Archives for category: Sports

ice_skate_toe

When I was in college I took figure skating lessons for a whole semester, and I was pretty good. By the time I finished I could skate both forwards and backwards, and do both front and back crossovers. This was 1986.

Fast forward to 2000, when my husband landed a job at our local ice rink. We put our daughter in skating lessons, and she got to be pretty good too. I would still skate from time to time…I could still go forwards and backwards, but crossovers? Nah.

So I took adult lessons. And then I got pregnant. Not wanting to hurt the bun in the oven, I stopped my lessons. That was 2001.

Hubby recently began working at the same rink again. We got my younger daughter involved with skating lessons, and as I watched her unsteadily glide across the ice, it made me want to get out there with her.

So yesterday during my lunch I walked to the rink and slipped on a pair of skates. It was public session and the ice was sort of crowded. I gingerly stepped out on the ice and realized, with much dismay, that was not at all sure on my feet.

I hugged the wall 3/4 of the way around the ice, nearly losing my balance a time or two, and begged my husband to open up the door of the away-team bench so I could get the hell off. I couldn’t even make it back to where I had started. My head and body hurt from being so tense for the short time I was on the ice.

It really bummed me out. I used to glide with ease, helping my girls to skate, being the rock for them to lean on while they gained their footing. Now I’m just a fat fuddy-duddy hugging the wall.

Meh.


Sidenote: Thank God I stopped myself before trying to show my youngest how to do a cartwheel a year or so back

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Vintage-Ski-Styles

When I was growing up in northern New Jersey our town’s Rec Center used to hold ski trips. The kids would meet in front of the Rec Center, board a bus and head up to Vernon Valley for an afternoon of skiing. There were times where my mom and I, while running errands in town, would pass the Rec Center and I’d watch all the kids lined up with their bags and their skis waiting for the chartered bus to pick them up.

And I was so envious of them.

I grew up in a pretty wealthy town. We were not wealthy. We weren’t on skid row or anything, but there was no extra money to be spent on nonsense like lift tickets and ski rentals. So, Rec Center ski trips were out of the question for me. I acted like I didn’t care – like those kids were all assholes.

Some of them were. But a lot of them weren’t. They were kids I ate lunch with, or might walk part of the way home with. But they could afford to go on the Rec Center ski trips, and I couldn’t. So like any brooding teenager is apt to do, you viewed them with a cool loathing rather than blatant envy.

I did eventually ski though. While I might not have been able to go on the Rec Center trips, my Junior year in high school I became friends with this guy Paul whose parents had a house by Hunter Mountain. Ah Hunter… One of Upstate New York’s finest ski lodges.

For the next 6 years or so, Paul would call me on a random Thursday night and say, “We’re heading up to Hunter tomorrow…wanna come?” It wasn’t always winter either. Sometimes we went up in the summer and attended a festival at Hunter Mountain. Sometimes we just went up for some R & R. But if it was winter? We went skiing.

I was never a great skier, but I learned how to hold my own on the intermediate slopes. I only rode an actual ski lift a few times and dreaded/planned my departure from the chair the entire way up. My trip down would take my about 25 minutes as I would slowly shoosh my way down making a very wide, very horizontal path.

Susie Chapstick I was not.

I remember one weekend a whole bunch of us went up to Paul’s house. It had snowed gangbusters the night before so conditions were going to be phenomenal. The day turned out being a real keeper – temps hit the mid 50s; folks were skiing without coats. We went back to the house, put beach chairs in the snow and drank a case of beer.

It was AWESOME. I left Hunter in February with a sunburn.

My best ski trip ever though, was when I was in Austria. When I took my semester abroad, our school sent us on a ski trip to Semmering. Having not skied in a while, I decided to use the free ski instruction the lodge provided. Our teacher’s name was Norbert, which I found humorous…were his parents undecided between Norman and Burton?

Nobert? He turned out to be a real perv. While doing snowplow turns down the bunny slope, he would shoosh up behind me, wedge his skis between mine and push his pelvis against my ass in very firm, very suggestive manner. It wasn’t just me… he did it to all the girls. He got very drunk at the lodge party later that night and tried very hard to grind us a wee bit more on the dance floor.

But during that day, as I made my way down the slopes an hour south of Vienna, I thought about those kids that used to go on the Rec Center’s ski trips. I could never go, but here I was in Austria. AUSTRIA. On skis. Me.

