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When hiding doesn't work

May 21, 2002|BY BOB PARASILITI

An old adage seems to keep following me.

It's "Those who can't do, -----." In my case, the blank is filled with "write."

That's a saying which I've heard easily tailored to other professions - like, "Those who can't do, (either) teach, coach or sue."

Recently, I was reminded of how much I can't do. So, true to form, I decided to write about it to clear the record.

A couple of weeks ago, I had one of those brushes with futility during one of my stepdaughter Brianna's youth soccer practices.

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Brianna's team was supposed to play a makeup game instead of a regular practice. The kids were instructed to wear their game uniforms, like they do every Sunday afternoon.

But somewhere along the way, all the plans made by the two coaches went awry. Somehow, wires got crossed and the teams went to two different sites. A couple of cell phone calls later, the game was off.

Brianna's coach, Matt, took it all in stride. He started by putting the kids through some drills, but didn't want to waste the excitement they got from wearing their uniforms.

So, while the team worked on scoring plays, Matt came to the sideline to round up volunteers from the parental ranks to play the kids.

Right away, I became a toddler playing peek-a-boo. I hid my eyes, thinking I would become invisible and Matt wouldn't see me. There was no way I was going out there to make a bigger fool of myself.

Look, I've watched soccer. I have made attempts to cover it. But my experience playing the game is - in soccer terms - nil.

No matter how much I tried to hide, my wife JoAnn made me look like a deer in Matt's headlights and volunteered my services. (By the way, she said she wouldn't play because someone might steal her lounge chair. I think that was an excuse.)

I took the field with five other parents and one of Matt's older sons to take on a horde of seven-year-olds in a game to rival the chase scene at the end of a Benny Hill episode.

Suddenly, I remembered ... "What am I doing out here. I can't do this. Where's my notepad and pen. I feel the need to write something."

It was too late.

Before we go on, understand I attempt to participate in sports, but I'm not all that good at it. I'm the poster child for the athletically impaired.

I'd be in the same team picture including the dancer with two left feet, the umpire with thick, dark glasses and a dog and Rosanne Barr when she attempts to sing anything. Let's just say, I step on my own feet, can't see a thing and am not really very harmonious about it.

When I took the field, they told me to play left wing. I was a little confused. I didn't know politics were involved.

So I manned the far side of the field and felt like I had all the mobility of a player on a table top hockey game. I moved back and forth easily, but going side to side was out of the question.

Please turn to HIDING, D2

Brianna started the game playing goalie against us. She obviously didn't feel threatened by our offensive firepower because she spent the entire time swinging from the side standards of the goal while we scuffled with the idea of moving the ball.

It got a little better. One mother playing defense shamelessly turned the ball back upfield, making the kids run from end to end while the parental suckers tried to work the field in sections. My biggest accomplishment came when I remembered something Matt had been teaching the kids and turned to the sideline to elude the oncoming rush of childhood before passing the ball.

At one point, I think every player on the field grabbed their chests. For the parents, it was to check their heart rates. For the kids, it was to catch their breaths from laughing so hard.

Brianna was rotated out of goalie duty - they must have had trouble keeping her awake because every shot we took whizzed past the net instead of near it.

Brianna came running over to my side of the field for what I thought was a challenge for the ball I tried to dribble upfield. I remembered she flashed me a smile. I thought it was a subliminal yet memorable way of saying "Thanks for playing." In reality, I think she just wanted to get a good look at someone before they passed out.

Meanwhile, JoAnn sat comfortably cheering for both sides (she hates to lose) while quietly wishing she had a camera. The pictures of me huffing and puffing would be great for blackmail purposes down the road.

After 45 minutes of flailing around like log-rolling lumberjacks, it came to an end. Matt blew the whistle and put an end to the "match." He called the kids over to tell them how well they played and then got them together to chant, "Thank you, parents."

For me, the looking foolish, the sore knees the next day and added opportunities to allow JoAnn to laugh at my inabilities were worth it. It gave me a feeling of closeness to Brianna that I didn't have before.

It also reminded me and re-enforced my "Those who can't do," label and took it a step further.

I can't write, either ... about the game, I mean. I couldn't get the pen out of my pocket to take notes while I was playing.

Bob Parasiliti is a staff writer for The Mornng Herald. His column appears every other Tuesday. He can be reached at 301-733-5131 ext. 2310 or by e-mail at bobp@herald-mail.com

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