It’s Memorial Day Weekend and I committed months ago to play in the California Cup. What? A field hockey tournament in California?? No way. I would be super excited if I didn’t feel like death. It’s Saturday morning and I realize, I really can’t play field hockey right now. I message the group on fb and tell them. Patti, who invited me to play, messages me back. “Oh shit. We won’t have enough girls. No subs.” Oh my God. “Can you come and just stand on the side and sub when someone needs a break.” Yes.
So I’m here. I’m early. This is certainly an event. So many fields, so many players, vendors, tents, even a beer garden. Nice. (Well it would be nice if I wasn’t sick.) I stand on the sideline and watch a boys game in progress. They’re young – probably 14-18 years old. A kid takes a shot from way out. It’s a little high, and the ball slams into another kids face. He hits the ground – hard – covering his face. He’s swarmed by adults from the sideline. They help him off the field and blood is everywhere. His face is covered and it’s dripping on his shirt and onto the ground. Not exactly the first thing I want to see before I play. (Well hopefully I won’t be playing.) I mean, I’m more concerned about the kid (of course).
I move on, searching for our field. Spot my team and they’re all ready to go. I look pathetic. I wouldn’t want me as a teammate right now. Jess and Ashley – Patti’s daughters – are the only two I recognize and have played with before. Solid players. I love playing with them. We’re in a co-ed league, so we’ve got a mix of guys and girls. Some people introduce themselves but most finish getting ready and head out onto the field. I’m the lone sub. It sucks to stand here and watch. I’d much rather play, especially since it’s an hour drive here, but I could fall asleep standing up. Ashley needs a sub. I’m actually glad. I know I’m only in there while Ashley catches her breath and gets some water, so I can give it my all. Right midfielder. Oh God, here comes the ball. I manage to get around one defender and pass it to my teammate. Yes. I did it! And now I’m dead. That literally just took everything out of me. Ashley is calling me from the sideline. And that’s all I play. It’s a close game and we end up losing by one. We were the better team, so that’s frustrating, but it’s not like I did much to help.
There’s a second game in a couple hours. I can’t do it. And I don’t have to, because the other girl who isn’t here now will be here later. They can play without me. Make the hour drive home, shower, and sleep until work. I can’t not work. I need the money. I’m not myself at work but manage to make it through the night. The next morning, it’s more of the same. You’ve got to be kidding me. I can’t not go again. But I feel like shit. I go back and forth with myself for a bit before I send the fb group ANOTHER message that I can’t make it today. Patti texts me. This time, not only will they have no subs if I don’t come, but they won’t have enough girls (there has to be a certain number of girls on the co-ed teams), so they’ll have to forfeit. Because of me.
No. We can’t have that. I’m coming. Make the drive again. Miserable. Pull up to the field and get some new information. We actually don’t have enough players to field a team, so not only do I have to play, I have to play the entire game. Ha. I mean, OK, yea, let’s do this. Probably best if you stick me on the front line. They do. I’m the sort of cherry picker. Again, I’m sort of excited to be here and be playing. I really do despise watching (unless I’m coaching). The first half I suck. Part of it is just because I’m not very good at offense. I’ve never been comfortable on the front line. But I can hide up here. At halftime, I figure, if I’m going to play, I should really play. Does anybody on defense want to switch with me? I think I’ll be much more valuable to you guys if I play defense. One player agrees and he just so happens to be playing left back. That’s my position, yo. The second half is much better. I feel like I’m actually playing. I’m getting winded really easily, but at this point I feel like I’m on drugs, in a fog, and I can just go with it. We end up winning. And I’m spent. Sorry guys, I’m done. Can’t do another game today, and I don’t have to, because the absent players will be here later.
I repeat the day before. Shower, sleep, work. Sleeping is the most amazing thing this weekend. I don’t think I’ve ever looked so forward to sleep. I wake up Monday morning and I can tell, I’m slightly better. If there was no tournament, I probably would take some meds and lay in bed all day, but at least I feel more capable. I want to play.
Our first game is on turf, so it’s definitely more fast pace. People need to stop blasting the ball up the field because it just goes off the endline, but I haven’t exactly earned a voice to speak my opinion. It’s an aggressive game. The other team is a bunch of cry babies, but at the same time, kinda dirty. That’s usually how it goes. We lose, God dammit. I’m pissed. Which means I’m back.
On our break in between games, I finally have the chance to walk around and take everything in. So much field hockey apparel! I want it all. I HAVE to get a tournament T-shirt. Obviously. They only have one kind left (because I waited until the last day) and it’s buy one get one free. So I get two. One navy and one white. I also get this cool reversible pinny type shirt. Bright green on one side and white on the other with green field hockey sticks all over it. This shirt is calling my name. Finally, I walk by a table and there’s this little mint green one-sy. In simple black letters, it says, “i dribble” with a black field hockey stick underneath it. I mean, I don’t even know who this will be for, but I have to have it. And it’s the last one. How much is this? “Five bucks.” Pshhh. Done deal. Can’t pass that up.
It’s time for our last game of the tournament. My team is looking forward to it because they know most of the people on the other team. It’s definitely a rival type feel. I like that. Definitely a good game. Of course I think my team is better, but the other team has this one French guy who is talented and my God, he is so fast! It’s towards the end of the game. It’s tied. I’m playing right back and the ball is all the way up in our offensive end, so I’m sort of just hanging out. I watch a defender on the other team step up and make a great play. She is this tiny little Indian girl. She must be in college. I’m impressed. There’s a lady on the other team standing next to me, older, like 50 or something. I know the teams “know” each other, so I figure it’s cool if I say something to her. She yells something positive to the girl and then I get her attention. Man, she’s really good. How old is she? Old Lady doesn’t answer me right away, then makes a face. “Uh, older than you.”
Blood is now boiling.
I guaran-fucking-tee she is not older than me. But she caught me off guard with this comment. And I can’t keep my mouth shut. So I keep it going.
Sorry, I thought these teams were friends with each other. Old Lady won’t look at me still. “Not on the pitch.” Wow. What a fucking bitch, and I’m being generous with that comment. Shortly after this, Frenchy scores to win the game. I couldn’t be more furious. After the game, everyone always casually shakes hands with members of the other team. I CANNOT WAIT to shake Old Bitch’s hand. One thing I will do is force eye contact. I want to look her straight in the eye. And the second part I’m not sure. Smile and be completely honest and say, yea, it was not a pleasure to play against you, OR be extremely sarcastic and say, it was really a pleasure to play against you. I’m leaning towards sarcastic.
I’m looking for her everywhere. I can’t find her. Seriously, where did she go? Ughhhh I really wanted to have this confrontation. I walk off the field, fuming. Spot Ashley and vent to her. You know that older lady on the other team? “Yea.” She’s a fucking bitch. “Yea.” Apparently, this is already known. Follow up question. Do you know how old that Indian girl is, the one on defense? “She’s in college.” Yea. Fucking bitch. Being all condescending as I’m trying to pay her teammate a compliment. Who does that? Grow up. You’re a terrible person.
Now the other team wants to get a big group picture with all of us. No shot in hell. I don’t even feel bad saying no. I don’t know these people. And now that lady is in sight. But she has little kids surrounding her. My moment has passed. I can only vent to Mike when I get home and tell myself I look younger than a college student.
*The Naked and Famous