to me screeching that she had never liked me from day one, and wanting to know why I kept on talking to her.
At this point, teammates jumped in pulling her away from me. I stood there in a daze, not knowing how to react and wishing that the ground would just swallow me. Most of the team pointed out that it would be best if Crista just walked away, but she was adamant that if there was a game she was playing.
What surprised me was how quickly everyone came to my defence. I was touched by what they said, and quickly came to the realisation that I just wanted to play. I didn’t want to ruin everyone’s last game of the season. I told everyone that I was fine to play, but that it would be best to keep Crista and me on separate teams.
The polite thing to say now was that once I got over the shock I let things flow around me and I was fine. That would be a lie. After getting over the shock, I was well and truly peeved.
After everyone had calmed down, our captain decided that I wouldn’t be playing for the opposition and got someone else to play for them instead. The opposition wasn’t happy about a mad woman playing for them.
I had never, will ever play a game with so much bubbling underneath the surface. Crista had become a leper to both teams. I think that she stayed for high-mindedness. Everyone was keeping very quiet as no one wanted to see another incident.
Now, there was a theory within the team that I played better when I was upset, as I was more focused. I’m a natural slap hitter, so I hit a large amount of ground balls, but I was very accurate in finding the infield gaps. I had a high batting average, but I didn’t hit for much power. Normally, I ended up on first base.
Crista was playing second base, and when I came to bat for the first time I was still really peeved. When the first pitch came in, I cracked it aiming to hit it over the second base bag into the outfield. I got a little bit in front of the ball and hit a zinger, which never got more than six feet in the air straight at Crista’s head.
Even though the ball was never going to hit her, self-preservation kicked in and she dived to the ground rather than trying to catch the ball. Everyone had a giggle about her diving out of the way, and as I pulled in for my double I smiled in her general direction. I was waiting for her to say something to me, and I even had a reply ready, but she didn’t say anything.
The remainder of the game was uneventful, I can’t even remember who won. When the game finished, as tradition dictated, both teams went to the pub where we drowned our sorrows. I kept on being asked if I aimed it at her, to which I said that I wasn’t that good.
I don’t remember Crista going to the pub, or even if she came to the end of season dinner. Oh well, good riddance to bad rubbish and all that.