He can surf, play cricket and kick a footie. But, softball? That’s just not part of an Australian boy’s childhood.
And yet, this year, at the friendly urging of a mate, my husband joined a softball team. To them, this group of Canadian men, my husband, the Australian, must seem like an innocuous mascot that they’ve good-naturedly adopted onto the team.
My husband, for his part, can’t think of a better way to spend a summer evening than with a good group of guys who never fails to share a beer at the end of the game. Despite this, the sport still holds its curiosities for him.
The first, and most undeniable, being baseball pants. Polyester and tight-fitting along the legs, then meeting at the inseam to form an enormous spout-shape, these pants seem styled specifically for Fred Flintstone himself. “I guess it’s to fit in the beer belly,” shrugs my lanky husband.
As a newbie to the sport, he’s made his share of embarrassing firsts. Like sliding into first plate, and running on a fly ball. He’s also had his first sports injury – a twisted ankle, which he immediately feared might keep him away from his true love — mountain climbing. But fortunately, has not.
He’s quickly returned to the team and the weekly games. This week, he admitted a bit bashfully before heading out to the game that he’s still hoping to finally catch his first ball as an outfielder. “I feel like a 40-year-old virgin,” he laughed, “I’ve built up the experience so much now that I think I’ve created a psychological barrier.”
Having been relegated to the right outfield countless times as a kid, I could immediately relate to that heart-thumping feeling when the hard thwack of a bat sent the ball sailing in the air right towards – gulp! — me. It’s like the world is in slow-motion, with all eyes trained on you as you grapple from left to right, and back again, desperately aiming your glove to be directly underneath the ball as it loses its air.
During that same night’s game, their informal coach nodded him out to the left field. The hits had been landing mostly right field, so it was a safer spot to place the Australian. I can just picture my husband at this moment, good naturedly chuckling at this suggestion as he jogged out to take his place.
When he got home though, he looked jubilant. “You got one?” I asked. “Not just one, but TWO,” he replied. Really, the man looked so pleased with himself that he should have been smoking a cigarette.
I asked for the play-by-play and we howled as he described the whole team rising up from the bench, desperately shouting out instructions to their Aussie left- fielder, and then breaking out in a loud, joyful cheer when he caught the ball — his very first one. “You could tell the other team couldn’t understand what all the big fuss was about,” he spluttered between our bouts of laughter.
After regaining my breath, I say, “I have the perfect title for my next blog post. I’ll call it ‘the 40-year-old virgin.’”
“No,” he corrects me, “it should be ‘the 40-year-old-virgin gets laid.’”