Saturday, February 02, 2008

Self Awareness

Shortly after we moved here I found myself eagerly volunteering for my children's school. My first opportunity to serve came during the school's auction. I was helping set up all the merchandise that had been donated.

At one point, I came across a golf ball that had been gingerly set underneath a goblet. I didn't know what to make of it.  Was the goblet part of the auction or was it protecting the golf ball? So I picked up the goblet to take a better look at the golf ball. There was a name scribbled on the ball. Okay, so it must be a famous golfer or someone of the like. And that's where I should have just put the ball back under the glass and walked away. But instead, I found myself turning to the other people in the room with the ball held aloft and in a very innocent voice I asked...

"Who's Bill Self?"

A deathly silence met my question. The president of the board started to shake his head while looking at me, "No, no, no, you did not just ask that question did you?"

"Oh, sorry, should I know him? Is he a famous golfer? I don't know many golfers."

Then the silence turned to muffled chuckles, "How long have you been gone from Kansas?"

"Nine (long, lonely, yearning, miserable) years."

As it turns out, Bill Self is the head basketball coach for our beloved Kansas Jayhawks. I hadn't a clue. For me to admit that in a public place, was, well, not good. I'm surprised I'm not living in exile right now.

It reminded me of when we moved to St. Louis and people insisted on having conversations about baseball with me assuming I cared deeply about the St. Louis Cardinals. Women especially, they would start talking about the game, the players, and the errors. I thought they were joking. Surely, all these women were not this passionate about baseball. Didn't they want to talk about gardening, decorating, shopping, cooking, books, movies, sewing, religion....anything besides baseball? No. They didn't.

I found myself in conversations about spring training, exhibition games, trades, quality starts, earned run average, slugging percentages. I learned to nod my head in agreement and throw out the name LaRussa to appear that I cared.

I was coaxed to games by well meaning people. I usually took a good book, magazine and insisted that I have a hotdog and soda before the first inning was over. If my husband dragged me to the game I would beg to leave by the end of the fifth inning, "Please, can we go now? I'm hot. I'm full. I'm done reading. I'M BORED! Please, can we go? I'm going to die if I have to stay here one more second! PLEASE, TAKE ME HOME!"

I endured the long seasons. I learned to avoid the die hard fans in fear they would hand me tickets or ask me what I thought of the pitching line up. I escaped baseball conversations by mentally escaping to a land full of flowers and trees and bunnies and cows, I'd begin my safe mantra, "Uh-huh, Uh-huh, LaRussa needs a haircut, Uh-huh, Oh, I know, yes, LaRussa is a genius, yes, Cardinals, LaRussa.....".

Just when I had learned several key player's names and positions, we moved back to Kansas.

Now, I have to endure unending conversations about college ball. It's all about Mangino and football, Bill Self and basketball. Jayhawks, Jayhawks Jayhawks!

There is no escaping sports!

Oh, well. It could be worse. You know what? At the school auction there was a baseball on the silent bidding table. I picked it up and it was signed by Ozzie Smith. I didn't have to ask who he was, I even bid on the ball for my husband, but sold for $40.00, I don't think many people knew who he was. But the Bill Self ball, that sold for hundreds of dollars and everybody in the room knew who he was......even me. I hope they don't change coaches for awhile.


MrsMama said...

April, I'd be *happy* not to talk sports with you. Not only am I not interested, oops I mean uneducated in the details, my DH is perhaps the only man I know who is not into sports. So our whole family is pretty clueless. I'm not even sure when the Superbowl is playing - only that there are rumors that it conflicts with Jane Austen on Masterpiece. (gasp!)

Becky said...

Heh...I'll join you in the no-sports-talk club. We don't follow any sports here. Surprisingly, I DO know who is playing in the SuperBowl today, but only because my Dad is a Patriots fan and my husband used to be a Giants fan. LOL

Jenni said...

Psst, I've lived here for 16 years and I didn't know who Bill Self was. Five minutes from now I'll probably have forgotten. I don't know who Ozzie Smith is either.

Shoot, I only recently stopped distinguishing between K-State and KU by asking, "Do you mean the purple people or the funny birds?" I once made the mistake of buying a KU sweatshirt at a garage sale because it looked like a nice, warm sweatshirt. People began harassing me because they assumed I cared about college sports. I had to stare at them blankly and say, "Hey, it was 25 cents!"

I now know that K-State is the one with the vet school (my daughter wants to go) and that they have the Kansas wildflower site and do the 4-H thing. Oh, and they are in Manhattan while the funny bird people are in Lawrence. If I happen to wear that sweatshirt in public and you yell, "Rock Chalk Jayhawk" at me, I will look at you like you lost your friggin' mind. Because I only care about teams my kids are on, and that just barely. Please do not begin to discuss with me why the Patriots do not deserve to win the Super Bowl. I will kick you out of my house. The buffalo wing dip is for a CSI or Jane Austen marathon or possibly the Super Bowl commercials, not some stoopid football game:o)

Jenni said...

Haha! Someone else mentioned Jane Austen. I had no idea that was actually going on at the same time. Maybe I will torture the men in my family this year;o)

cndymkr said...

I too do not "talk sports". I now know more about hockey (Rangers) and baseball (Mets) only because my husband likes them. Other wise it's just background noise.

Abby said...

Oh April, I totally appreciated this post (as I'm sure you could have I would)! And I'm sorry about all those games you had to endure in the old stadium! The new one is so much nicer; you don't have to sit slantways to keep your knees from cramping anymore! But just when I learned all the players, they traded them all! So see, you'd be behind anyway, you're much better off just learning a whole new sport and being home at last!

And I do so admire that you openly admit to not liking sports talk. I always feel it is some deficiency I have, some weirdness I have to overcome! You make me feel much better :)

Lori Shaffer said...

Abby, it IS a deficiency. Would you feel better about having high blood pressure just because April had it too? And by the way...the new stadium sucks.

April, I'm not sure whether to be sorry for ruining your day by inviting you to a game, or for WASTING a perfectly good ticket on you! I had no idea we were so utterly TIRESOME! Hmph!

april said...

Lori! I was wondering when you were going to come over here and let me have it.

I agree with one thing you said...the new stadium sucks, oh wait two things...the tiresome baseball talk.

Sorry Abby, I feel like the new stadium was a ginormous waste of money for a city that already had one of the prettiest stadiums. The new one is like going to an exclusive movie theatre. It's waaaay to fancy for a stupid baseball team.