Confessions of a Ballophobe

10 Dec

People can be terrified of many things, and balls top my list. That rules out participation in most sports, needless to say. Not that I care. I don’t enjoy team sports, although it is regrettable. People have so much fun playing them! They laugh. They yell. They pat each other on the back. They gather for refreshments afterwards. This makes me jealous. Even if I played, I wouldn’t have fun, though, because I would be sitting on the sideline with injuries.

And therein lies the explanation: Only people who are good at sports like sports. The rest of us bumble around like the Three Stooges, contributing nothing except insurance claims. Pain hurts. We learn to avoid it. I was the proverbial “last kid to be chosen” on the team.

In softball, I sneaked to the back of the line-up continually to avoid coming up to bat, where I swung like a rusty gate while everybody yawned. In the outfield, I tried to catch a pop fly once. My team held its collective breath as the ball dropped out of the sky. Closer and closer it came, toward my outstretched hands. At the last minute, I decided to duck and cover, and the ball hammered me on the head. None of these experiences rivaled the day I was forced to pitch. Ninety-nine percent of my balls failed to cross the plate. My teammates drifted into coma waiting for anything to happen. Suddenly, Robert hit a high-speed line drive to the pitcher’s mound, where I happened to be standing in the way. It struck me squarely on the nose. Rivers of blood gushed from my cupped hands. Oh, yes. My nose was broken.

Balls were not my friend. Books were. It seems that I.Q. and athletic ability are inversely related. For the most part, people excel either intellectually or physically, although some fortunate individuals enjoy both abilities. Genetics and environment are both responsible, yet the connection is unclear. Both of my parents were sedentary, yet my sister turned out to be an All-Around-Sports-Girl. I was Brain Girl. It wasn’t until fifth grade that I learned the reason for my Ballophobia. I couldn’t see. I needed glasses, big time.

Was my poor eyesight hereditary or the result of too many hours spent with a book too close to my face in poor light, cultivating my neasightedness? No matter. The solution was to buy a pair of ugly glasses that I refused to wear, anyway. In summer camp, after our first volleyball game, I earned my obligatory nickname: Klutz. It came as no surprise. I couldn’t get the ball over the net if my biceps had been replaced by bazookas. I only wore my glasses after I turned 16, and only while driving. The rest of the time I was blind as a bat because it was more important to look good than to see well. Contact lenses changed all that, but it was too late to salvage my athletic career. By that time, I was interested in other amusements, mainly those with Y chromosomes.

I don’t fear balls anymore because they don’t factor in my life much. Later they were replaced by other high-speed projectiles, such as small children hopping up and down under my jaw or unpredictably flapping their arms or legs near sensitive parts of my body. Then my survival instincts kicked in, and I jumped clear, thankful about all the practice I got from being ballophobic. — Chris

2 Responses to “Confessions of a Ballophobe”

  1. Dot Davis December 19, 2010 at 7:02 pm #

    I enjoyed that so much, Chris! Nice happy ending!
    I’m a klutz too. I met my Waterloo at a ski resort, when I fell off the T-Bar lift on the Learner Slope and dangled by the belt of my florescent green parka until they shut down the motor (with a VERY audible grinding noise. Aye, yi yi..)
    I guess the punchline would be: It’s all been downhill from there.
    Solidarity, Sista!

    • teenwebzine December 20, 2010 at 2:17 pm #

      This is weird, but I’m a decent skiier. I’m only a klutz at ball sports. However, ski lifts terrify me. I get white knuckles from holding on. The EDGE MAGNET threatens to pull me off and throw me into the abyss.

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