I do not do balls. Not soccer balls. Not footballs. Not softballs. Not baseballs. Not basketballs. Not bocce balls. Not bowling balls. Not volley balls. Not tennis balls and definitely not golf balls. (And, for the more sophomoric among you, not those kind of balls either.)
There are many reasons I eschew balls. Balls are generally deployed in games; indeed, many games are named for balls and, if there’s one thing I don’t like, it’s games. I have found when it comes to games, there’s a high and, in my case, an unreasonable expectation that, when presented with a ball, I will do something with it – catch it, for example, or hit it with a cunningly shaped piece of wood. If I fail to do this thing with the ball, well, then everyone yells at me, letting me know in no uncertain terms that, once again, I have let down the team. In high school I can remember standing way, way out in the outfield, staring blankly up into the blue sky while everyone yelled, “Catch the ball, Hardy! The ball!” “What ball?” I said, whereupon the ball hit me in the head. When it comes to balls, that’s the story of my life.
I inherited the no ball gene from my mother. The only sports in which she was proficient were deck tennis and archery – quoits and arrows, not balls — and my brother Peter’s Little League career was cut mercifully short by his predilection, while at bat, to duck balls pitched at him. Which was a good thing. If there’s one thing that my mother and I hated worse than balls, it was watching other people play with them.
There was a period when my family attended U.N.C.’s home football games. Mom knit; Peter read a comic book; I came for the tailgate lunches. I once attended a U.N.C. basketball game, but only because the family of a boy I had a crush on had season tickets near Dad’s. The boy didn’t show and I never went again. Then there was my son’s stint on the basketball team – oh, those round robin tournaments that began at six on a Saturday morning in a drafty high school gym with, “Who Let the Dogs Out? Who? Who?” cranked up to ELEVEN. Who, indeed? And where are they, so we can kill them?
Many people in my life are just fine with balls. My father loves football and basketball and baseball. Son Will and Daughter Sabrina were talented basketball players and Daughter Shanah, a soccer star. My husband favors hockey and baseball, but springs into vibrant action at the prospect of tennis, golf, billiards or bocce. That’s all very well, but to all those well-meaning friends and relatives who exhort me to “Play! You’ll see! It’s fun!” I say this: there was a reason I was chosen last for teams.
On second thought, there is one kind of ball I will do – a ball of yarn. Give me a couple of those and two needles and you can bet I’ll be having a great old time while the rest of you, like dogs, run around chasing things.