Thursday, September 10, 2009
Soccer. Balls. Half-Time.
Midway through each game, both teams retreat to their respective benches and cluster in kinetic pony-tail topped huddles to map out new tactics crucial either to maintain a lead, or to make a comeback Cinderella story happen. Coaches gesture and grimace and pace, tracing plays in the dirt while the girls, rapt, sponge up their instructions. This is also when the girls, nodding their heads, pointing surreptitiously and whispering, define which of the opposing team’s players are the stealthy ones who can expertly throw an elbow or hook a foot to do maximum damage when the referee is otherwise occupied. They identify who of their soccer sisters are being “keyed” on and devise protection plans. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention, they seek revenge.
The half-time show? Roving gypsy soccer families unleash the siblings of the players onto the field to kick-kick-kick out all their pent up energy since their parents have employed every device short of duct tape to control the little ones during the game. One wandering 4-year-old did toddle out smack into the game one time, kick-kick-kicking his little circus-colored Junior Beckham soccer ball with super star flair and confidence. The little bugger narrowly escaped being jacked up by the girls who see only the ball, the goal and each other. He giggled maniacally as the ref scooped him up and deposited him with his grandma who had gone white as a sheet at the sight…
At half time, many a request is received from the players to we sweating, pacing, anxious parents during the brief respite. Since our hearts, which were stuck firmly in our throats during the first half of the game, are back down in our chest cavities and functioning as they should, we jump to their service. Need more water? Do you have any dry socks? Where’s your inhaler? Sunscreen, for the love of God, sunscreen!
My daughter and I also trade silent signals in case things are too hotted-up on the field for verbal exchange. I dread to see our special “tug on the ear” signal because it means parents from the opposing team are “talking” to them during the game.
Now, we as a group will raise Cain on the sidelines hooting and hollering encouragement to our daughters, praising their good work, and occasionally, I kid you not, we actually compliment the other team for a play well done. We would never, ever address someone else’s kid directly, unless we had something good or positive to say. Otherwise nothing is said. Not even if they were the source of some hideous mayhem out there. It is a Soccer Parent (Unwritten) Rule of Civility. The refs and the coaches are on point to make those calls.
DISCLAIMER: I must say at this juncture a MAJORITY of the teams we play display good sports-woman-ship.
But there was a spate of this weirdo-psy-ops-sidelines-buzz-babble recently, where parents of the other team scoot their Soccer Mom folding chairs, coolers and umbrellas up close to the field line and literally growl in low tones to our girls about how their kid is going to “take you out, ghetto” or “you’re no good; we’re gonna win this ‘cuz you stink!” and even darker, and I heard this, “Get ready for the hurt!” Since they are teenagers, these practices are meant to get inside their sensitive and vulnerable heads causing them to be psyched out and throw the game. For some to win, whatever works is fair in their depraved view. One time I waded into it.
True story, when I saw the ear get tugged and the frantic look on my daughter’s face one game, I knew something was really amiss. I casually strolled down the line to stand behind the parents she had pointed out and, sure enough, two bulbous, red-faced, recently permed manicured women wearing Chanel bedazzled sunglasses were hissing out these lovely utterances to the girls closest to them on Tori’s defensive line. I paused to process what I was hearing, because I truly did not believe my ears. I lurched into action, however, when I heard my own flesh-and-blood, having had enough of hearing her soccer sisters being berated in that strange buzzing hive voice these women employed, tell an adult to:
“Shut up! Just shut the hell up!”
These women, as one in complete demented unison like Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, were out of their chairs screeching to the referee that they had been cursed at, that these girls are foul-mouthed and unfit to play the game, the ref must call the game, call the GAME, CALL THE GAME and all that kind of blithering.
When they paused to take a breath, I cleared my throat and declared my opinion: “If you would stop saying such nasty things to them, and I heard you say some pretty nasty things ladies, perhaps my daughter would not have had to ask you to shut up!”
And, as one with all the volume and ferocity of the Tweedles in Xanax deficit, they turned on me and literally melted down, jumping up and down stomping their be-sandaled feet! I had spanked the wasp nest good and hard!
“Your girl obviously got her training at home to disrespect her elders! Maybe you should take her to Sunday school instead of let her play soccer! And look to your failed Godless parenting too!”
To which I lamely responded, (and this is really dorky so try not to laugh your drink up through your nose): “My kid goes to Catholic School so you are full of crap! YOU shut the hell up! And stuff it too!” Do I get points for not using the f-word? Please! I’ll cop to the dorky though.
This was so loud and kinetic and venomous; the ref did indeed stop the game and both teams just stopped in their tracks, jaws dropped with surprise at the cat fight developing off field. I think they all even "took a knee" which means just kneel until the thing going on has resolved itself.
Here’s where it gets skeevy. While the gorgons were railing at me, something about Catholics and cults, I felt someone sidling up to me from behind, turned to look and it was one of their men stinking of Pabst and muttering something to me like “You cain’t talk to my woman that way.”
Ummm, what th’???
But he, thankfully, was immediately followed on by two of MY men, my fellow Soccer Dads who happened to look pretty damn scary, and frankly very sexy, in an enforcer-big-black-intimidating-guy kind of way. They nudged the stalking muttering stinky guy aside, fixed the Tweedles with the most chilling of “back off” fry-you-to-a-heaving-crisp laser looks, and gently escorted me (I think my feet were off the ground as they had me firmly in their grip) back to the relative safety of our side of the sidelines.
“Come on Lin. Not worth it. Let’s go.”
And we did. The game continued with the line ref placed directly in front of and my two Soccer Dads standing directly behind those women, who never made another peep. We won. Karma kicked in.
There’s the whistle for the second half. Moms, take your chairs and prepare to sweat out another forty minutes of soccer – The game that the United States of America has yet to adopt as its own.
(To be continued…)