At risk of having to default, the Noogles softball team was in desperate need of a second female player for their game two Wednesdays ago. They were so desperate that they accepted my reluctant offer to play. What were they thinking? At any rate, they accepted. Now, I really didn't expect to have to run, since I was going to be placed at home plate as the catcher (not a strategically important role in three-pitch softball), and the only other reason to run would be if I managed to hit the ball when I was at bat. That wasn't a likely scenario.
Not having thrown or caught a ball or swung a bat in, oh, twenty years or more, I thought I could use a little practice. Okay, a lot of practice, but since I only came up with the idea ten minutes before game time, a little would have to do. Following Scott's pointers, I managed to jam my right index finger on my third try at catching. If you've ever jammed your finger, you'll be cringing right now. A jammed finger happens when an idiot like me allows the ball to hit a straight finger head-on. It really freakin' hurts. My finger turned red and swelled up and stung like a sonofabitch. I'd like to blame my jammed finger for the fact that I threw like a girl for the entire game, but that would be disingenuous.
Here's the weird part. When I was at bat, sure, I swung like I was holding a sledgehammer and I missed the ball most of the time, but occasionally I connected. And some of those times, I made it to first base. A few times, with the help of decent batters, I actually made it home. And hey, I even had an RBI!
But the running, my friends, the running. It wasn't pretty. It made me wonder how I managed to participate (however briefly) in marathon training several years ago. I guess the difference is that the training was also many pounds ago. I wanted to get on base, I really did, so it wasn't for lack of desire that I struggled so much. No matter how hard I tried to sprint, I felt like more like an elephant trying to escape quicksand.
In the bottom of the final inning I crossed that plate, with two other runners right on my heels, and when the last player reached the plate we won by one run! That felt good. It felt really, really good. For about three minutes. Then I felt my body.
And I wanted to die.
I spent about four days wanting to die, in fact. Four days during which my jammed finger turned blue, then purple, then almost black, then back to just about normal, except for discolouration beneath the nail. Four days during which my thighs felt twice as fat as they actually are, my back cried out for rest, and my feet cursed me for my foolishness. Four days during which Scott just shook his head whenever he looked at my colour-changing finger or saw me limping around, groaning and creaking. Then, a couple of days later, I turned 35. I may not be the oldest person in the Noogle group, but I'm officially retiring. It's time for me to return my borrowed glove and to put on a leisure suit, because from now on it's all about mall-walking and tai chi for me. Minus the tai chi. That's too strenuous.