Beats the hell out of Vernon Valley.

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Yesterday we woke up to 6 inches of snow here in Central Virginny. It was a long time coming…it had been a miserable winter with little to no snowfall.

Unlike a lot of people, I like snow. I don’t want Boston snow, but I like it. I get excited when a snow storm is predicted, and can become rather perturbed when the weather folks get the forecast wrong and I wake up to my normal landscape. Because a little snow can turn the world into a different place…a place a little prettier and a little more magical than it was just a few hours before.

So like I said, having woken up to 6 inches of good powdery snow, our family geared up to do what we always do on a snow day. We went sledding.

Our community has a golf course with a pretty decent hill, and it’s our favorite place to sled. When we showed up yesterday there was already a crowd, and the conditions looked fantastic. It was sunny and cold, but not so cold that you were uncomfortable. It was really a perfect day.

We have two sleds, both the plastic variety; a long blue two-seater and a regular-sized orange sled. Nobody ever likes the orange one because any time anyone in my family would ride it, they’d turn sideways halfway down the hill. Therefore, it was deemed defective.

Well, I have to tell you, that sled is not defective – but my family’s ability to sled apparently is. Cause let me tell you, I was flying on that thing.

That’s right, me. Fifty year old Typical Tracy plopped her ass down on that sled, not once. Not twice. I’m pretty sure I made at least 12-15 runs down that golf course hill. And you know what was weird? I was one of the only parents doing it.

Most of the parents just stood around at the top of the hill, gossiping and “supervising.” Between sips of K-Cup Coffee in insulated travel mugs they might scold little Carson for taking Hudson’s sled, or wipe the nose of little Marlowe, but other than that, they were having zero fun.

I used to just hang around at the top of the hill too, but for a different reason. I was too self-conscious to give it a try. I mean, it’s not easy to lower yourself into a sled gracefully…at least for me. Then there was the walk up that hill. But I’ve been walking a lot lately, and while I’d not venture to say I’m “in shape,” I’m hardly the physical basket case I was a year or so ago.

So, down I went. Over and over again.

It was so exhilarating to fly down that snow-packed hill. Occasionally I’d hit the little ramp of snow and catch some air. Other times I went so fast and so far, my sled would wind up in virgin snow beyond where any other sledder had landed. I rode double with my daughter, and once I even rode down with our camera running on video mode – which btw didn’t turn out that great.

And I never once did I cause that orange sled to turn. Because this 50 year old Slovak knows how to work it. Let those other moms drink their coffee at the top of the hill. Not be, baby. I’d rather be flying.

Skater

I used to be addicted to figure skating. It was my absolute favorite sport, and each year from fall to spring I would scan the TV Guide for any televised competition. I’d watch them breathlessly (except for Ice Dancing…zzzzzzzz) and size up each competitor, and pick my favorites each year.

But these days I know very little about who laces their skates or who sits in the kiss and cry. Do you know I barely watched skating in the Olympics last year? I have to tell you skating got dull for me once they changed the scoring system back in 2004.

Isn’t that dopey? I mean, why should that make a difference?

Well dammit, because old scoring system was fun! Judges from different countries would post their score, 6.0 being the highest. With this system, a viewer felt more involved. You could cheer the 5.9’s and the 6.0’s and jeer at the crusty judge who gave your favorite a 5.2. With the new system they just post a total – and it’s a number that I just can’t comprehend…Ok, his score is 65.35….well is that good or bad? WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

I lost interest real fast.

I tried to soldier on, but once the skaters were in the kiss and cry, there was nothing to look forward to. Waiting for those scores, which would flash up one at a time, sometimes, was part of the drama that was figure skating – as much of a nail biter as watching and wondering if they will land that triple axel.

I realized how much the scoring had played a part in my enjoyment of the sport. And suddenly a lifetime of love for figure skating just melted away.

Skating 1I’d been watching since I was a kid. I had a Dorothy Hamill cut when I was in the 6th grade. I remember watching Scott Hamilton in the days where he had hair…and a rather lousy cut, I might add. I remember watching Denise Biellmann and that wonderful spin, and Elaine Zayak, who was from Paramus, NJ – only a few towns away from my hometown.

skating 2I hated Katarina Witt when she came on the scene. She was too buxom and she was from West Germany…she was like an evil prison guard in my mind. I rooted for Debi Thomas in the Battle of the Carmens (where I lost) and rooted for Brian Boytano in the Battle of the Brians (where I won) during the ’88 Olympics. I mean, who wanted Brian Orser?

