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Tales from a small town

Short stories about life in a small town. Non-fiction. Great reading.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Rich kids and soccer

So, what’s happened since I dropped out of the blogosphere almost a year ago? In order to find out, you’ve got to get a little background on me. I live in a small town where an oil company holds its international headquarters. That makes us unique in many ways. We’re like Ohio’s version of Beverly Hills 90210, but I work in a factory, so I come from the wrong side of the tracks when compared to the majority of this town’s residents. Everybody holding an office anywhere in this county is a Republican.

I’m 36 years old and the married father of 5 children. I love to write. I’ve had countless editorials published in our local paper and I’ve run for public office once.

As a result of my editorials and the radio commercials for my political campaign - which starred my wife and I - I’ve managed to create a rift in the ranks of the local Republican Party. I ran as an Independent, but I gave a voice to many Republicans in this area, who don’t agree with the way the new guys in office are running things. This area is gripped by such a groupthink mentality, the people who disagree with the way things are being run, never actually thought about speaking out. I did, because I don’t have anything to lose. Just like Janis Joplin sang, “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose…”

As a blue-collar worker, my political ideology could be described as a right-leaning populist at best, possibly a conservative socialist at worst. OK, enough about politics; they’re sometimes boring, and they always invite “flamers” from both sides to post the same twisted message of hate 1,000 times in a row, and people like that piss me off, whether I agree with their political views or not. I’m just including the stuff about politics as biographical substance - not as an invite for anyone to tell me how wrong I am about something – or for me to brag about how right I am about something. If you want that, you’re in the wrong blog.

Anyway, some of this stuff is relevant, because there have been many related incidents that have caught my attention. You see, I coached my 8-year-old daughter’s soccer team. This fall was my first season coaching. During the coach’s meeting at the end of the summer, the league officials thanked us coaches profusely for volunteering to coach. Evidently there’s a coaching shortage. Now, I can see why. Parents are pathetic these days!

Now, you would think that in a town where there’s a race by developers to see who can put up the most subdivisions with homes valued at $300,000+, the soccer moms and dads would be more reserved and polite. Wrong! Damn, they’re even more competitive. There isn’t a single little detail that escapes anyone’s notice when it comes to who your son or daughter should have as a coach and what ref will officiate the “important” game.

I’ve seen girls on my team (most of whom have never played before) who started off the season so uncoordinated it wasn’t funny, to finishing the season with skills that include dribbling, pull-throughs (which instantly makes the ball travel in the opposite direction) and figuring out that when you make a shot on goal, you don’t kick the ball straight at the goalie. The parents of these girls were hoping that their daughters would get bored with soccer, and a season of running and passing drills would cure them of their desire to play any more. Well, nothing could be further from the truth. Some of the parents were happy their daughters surprisingly liked soccer, while other parents were upset that their plan backfired. Isn’t that sad?

I had one instance in particular with this set of fraternal twins on my team. The one girl is tall, strong and athletic. Her twin is kind of short and dumpy. Of course, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out which one is great at soccer, and which one isn’t. Their mother favors the athletic one, and always shouts insults at the other (only when their dad isn’t around, of course.) She’s their biological mother, too!

One Saturday morning, the father showed up a little after half time. The mother was so used to casually shouting insults (many of which include catty observations about her weight) that she forgot her husband was there. She shouted out the one daughter’s pet name, which she hates her mom using in public. The mother shouted, “Hurry up, Pistachio!” Well, that did it! The daughter dropped to her knees on the field crying. The father, walked out on the field toward the ref. He put his hand in the ref’s face and said, “Time out.” (There are no time outs in this league, but there was now!) The dad marched over to his wife, grabbed her by the arm, digging his fingers almost into her armpit, marched her over to their daughter, they both kneeled in front of the daughter, and the dad says to his wife: “You will apologize, right now,” very calm. The mom did, the daughter wiped her tears away, and walked over to the sidelines, where she just sat there for a little while, to collect her composure. After about 10 minutes, I put her back in the game, and she did so much better. I’ll never forget that moment, as long as I live.

That’s the most dramatic example, but there are others, where either one, or sometimes even both of the parents, seem like they had kids, simply because it was something everyone else was doing. What these people don’t realize is, someday, their kids will be in charge of picking out their nursing homes. Oh well. Pass the Grey Poupon, please!