Archive for the ‘Softball’ Category

Touching Goya

Posted: September 14, 2013 in Softball
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Image  Any time Thunder plays the Bombers I pray to the Goddess that Goya doesn’t hit the ball to me.  This is my game and I’m good at it, but since Goya joined the league three years ago my knees go weak whenever she strides to the plate.

She’s tall, young, sexy and as cool as an avocado in the refrigerator.  She doesn’t seem to want anything to do with a boring white chick like me, but I foam over her anyway.  Last year she said hi to me once and I recorded the moment by taking a mental photo of her standing there in the park, ivory teeth gleaming against her smooth terra cotta skin.  She was warming up before a Bomber game against Las Fuertes, gracefully playing catch with a teammate, her long, slender fingers delicately gripping and releasing the ball.  I remember wishing Goya were her glove and I, her softball, leather fitting snugly inside leather.

I must have been drooling when I said hi and smiled back because Goya has not looked at me since.  Not one glance when her team beat mine in the final regular-season meeting between us last August.  Not one word when Thunder went on to victory over the Bombers in the championship game last September.  Nothing but chilly silence despite all the usual camaraderie, and even the occasional torrid love affair, between the members of our two teams.

So the Bombers were winning by a few runs in the middle of our game last Wednesday night.  They had a runner at first and a runner at second.  There was one out.  Ann was pitching well and I was confident Thunder would pull together to turn the game around.

On any other night I’d be over at second base, breathing nervously and trying to concentrate, remembering with each pitch what I would do if the ball came to me.  But tonight was different.  I had inserted myself at first because Laura, out regular first base player, was at school, acing her final exam.  When Goya stepped up to bat, I was playing behind the runner and close to the line, a position I would take up against any decent lefty.

Ann looked around and reminded the infielders that the play was at third.  She inspired us to be calm and play with poise, assuring us all that we could get an out and quell this Bomber threat.

In an attempt to focus my mind on absolutely nothing but softball, softball, softball, I squinted my eyes just slightly and tried to relax.  My gaze settled casually upon that magical space above home plate, between the batter’s knees and sweaty armpits, extending out towards the pitcher’s mound to define the area where all the action in a game originates.  It is the zone of emptiness that shimmers and shifts the most on hot, hazy, sweltering days.  It is a column of air untouched, serene, until a twentysomething-ounce aluminum shaft slices through it to meet or miss the offered pitch.  It is the area I carefully patrol with my vision in the hopes of getting a good jump on any batted ball.

When batters hit the first pitch they do the opposing team a huge favor.  There’s less time to think, less time to worry, less time to over-strategize and fewer times crouching into the ready position.  Goya dug in and ran the count to 3 and 2.

The sixth pitch hit her level swing and bounced right towards me.  In a flash the runners headed for second and third, the ball disappearing for a moment behind a cleated shoe of the woman vacating my base.  When I caught sight of it again it was visibly slowing due to Parks Department neglect.  The infield grass had not been cut in perhaps ten days.

I moved in and to my right and backhanded the weakening grounder, thinking that a good throw would catch the lead runner at third, but a quick glace there confirmed my fears that it would be too late.  Our only hope for an out rested in my glove.  I could step on first base and be clinical about it.  Goya would be dead before she even got two thirds of the way there.

Or I could run in and touch Goya.

Run in and actually unite a part of me with a part of her.  Create a brief moment when our actions would merge, would blend.  Force her to acknowledge my ability.

My confidence.

My existence.

The decision was simple.  Her lithe and muscular body raced gracefully toward me and for an instant we were both in a slow-motion fragrance commercial.  An orchestra was playing Delibes and poppies were gently swaying in a balmy southern breeze.  I squeezed the ball tightly and brushed my glove against her left hip, a current of sexual energy instantly reverberating between us.  Our eyes met and the air temperature in Brooklyn momentarily rose to 98.6F.  No one felt it except Goya and me.

The umpire shouted, “Out at first,” bringing the game back into focus.  I left Goya in her grinning reverie and ran towards home plate to make sure the runner at third stayed where she was.  It was only after I tossed the ball to Ann and asked for time that I was able to enjoy the adrenaline rush to my chest and the creamy, pulsing feeling between my legs.

The next batter popped up to short and the half-inning ended.  The final score was Bombers 7, Thunder 1.  In the post game line to shake hands I gave Goya a warm smile and a high five.  “Good game,” I said as a cloud of infield dust erupted from between our meeting palms.  But Goya was already cool again.  Cool, like an avocado in the refrigerator.  Image

*originally published in Sportdykes, edited by Susan Fox Rogers, 1994