4f58f61de276b.preview-620But it wasn’t solely American skaters who piqued my fancy. In the late 80’s/early 90’s I fell in love with the Russian Pairs team of Gordeeva and Grinkov. They were so good, so elegant, and that little Ekaterina was just so cute! They could land jumps that other pairs teams couldn’t – and they made it look easy.

They wound up getting married, those two. But then, in 1995 Sergei died suddenly of a heart attack right on the ice while they were practicing in Lake Placid. I was heart broken – how in the world could someone so young and so fit just die like that? I went to see Ekaterina skate in a Champions on Ice show at Madison Square Garden the next winter, and I balled my eyes out.

CryingNow, we can’t have a serious skating discussion without bringing up the whole Tanya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan saga. Personally, I hated both of them. Tonya Harding looked like a thug, and Nancy Kerrigan, with her giant Mr. Ed horse teeth, irked me as well. I didn’t like anyone that year – not even Oksana the orphan – but I’ll tell you, the Olympics that year was riveting television!

MenIn the early 2000’s I fell in love with Men’s skating….well, Johnny Weir to be exact. Oh, he was so wonderful to watch, and so cute with his hair and his smile! How about when Rudy Galindo won the Nationals in 1996 – that performance was goose-bump raising. And then Evan Lycacek came on the scene – he was super easy on the eyes and a super skater to boot. What had I been missing all these years?

But my greatest skating triumph came when Champions on Ice started off their 2007 (and for a while, last) tour in Richmond. Hubby was the zamboni driver/ice tech at the time, and I got to hang out backstage more than once during the week they were rehearsing.

Johnny Weir called me one night to tell me my husband  had grease on his pants.

I held Evan Lycacek’s skate guards.

Rudy Galindo was jealous that I had a photo of Johnny Weir on my office bulletin board. he made me promise to add his photo as well. And I did.

evgeni-plushenkoEvgeni Plushenko? He smoked non-stop and avoided me like the plague.

I got to stand rink-side during the entire show, and was allowed to attend the meet & greet where my camera ran out of batteries. Typical. Thankfully a co-worker of my husbands had a camera and snapped photos of me with Weir, Lycacek & Galindo.

I was thankful until I saw them, that is. She had zoomed in so close that I was all face. Ugh. I was not Norma Desmond and I was not ready for my closeup. Here I had my photo taken with 3 of figure skating’s golden boys, and I had a gigantic moon-face that no amount of photoshopping could fix.

That was more than 7 years ago and nobody outside my immediate family has seen those photos. My Facebook bragging rights? Shot to freakin’ hell.

I was watching the US Figure Skating championships a few weeks back, and a young skater named Adam Rippon caught my eye. His free skate gave me chills, much like Johnny and Rudy had back in the day when I rarely missed a men’s skating event.

And then they flashed his score, and it meant nothing to me.

I turned the channel and watched an episode of Chopped instead.

Track

My freshman year in high school I decided to join winter track. I’d always been a decent runner, and I was eager to get involved in a school sport now that volleyball season had ended.

During tryouts, the coach had the freshman run various race lengths to see where our strengths lied. I was at the starting line getting ready to run the 220 next to a proven sophomore – she had legs like a colt and was rumored to be the best female runner on the team.

She knew it too. She looked at me with snort and a smirk, clearly displaying her superiority over a mere freshman. It pissed me off, and I wanted to beat her really, really badly. The coach, before firing the starter pistol, warned us to take it easy and not push ourselves to the max. These were just warm up races.

Yeah, coach. Sure thing. You betcha.

When the pistol shot rang out I was off, as was the smirking sophomore. We quickly left the pack behind, and it was just me and her out in front. We were neck and neck for the longest time, when I heard her say, “Ugh, I can’t!” as I passed her.

Ha! Having crossed the finish line first, I toyed with the idea of smirking back at her, but Tracy don’t play that way. Instead, I walked it off, heading across the field back to the starting line. As I approached the team clustered around the stands, a few girls ran up to me and said, “You broke the school record!”

WHAT? ME? On my first DAY?!?

