Tuesday, April 26, 2005

The Sound of a Kettle Drum- a forgotten memory

I was playing softball with by church league team when I remembered an incident from my childhood that I had buried somewhere in a corner of my mind. I see it all now as if I’m standing just to the left of the entire scene. I was a kid playing catcher in a league that used a pitching machine. I was too old to be hitting off a tee but too young to handle a pitcher. Our little arms just didn’t have the strength and accuracy to get a ball across the plate. We still had a pitcher but he just hung out on the pitcher's mound next to the pitching machine. The machine always threw strikes but it couldn’t stop me from distrusting it when I stepped into that batter’s box. I had a bit of a phobia. Things changed, however, on defense. I had the easiest job. I was the catcher squatting behind the plate. I knew where the ball was going each time; right across the plate. I'’d catch it on strikes and just watch it sail off when the batter got a hold of it. On one particular occasion neither happened. This is a little embarrassing, but funny. I don’t remember how it affected me then and maybe that’s why I really didn’t remember it until recently.

I remember the batter swung and missed. I must have lost focus because I missed it too. Now boys require and extra piece of equipment. A ball and bat aren'’t the only things boys take to the ball field. It is just an odd coincidence that the need for a jock and cup coincides with a boys’ awareness of modesty. It’s a touchy subject eventhough we’'d joke about it in locker rooms. That ball I missed hit my cup center mast and the percussion of it reverberated audibly like a kettle drum. The cup did its job as is was designed to do; maybe it did it too well. The ball ricocheted back from between my legs and back to the pitcher even before the sound was out of my ears.

I don’t remember my reaction much less anyone else’s. I wonder if I’'d laugh now. For that matter, I wonder if I laughed then. I think it’'s funny and I think about it now everytime I see a catcher.

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