Tag Archives: Referee

Classic Post: Springtime in the Trailer Park

This post first appeared on April 25, 2018.

Image by Stefan Schweihofer from Pixabay.

On frozen days like today, I want to press my nose against the window pane, spread my fingers and push winter away, as I attempted when a preschooler, living in the trailer park.

When spring showed up for real, our mother would no longer imprison my four-year-old brother and me in snowsuits. She’d stop slathering us with Vicks® VapoRub®. She’d let us go outside.

A little later, my sister, brother and I (pictured with my mom) all shared a for-real bedroom in a bigger trailer.

We didn’t dislike the tiny yellow trailer we called home. The kitchenette smelled like bubbling bean soup and love. Our play area: the closet-sized living room. We slept on the sofa, Ned at one end, and I at the other. Long before ESPN’s kickboxing competitions, we conducted world-class foot fights at bedtime — until the Head Referee called emphatic fouls on us both.

Finally, a hundred robins outside sounded an all-clear. Before sending us outdoors, Mom drilled us: Thou shalt not play around the railroad tracks. Thou shalt look both ways before crossing the drive to the playground. Thou shalt never speak to strangers. But the First Commandment eclipsed them all: Thou shalt not shed thy jacket.

Fully catechized, Ned and I darted to freedom. We stopped and looked both ways before splashing across the gravel road that circled the playground, the center of the trailer court and our world.

Paradise awaited, with a clangy old merry-go-round that spun us into an ecstasy of nausea. Ned and his buddies defied God, gravity and their mothers, walking the teeter-totters instead of sitting. Kathy and I soared on swings, singing Perry Como’s hit, “Catch a Falling Star,” as we touched heaven with our toes. Sometimes, we all simply galloped like a wild-pony herd around the playground.

As suppertime approached, Ned and I picked up dandelions like golden coins to take to Mommy. When Daddy’s old blue Chevy turned into the drive, we raced toward it. Daddy stopped and threw the back door open. Ned and I rode home, waving to friends as if in a parade.

Eating soup and johnnycakes, we fought sagging eyelids like an enemy. We wanted to watch Rawhide, with our favorite cowboy, Rowdy (a very young Clint Eastwood). I wanted to sit on Daddy’s shoulders, eat popcorn and comb his wavy, Elvis-black hair. But it had been such a long, wonderful … spring … day … zzzz.

What do you mean, fall asleep? Not me! It’s springtime! That lazy, good-for-nothing sun has finally shown up. I’ve got more to-do items on my list than candles on my last birthday cake: garage to clean, closets to organize. Plus, a new book to write …

But first, I’m going out to play.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What childhood spring memories warm your mind?

How to Rationalize Watching a Ballgame

Image by Mahmur Marganti from Pixabay.

My name is Rachael, and I’m a ballgame-aholic. Sports rivet me to the small screen.

Although I was raised with the Midwestern work ethic. My mother scoffed at grown men who wasted time playing games with balls and sticks. When she not only hid the “TV Guide” and sport sections, but dispatched Dad’s recliner to the roof, our family got the message.

My husband’s family, though equally industrious, considered watching ballgames valid and Indiana University basketball sacred.

Consequently, Hubby doesn’t require many ballgame rationalizations, though he sometimes borrows from my vast collection. One favorite: we accuse each other of working too hard, then prescribe couch-potato bliss “to keep our blood pressures down.”

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay.

If this fails, we add respectability with semi-productive activities that don’t detract from the loafing essential to sports viewing.

First, we count the money in our wallets.

Okay, that took four seconds. What next?

We fold Hubby’s brown and black socks. He does this on autopilot, and I rarely bother to separate the two, so we can focus on the game.

Hubby polishes shoes. If the score’s tied in the final minutes, the difference between black and brown also escapes him. But my flip-flops look really shiny.

Image by James DeMers from Pixabay.

I consider cleaning my handbag. But what will emerge from its mysterious depths? A penny with two Lincolns might make us rich. However, a 50-year-old photo of an old boyfriend might distract us from the important business at hand.

Picking dead leaves off plants qualifies as a ballgame pastime, unless teams play overtimes. I enjoy the excitement, but bald plants do not.

Manicures, pedicures and ear-hair-trimming sessions also work, though they necessitate similar caution.

Hubby and I sort through cassette tapes and vinyl albums. We cannot bear to part with any of them, so such endeavors provide pleasant diligence without accomplishing anything.

Some couples file tax receipts, answer emails, or alphabetize canned goods while viewing a ballgame. Some have the effrontery to exercise. They even claim this is quality couple time.

Quality time? My husband and I snuggle, cheering our teams, snarling at referees, consoling and/or celebrating with hugs, smooches and buttery popcorn.

After 48-plus years of watching ballgames together, we know how to do quality time.

It’s the best ballgame rationalization ever.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: How do you rationalize watching ballgames?

I Was a Soccer Mom

Before the quarantine, I beheld a newspaper story that made my body temperature plummet into the single digits. Soccer had invaded our area. Again.

“Calm down.” I took 10 deep breaths. “Your children have flown the nest. And the therapy helped. Really.”

Nevertheless, eight years of soccer mom madness left their mark. My normal (spring?) spectator attire consisted of a ratty sleeping bag guaranteed to repel water, ice and lightning bolts.

Photo by Ollebolle123 from Pixabay.

Even my deceased minivan, God rest its crankshaft, never recovered. Saturday mornings required more gasoline — and strategy — than the Normandy invasion. Because this is the First Commandment of Soccer: Never schedule family members to play in the same hemisphere.

There are other reasons why I still occasionally run screaming from children wearing knee socks.

I’ve never understood the rules. Take “offside,” for example. Does it have something to do with flying? My two children, whose combined weights equaled that of a soccer ball, flew more than they ran.

Image by Keith Johnston from Pixabay.

I tended to get upset.

Just a little.

All right, I confess to a deep, dark secret that will forever taint the family name. A referee once had to tell me to shut up.

Actually, he said, “Ma’am, you sit and watch the game. I’ll make the calls.”

To my credit, I feared for the children’s lives. Especially my kid’s!

The referee did not see that big, husky kid boot the smaller kid into the air instead of the ball. Neither, apparently, did other players. Even the wounded rose from the dead and stared at me.

My son stared at me.

I sat down and shut up.

Along with ER trips, I hated soccer dirt— gicky-sticky mud. Another Commandment of Soccer: fields must contain a minimum of 31 deep puddles, with the two largest placed at goals.

Player identification problems are bound to ensue. I once bought 73 sundaes to console my son’s team for a loss, only to realize after the last burp that I had fed their opponents.

Still, I must be fair and celebrate positives:

  • First, I love to watch other people exercise.
  • Second, I will forever cherish the memory of games on beautiful blue-sky days. Both of them.

In closing, I ask others to take compassion on soccer moms. Send them cards, give them hugs and chocolate, pay for their psychiatric stays.

I also want to ask all soccer moms, past and present, to join me in a credo that will seal our recoveries. Say it with me. We can do this.

“We were wr‒wr‒[gasp!] wrong. The referee is rrrr . . . [choke!] The referee is rrrr. …”

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What is your favorite soccer mom memory?