Turns out I had. I was so intent on beating that show-off sophomore that I had run faster than even I knew I could. The coach confirmed it, but said it could not be counted officially because it had not happened during an actual race, just during practice. A friend of mine said that during the race the coach had said something to effect of, “Look at her go…”

I always liked that.

I spent the next month or so running and re-running the 220 in practice, sometimes breaking the record, sometimes not. Our only meet that season was a huge Tri-State event in which runners from New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania would compete. It was held on a college campus with a large, indoor track facility; where I could not tell you. I just know we had to leave really early and the bus ride was loooong.

I had one event, a relay in which each of 4 team members ran 220 yards and passed the baton to the next runner. While I cared if my team won our heat, I was more interested in my portion of the race, because this was my shot at beating our school record.

The event arena was crowded, and It was difficult to make my way to the starting line when the call time for our race came. groups of students from God knows how many schools were camped in any open spot they could find

I had the outside lane. I remember being confident rather than nervous at the starting line. All I had to do was run, right?

As I heard the bang of the starting pistol, I was off running and was soon neck and neck with girls from the tri-state area, but I wasn’t interested in them. I could come in dead last, as long as I beat our school’s record.

As I came into the first turn, there were legs across the track. How odd.

See, the arena was really too small for all the people that were there. A set of bleachers came within 2 feet or so of the outside lane of the track until you got to the turns, where it opened up a bit. A group of students had decided this little spot by the turn would be the perfect place to hang out and relax before their next event. Apparently said group of students had not heard the race begin.

So there they were. A set of legs, clad in athletic socks and white sneakers, in my path. Not to be deterred, I leapt over them without breaking stride, which was fine & dandy.

Except for when I landed, my ankle twisted and I stumbled right into the girl running next to me, who fell. It was enough of a blunder to demolish my time and annihilate any chance I had at the school record. I remember passing the baton to my team mate with the sage advice of “Run your ass off!”

Our team not only lost, but didn’t qualify for the next heat. And like that my winter track season was over. I would never gaze proudly at my name on the record board in the cafeteria. No mention of my name would be made in the morning annoucements in home room. No accolades, no nods of approval from fellow classmates.

zip.

As if all that wasn’t bad enough, the chick I stumbled into? She was pissed. And tough. She looked like a Bronx gang lord. I’d not only messed up my chances, I’d messed hers up as well. With wounded pride and a sore ankle I spent the remainder of the meet skulking around in the shadows desperately trying to avoid getting my ass kicked.

I don’t rememer if my coach ever lodged a complaint about the human obstacle in my path. Who knows what might have happened if that girl had sat cross-legged, or had used a Q-tip that morning and had thus heard the starter pistol, or maybe just decided that baton twirling would be way more fun that winter track. Who knows?

But she was there, and in my path, and changed my fate.

Typical.

poloA few weeks back I posted about old boyfriends who have gone to the great beyond. I told the story of Andy, but never got around to the story of Paul. Let me share with you my brief, but awesome time with the Polo dude.

It was my freshman year at U of D. I was into weight lifting, an activity I started doing my senior year of high school in an effort to shed some pounds. My abs were rock hard, and I intended to keep them that way, so I frequented the weight room at the gym. This is where I met Paul.

He was cute, with sandy brown hair. He was not overly tall, and had a thin, yet muscular build – his arms were amazing. We began chatting over the fact that I had the sit-up bench at the highest incline – I think he was impressed. I noticed right away that his voice was sort of high – it almost made him sound girlish in a way. But I was never one to judge someone for something out of their control.

We became friends and met frequently at the gym. When I asked what dorm he lived in he said he lived off campus on his family’s farm about 30 minutes away. I pictured him in rubber boots swinging a bucket to slop the hogs – that must be why he had such good arm muscles. He said he had horses and asked if I’d like to come out and ride sometime. Sure, who wouldn’t? We set the date for the upcoming Saturday.

Paul showed up at my dorm bright and early to make the drive out to the farm. His car was nice. Really nice. I think it was a Mercedes, but I can’t remember. After a short drive and pleasant small talk, I was expecting to pull up to a modest farm house. That’s what I was expecting. Instead we turned down a private road with a carved wooden sign at the head of it – one thing engraved in the sign was the word “estate.”

Estate? Didn’t he say he lived on a farm? I suddenly questioned my earlier vision…I doubt there would be any pigs here.

We pulled up to a sprawling, cheerful, yellow and white house surrounded by acres and acres of green, rolling hills, and miles of fence. A sizable stable stood in the distance. Yep, this was no farm boy.

