Sunday afternoon I had one of those experiences that brought to light some of my less glamorous idiosyncrasies. Now, in order for the following to make some sort of sense, I'll remind you that I tend to be somewhat . . . introverted. It's also helpful to know that I'm rather sensitive. My husband would say that I'm highly sensitive. He's probably right. My sister would quote Mrs. Elton: "She's a Very Fragile Creature."
I don't want to dwell too much on over-analyzed personality labels, but, as Dickens said in A Christmas Carol of dead-as-a-doornail Marley, "This must be
distinctly understood, or nothing wonderful can come of the story I am
going to relate." And so I continue.
Jamie plays basketball on Sunday afternoons with a church league in Camas. I've only been able to go to a couple of games, but they're fun and it's great to see him enjoying something he loves to do. Well this past Sunday the teams were quite small (four on four, poor panting guys) which meant that the cheering section was also quite small. As in, there were three wives and a miscellaneous slew o' children. (Ours weren't among them.)
Generally, willing score and time keepers emerge from among these women. I like to avert my gaze when these women are appealed to. Because why on earth would I want to do that? You'll perhaps recall that there were three women scattered across the bleachers. This meant that most of us would have to be involved this time around. A sense of foreboding filled that gym.
The refs and players looked to the stands as the warmup ended. I could hear them talking. "We'll need a scorekeeper." My gaze? Averted. So averted. I pretended to be really busy. Unfortunately I had nothing in my hands, making my ruse less effective. I glanced toward the other women. One was making her way toward the timer. She'd been snagged, the poor dear. I wondered if I should go ahead and volunteer the other lady. She only had half a dozen kids milling about her, clamoring for her attention. Clearly she would be able to focus on keeping score. Yes, it should be her.
And then my husband glanced my way, eyebrows lifted, hopeful. What could I do? I smiled, picked up my purse and gingerly stepped toward the score flipper-thingy. (I don't even know what it's called. This is how qualified I am.) We were seated in those awkward, mostly folded up bleachers, so they were even more difficult to navigate than ordinary bleachers. And they had protruding bars to cross. And I was wearing a skirt. I approached a bar, wondering if I should swing (Gene Kelly style) to the left or to the right. I chose left. I promptly knocked over the timer. This is a loud thing when it happens in a gym. A ref was quick to put it back in order and reset it ("I don't think it's broken," he mumbled) and I blushingly assumed my position behind the horrid score flipper-thingy.
The game started and I was incredibly relieved to note that the team colors matched the score cards. Red and blue. I could do that. But it was the math that concerned me. All that adding. Our team suddenly hit their first shot and I scooted to the edge of the bleachers, confidently flipping over a two. Not bad! The ref looked my way and shook his head, pointing. Perhaps I had the colors mixed up? I peered over the top of the score flipper-thingy. This was difficult. Those numbers. Upside-down and backwards. The ref pointed and pantomimed, trying to keep his eye on the game. And then I got it. I had flipped the wrong two. I had given us 20 points. Blushing yet again, I moved the ones instead and put the tens back.
Never have I been so focused on a game. Never have I counted by twos in my head for so many minutes in a row. Never have I so feared the occasional three pointer. This meant turning three flaps on the correct side, and when it involved changing the ones and the tens, well, it was just a lot to think about.
The minutes ticked by. (The dear girl next to me had her finger poised, ready to smack that timer. She was a calming presence in my time of trial.) I began to get my groove. I began to grow accustomed to the strong vinyl scent that wafted my way every time I flipped a number. It was only slightly unnerving that whenever a basket was scored ten men looked my way. I know they were looking at the score, but still. It was like they were grading my math homework or something.
It was around halftime that I was feeling fairly confident. It was also around this time that one of the larger players sat down on the bleachers nearby, shaking the seat and knocking over the score flipper-thingy. Of course it totally looked like I kicked it over. I had no idea what the score even was. Thankfully, the refs did. With their help, I brought the score back to its proper place and hoped that those final 20 minutes would be uneventful.
The guys, meanwhile, were panting and sweating. Four on four is rough. Their threes weren't as accurate anymore (that was okay with me) and even the twos were becoming few and far between. It made my vinyl-scented job easier, I must say. And then my phone beeped. A text. My poor nerves. There was just no way. No way I could read it and keep score at the same time. It beeped again. I ignored it. I had to remain focused.
Finally, the buzzer sounded. I released my shoulders (which had been in knots for an hour), checked my phone, and breathed a sigh of relief. I did it. I kept score. I did math with a dozen people glancing my way every two seconds. And so I overcame. In that tiny little situation (which, to many of you would be a walk in the park) I had no choice but to do . . . and I did.
Jamie and I walked out of that gym, smiling and exhausted. Unfortunately, we were also defeated. Our team didn't even win. But don't ask me what the final score was. I honestly have no idea.