If you read my previous blog post, “Two And a Half Years of Foosball Mania,” you’ll know that I grew up a tomboy, and I loved to play soccer, arm wrestle, and at times, get into tussles with boys. Therefore, from our first blind date until we reached our early forties, my husband, Troy and I have contended with each other in the realm of sports.
On this first date, we met at a mall and after strolling around there and discussing foosball and pool, Troy drove us to a nearby arcade/pool hall to show each other what we were made of. We both showed our competitive natures in battling on the foosball table, with which I had had previous experience, and Troy had little. I won. Then, we moved to the pool table and shot the cue ball around, knocking it off of striped and solid balls. This time, he had more experience than I did, and he won.
In between visiting each other’s churches at the time, we found another opportunity to wrangle with each other at my church’s pool party. There was a badminton net in the patch of grass by the pool, and the rackets and birdies were there waiting for us. Mind you, we were twenty-six years old, and puberty in my early teens had feminized me to where I had to shower every day, doll myself up everywhere I went, and attending the pool party was no exception. But as soon as I picked up the racket and birdie and eyed Troy through the red net, the excitement of playing the game and beating him coursed through my veins. It was as if the girly in me took a hike, and I was now the powerful, unstoppable badminton freak. Never mind the diving to the ground for the shuttlecock, sweat pouring out of my head and body, I had to hit that blasted bird over the net! While I was scurrying around my side of the grassy field, Troy was doing the same, scooping the birdie here, swatting it over there. At times, though, he missed, and I giggled with glee. But then I’d actually missed a few, and he snickered from his side.
I’m not sure who won that because we both mirrored our misses and hits, but we came away from that short-winded with grins on our glistening faces…well, one of us was glistening. Troy always had the genes or advantage (whatever you want to call it) to not perspire in huge, salty drops down his face like I, unfortunately, do. Let me tell you, I didn’t feel fresh or dry after that game, and it was in the middle of summer in northern Louisiana. Yuck!
Flip the calendar to the summer of 1998 in Dayton, Ohio, in which we’d been married over a year. Troy’s son, Stephen, came for a visitation, and we decided to head out to the nearby ball park to play some baseball. It started out well enough, with each of us taking turns batting and catching and pitching. By the way, Troy knew I could hit the ball because we’d played baseball in one of our rare non-competitive games while dating. Stephen was in the infield waiting for the ball to come his way. Troy threw me a nice underhanded pitch, and I swung the bat, making contact with the ball. It blazed straight back at him–a line drive. It slammed him in his chest. He huffed, the wind knocked out of him, and I froze for a moment, wondering if he was going to keel over and die! I walked over to him, afraid of what I’d done. I asked if he was all right, and he nodded while rubbing his sore chest, and managed to say that he was okay. Well, that ended the game for the day!
Later on, Troy showed me the round, black, blue, and green spot on his chest where the ball had hit him. It missed his heart by inches! Lord, have mercy! That moment always freaked me out, but any time he would tell that story, he’d relay it with a smile and with pride on how well his wife could hit the baseball!
Another incident of competitive tussling in the same year was around Thanksgiving time when Troy’s mom, sister, and his mom’s boyfriend were visiting. We were renting a house in a nice neighborhood in Fairborn, Ohio, when Troy was stationed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. The house had a basketball pole and net cemented into the end of the driveway to the left of the one-car garage. Somehow, while we were out there talking with his mother, et. al., the basketball surfaced, and there was immediately the pulling on shirt sleeves and collars and stumbling around the driveway, half dribbling, half committing holding fouls, as we tried to score two-pointers. I think my mother-in-law thought we were nuts by the look on her face. After some wrestling with the ball and running out of steam, Troy put the ball away, and we limped inside the house.
Between 1998 and 2008, there were skirmishes fought at the local skee ball and basketball hoop machines at fun centers.
Lastly, it was the summer of 2008 in Estes Park, Colorado. We’d lived in Colorado Springs at that time. We’d taken a four-day weekend to spend it in the majestic Rocky Mountains. Our sons, Nicholas, was nine, and Christopher was six at the time. On one of the afternoons, we all decided to go play miniature golf, ride the go karts, and then take several swings at the batting cages. When we’d finished the uneventful miniature golf, we climbed into our go karts–Troy and Christopher were in one, Nicholas was in his own, and I was in my own. This was one sport that we didn’t feel the need to contend, so we drove around the race track with ease, enjoying the experience.
Nicholas rode around the loop like a Sunday driver, relaxed, both hands on the wheel, pleased as punch. Troy and Christopher rode around with a bit more zip and exhuberance. I followed this pattern, although I was more concerned with keeping my kart from hitting anybody else’s. But apparently, I’d accidentally hit the side of the track and someone bumped into my kart’s rear, and the next thing I heard was the PA speaker crackle on, and a male voice tell my kart number to not run into other karts, and if it happened again, I’d have to leave the track! Well, you can imagine my irritation considering I’d not tried to hit anyone, so I carefully finished the last couple of laps when the male voice droned into the loud speaker that the ride was over. Good!
Troy and the boys climbed out of their karts when I did, and we walked toward the batting cages, in which the boys had zero interest. Only Troy and I saw it as an opportunity to beat each other’s batting averages.
The boys wandered outside the batting cage, partly watching us gear up and enter ones next to each other, and partly pawing and studying the bats by the fence. Before we’d put the quarters in to start the pitching machines, we did notice the huge gray storm clouds that had gathered and were looming over us, but that didn’t phase us. Not even when the lightning, thunder, and rain began to gently come down. Nicholas walked over to our cages as Troy and I continued to swing, telling each other how many balls we’d hit thus far. He’d said something like, “Mom, Dad, it’s raining, and look at the lightning!” We mumbled something back at him like, “Yeah, it’s fine. We’ve got to finish up our balls the machine is pitching us.” Nicholas and Christopher took cover under an awning near the batting cages, watching us with frowns. As we held the “lightning rods,” as Troy likes to say with a laugh in the years that followed, we kept on swinging, twisting, and huffing, our aluminum bats hitting the balls with a loud PING! … until…
…The lightning got closer, the rain fell heavily, and the thunder let out a BOOM next to our cages. Well, then, we decided we’d better hang it up, call it a day in the hall of fame of batting averages.
If it weren’t for back problems and carpal tunnel issues, we’d still be jostling today. Cheers to those many years of marital vying in the sports arena!