I was introduced to his mother, a beautiful, elegant woman with blonde hair and an accent. I can’t remember what country she originated from though. I just remember she was super nice, and very welcoming. I was also introduced to Paul’s father. I found him to be intimidating and somewhat cold. I made a mental note to stick with mom.

After a brief tour of the house, which included showing me a television that rose up out of a cabinet at the push of a button, we headed out to the stables. The stable was magnificent and housed quite a few horses. Paul led me into a large, and well stocked tack room where he found me riding boots, and a helmet. I began to get the distinct impression that Paul was loaded. Farm, indeed.

We went out riding, which was one of the most thrilling experiences of my life. Usually when I’d been riding in the past, it was at a commercial stable where you paid by the hour and went out in a group. The guides told you when to walk and when to canter, that is, if they let you run at all.

But with Paul, we were able to do whatever we wanted when we wanted. I remember us giving our horses a slight kick and before I knew it, we were racing across the green hills, the wind whipping my hair back, my eyes shining with excitement.

We rode for about an hour – that was about all my ass could take. In that time I found out that Paul was not a simple farm boy. He was a polo player. His family had their own team, made up of his father and brothers. They spent spring and summer at the Pennsylvania estate, and spent winters in Palm Beach, Florida.

I immediately felt out of my league. Here I was, an average nobody from New Jersey and I was on a date with a polo player? But, Paul was very genuine, and extremely modest. This guy could easily had laid the “I’m rich” soft soap on me, but he didn’t. It was as if he was unaware of the advantages of his wealth – to him, he was just an average guy.

Once back at the stables, I had a hold of the horse’s bridle while Paul did something or another to take off the saddle. It was at this point that the horse lifted up it’s front leg, and put it back down, right on my foot. I felt immense pressure, and then heard a wee little “snap!”

Ruh roh. I yanked my foot out from under his hoof, which clacked back onto the floor. I could feel the swelling begin in my foot. I said meekly, ” Paul? I think the horse might have broken my toe.”

He set me down on a bench and immediately went to take the boot off. No! It was too painful! But, he said he had to before my foot swelled too much in the boot – then it would be near to impossible to get it off. It was awkward, and very Typical of Tracy. Only I could mess up a magical date with a rich, handsome polo player. But, Paul being the down-to-earth guy he was could care less. He fussed over me and my swollen foot the rest of the afternoon.

We continued to see each other over the next few weeks, usually just in the weight room, or he’d come watch me play intramural volleyball. One day he asked me if I would accompany him to a ball.

A fucking BALL.

As if that weren’t surreal enough, the ball was in South Carolina. And how were we to get there? Oh, we were to fly down on Friday night in his father’s private plane. His father would pay for the hotel, and all food for the weekend. So, would I come? I felt like a Slovak Cinderella. I told him yes, but admitted I was a bit worried about fitting in. He urged me not to worry about it…he liked me the way I was, and so would everyone else.

My mom sent me an appropriate dress from my closet at home, and I packed my bags for what would be an exciting weekend. I remember driving to a small airport, and boarding his father’s plane. I think I was chewing gum to ease my nerves. I’d never flown in a small plane at night, and while it was exciting, it was a tad scary too.

We landed without incident in South Carolina and drove to the hotel, which was very fancy. I got my own room, which felt so odd. I mean, it made perfect sense – we weren’t going to all shack up in one room with two double beds or anything. But this was hardly a Motel 6 – these rooms had to cost a couple of hundred bucks a night. It was humbling to think that someone had shelled out all this money just for me.

I don’t remember every detail from that weekend. I do remember going to the ball, and eating lobster bisque for the first time. And I remember Paul’s father telling me that I would be a lot prettier if I learned to put on my eye makeup better. Yep, it was a humbling experience, alright. I remember Paul coming back to my room after the ball, where I drew a sketch of him, and we watched TV until we finally said good night sometime in the wee hours of the morning.

The next day was like a page ripped right out of the script book of Pretty Woman, except it wasn’t written yet, and I wasn’t a prostitute. That day we attended a polo match and a fox hunt. Yes, you read that right – a FOX HUNT. Here I was, a girl who lived just steps from the swamps of Jersey at a fox hunt in South Carolina polo country. Talk about feeling like a fish out of water.

But, I had Paul by my side for the majority of the day. I watched him play his polo match, mashed the divots back into the ground between chukkas, and made uncomfortable small talk with girls who had much better clothes and hair than I did. But watching Paul play polo? It was worth enduring the snubbery. He was so masterful at controlling his horse, and it was no wonder his arms were so fabulous after watching him swing that polo mallet.

After his game, we decided to blow off the Fox Hunt – yeah, like I was going to ride to the hounds. Instead, Paul saddled up two horses and we took our own ride along the back roads. Once or twice we ran into the hunt – saw throngs of red-coated riders gallop by – but for the most part we spent a quiet afternoon talking and enjoying the scenery.

It had been an indescribable weekend. We flew back to Delaware, and I sat in a sort of awe, thinking of all the new things I’d been exposed to. I’d really enjoyed myself, not only because I’d lived the life of a society princess for a few days, but because Paul had been by my side the whole time. I truly valued his company – his friendship.

Shortly after that weekend, Paul informed me that he was returning to Palm Beach on a permanent basis. He wasn’t doing well academically at U of D, and was leaving school. I was bummed, but not devastated. While I really liked Paul a lot, I always felt uncomfortable around his family. I got the feeling that they thought I wasn’t the right girl for him. Except for his mom. She was always very, very nice to me.

As a matter of fact, she came to my dorm room the next semester. Paul and I had written and called over the months since he’d left, so she knew where I’d lived. She handed me a poster for the Palm Beach Polo Club, and there in the center, swinging his polo mallet with all his might, was a photo of Paul. I’d know that muscular arm anywhere. I thanked her warmly, and we chatted for a while. She left promising to give Paul a hug and kiss for me.

That poster hung on my wall both at home and at school for years. It finally got so torn and tattered that I threw it away. Like so many other things, I wish I hadn’t. It would be nice to look at it again. To see that strong arm, and his face with that look of concentration and determination.

I was sad when I read he had died, and only in his 40’s. He was such a nice fellow, so real and down-to-earth. He deserved better – a long life with a pretty wife and kids that he could lift laughingly onto the backs of ponies. It would be cool if I could let him know I think about him from time to time. To let him know he made a very cool memory for an average girl from Jersey.

seasick1There’s not a whole lot you can do or say to convince me to go on a boat. At least not a boat where shore is not a swimmable distance away. For, somewhere between childhood and adulthood my body decided that sea legs would never be a part of my anatomy.

When I was a kid my cousin Frank had a sailboat. A couple of times he sailed into Martha’s Vineyard while we were on vacation, and he’d take us out on the sea for the afternoon. That I liked. I was young and it was exciting to be on the water.

I’m not sure when I began to feel the side effects of a rocking vessel. I never got sick on the ferry (and still don’t) but that might be because the boat is so big, or mentally I know the ride is going to be short. I’m fine in canoes, but then again I take them on a lake or river, which are rather calm.

The first time I recall getting really sick was when I went to the Jersey shore to go on my ex-boyfriend’s boat. Mark and I were toying with the idea of getting back together, and we decided to spend a day on the ocean. I felt very privileged and special to be going out on a boat…life was good and the sun was shining. We stopped at a grocery store and picked up a whole bunch of stuff to barbecue and headed for the marina.

Once we were on the boat I was fine, until we got onto the open water. Then the boat began to bob up and down and up and down. The effects were almost immediate – I was sick as a dog. Mark thought I would get used to it after a while but I didn’t. I threw up over the side of the boat and then passed out on one of the seats.

So much for getting back together.

My next adventure at sea was during a summer on Martha’s Vineyard when I was in my twenties. My cousin had separated from her husband and she and I became drinking buddies, cruising all the hot guys on the island. We had been talking to a group of very handsome young men who were going to sail in the Edgartown Regatta the following morning. They asked if we wanted to come along for ballast. While I was in the middle of saying “No Way, José,” my cousin was agreeing to go.

I explained to them both how sick I get on boats, but somehow they convinced me. Point A) I’d only gotten sick that one time; Point B) I could take Dramamine; Point C) the very cute sailor boy was going to take me out to dinner if I got sick.

The next morning we boarded the large sailboat with a bunch of other folks that I hadn’t met but was happy to be spending the day with. Even though I was nervous about being on the boat, it was pretty thrilling to be sailing in a real race! The harbor was filled with other boaters, so it took us a while to get out onto the open sea.

But it didn’t take me long to start feeling sick. As I watched the Edgartown shoreline grow smaller and smaller, my stomach grumbled louder and louder. What sucked even more, was this was no day pleasure boating. I was expected to work. I couldn’t lay down and sleep like I did on Mark’s boat. When the call came out, I had to hang over the side of the boat with the rest of the “crew.”

That was no problem – I was hanging over the side of the boat most of the day anyway. My scant breakfast of wheat toast and my dose of Dramamine came up within the first half hour.

When lunch time came, they handed out tuna salad sandwiches. Tuna? Really? Not only could I not eat it, but I threw up whatever was left in my stomach at the smell of it.

I remember hanging over the side of the boat, sick and miserable and thinking that I’d rather be almost anywhere right at that moment. I thought longingly of my desk, piled high with work that I would tackle with absolute glee, if only I could be off this boat. I was trapped, and it didn’t feel good.

The day wore on, and I went from one side of the boat to the other when the captain commanded. By 2 pm or so I began to feel better. Someone offered me a beer, and I took it. It tasted good. I felt even better. By the time we crossed the finish line I was tired, but pretty much my old self.

When we docked, I reminded my cute little sailor dude about our agreement – I’d gotten sea sick, so he owed me dinner.

I’m still waiting for the call.

I managed to stay off boats for the next 25+ years. Then two summers ago we took a trip to Virginia Beach where we rented wave runners one afternoon. My husband drove one with my youngest daughter, and I drove the other with our oldest. I was fine for the first 15 minutes. My girl and I cruised back and forth in the designated area, feeling the splash of the ocean and jumping the waves. But then the constant bobbing of the wave runner on the ocean began to take its affect on me, and I started feeling very nauseous.

I was super relieved when I saw the flag go up signaling that it was time to head back to the marina. I wasn’t sure I was going to make it back without hurling. I just kept my attention on the pilot boat and the idea that I would be on terra firma again very soon.

And that was it – the last time I will ever go on a boat/watercraft out in the ocean again. Hubby broke my balls for getting sea sick on a wave runner, and I have to admit, it’s pretty lame. But lame or not, my body does not like the motion of the ocean.

So my feet will remain permanently bound to the ground – unless I’m on a ferry to the Vineyard.

19125593

About a week ago, while I was taking my morning walk, I noticed the empty tennis courts that are just blocks from my house and thought, “we should start playing again.”

The we? That’s hubby and me. We used to play a lot of tennis when we were first dating and even well into the early years of our marriage. I was never great, but I began to improve after playing at least 3 times per week.

Hubby and I would hop on our bikes and ride to Wood Park, the one spot in our hometown that had courts, and hope that one of the four courts would be open. If they were all open we’d ride our bikes around the courts for a while, and then settle in for a game or two.

I could never beat him. I might win a set here or there, but I could never win a match. Hubby has a mean backspin, and to be honest, I’m the type who crumbles when the pressure is on. If I was in reach of a win, I’d trip over my own two feet.

Once we had our first born daughter we continued to play, but it was hard. We’d have to wheel her onto the court in her stroller, but I was always worried she’d get hit with a ball. Plus, she’d begin to fuss after 30 minutes or so. Then we moved to Florida, and it was too hot to play.

But after seeing those open tennis courts on my walk, I really wanted to get out and try to play again. I brought it up to my husband, who agreed that it would be fun. We got out the racquets, managed to find one ball, and headed for the courts. As we pulled up to the park we were discouraged to find both courts in use.

Ugh. Oh well, we only had one ball anyway, and that makes tennis a chore. We went back home slightly dejected, but ready to give it another try someday.

For father’s day, I gave my husband a tube of tennis balls. That afternoon, we went to the park and found both courts open. Hooray! My youngest was our ball girl, complete with her scooter to make fetching that much faster. And we began to play.

Okay, we didn’t really play, we just hit the ball back and forth. He was tired after an overnight shift and am beyond out of shape. But it was really fun. I got up a very good sweat, and my daughter told me that my face was really red. Yikes. Well, it was 87 degrees out.

At the end we played a mini game, and I actually won.

I hadn’t lost my touch. I got off quite a few good shots, even a few slamming backhands. I can still swing that racquet with some skill, it’s just getting to the ball that is difficult. It’s fairly evident I am not in my twenties anymore.

This morning rather than take a walk, my youngest and I went back to the tennis courts. I spent an hour lobbing balls over the net to her, and teaching her how to swing. She wasn’t great, but she did really well for her first time. Our longest volley didn’t exceed 5 hits, but we laughed and chased balls and had a lot of fun.

I want to do it every morning. I think I’ll buy another tube of balls.

 

football

I realized this morning that I have no memories of Superbowl Sunday at my house growing up. I can’t think of one football related party or gathering at my family home with the exception of a shindig my sister threw when she was in college. Perhaps Superbowl Sunday wasn’t as big of a deal when it started back in ’67 as it is now.

For all I know my dad was working on his car like it was any other Sunday and just tuned into the game at night. No dips or chips, no wings, ribs or 6 foot sub sandwiches. Just dad laying on the floor doing his leg exercises watching whatever teams were clashing heads that year. Or maybe he was just watching “The Waltons.”

When my oldest sister got married things changed. She and her husband are pretty big sports fans, and my sister loves to entertain. Her house, whether it was in Jersey or Virginia, was Superbowl Central each and every year. I could personally care less about the Superbowl unless I team I like is playing. Other than that it’s a day to drink, munch, and bullshit with folks I haven’t seen in a while.

My kids? They have grown up knowing that Superbowl Sunday means a party. They have been to dozens of my sister’s gatherings where we usually had to leave after half-time so we could put them to bed. Every year we made a Superbowl grid and pitched in our quarters in the hopes of winning a few bucks, and every halftime we stuffed ourselves with hot dogs and chili.

This year, it’s just us though. My sister has moved too far away for a days commute, and we really don’t have anyone to invite over. Yes, this year it’s just the family – with me making foods I don’t usually take the time to make; stuffed mushrooms, bacon wrapped shrimp, and ribs.

As for the game? I’ll be watching “Girls” in the bedroom. Or “Downton Abbey”. I’ll check the score from time to time, but just to see if I’ve won any money. And I’ll feed my family of course – that’s the most important chore for today.

Back in 3rd grade one of my best friends was a girl named Vicky Price. One weekend, she and her family were attending the Gino’s Super Shooters contest, and she asked me to come along. Gino’s was a chain of hamburger & chicken joints that I rarely ate at. I was strictly a McDonlad’s girl back then, but that didn’t keep me from wanting to go with my friend.

The problem was, the Super Shooters contest involved basketball. Yes, the object of this contest was to find the boy and girl who could sink the most shots in the basket. This was not my forte. I’d was more likely to win Miss America at 9 than to think I’d be able to sink more than one basket.

Vicky and her sister were basketball whizzes. They had mastered that easy overhand toss of the ball that usually resulted in a swish. I shot more like Felix Unger. I still can’t shoot a basketball properly – on the rare occasions we play around the world in our driveway my husband breaks my chops. But I didn’t care – it was a wet, cold, crappy Saturday and I had nothing better to do.

The contest was in somewhere in Jersey I’d never been to – someplace near Newark I think, in a high school gym. There were tons of kids there, but I wasn’t really nervous. I knew I was going to bomb which sort of took the edge off. But Vicky was nervous. When it was her turn to take the court she didn’t sink a single basket. I felt really bad for her; had we been at wood park she’d have gone 10 for 10.

Then it was my turn. With my mousy brown hair in a pony tail, clad in pink slacks and a t-shirt, I took the court. I knew there was no way I was ever going to reach the net shooting overhand, so I reverted to my standard method of basketball sink-ology. I grabbed the ball with both hands, swung it between my knees and let ‘er fly.

Yes, there was laughter. There were 6 year olds that shot overhand, and here I was almost 10 and shooting like an old lady. But you know what? They were going in the net. Perhaps because I wasn’t the least bit nervous, because I had no expectations of doing anything more than embarrassing myself, I was able to find that comfortable groove that allows your mind and body to connect harmoniously.

I won’t sit here and tell you that I sunk all 10. But I sunk enough to win myself a t-shirt, and I was as thrilled as could be at that. Poor Vicky had gone there with dreams of qualifying for the semi-finals, and she was coming home empty handed. I felt sort of guilty about that.

And here I am (at right), clad in that very t-shirt and my pink slacks. I don’t know why I look so absolutely miserable, but whatever the reason my sister Judy was in full agreement. Maybe it’s the couch. It makes me sad to look at it 37 years later.