I got knocked on my ass before anyone even made a basket.
It’s OK – the boys were being so competitive that no one even noticed I was down.
Except the girls, and they just helped me get up quickly. God bless female solidarity.
But it took being knocked on my ass to realize a couple things that would help get me through the next couple hours. I realized I’d have to toughen up in order to not be knocked on my ass (or my face) again. So I followed some rules.
My Rules for Co-Ed Basketball (also, “Basketball for Kindergartners”)
One: Hustle. This means “move fast.” Very fast.
Two: When a wall of a man comes barreling toward you on his way to the basket, get out the way! (Usually when a wall of a man comes barreling toward me, I stand my ground and smile flirtatiously. Unfortunately, I quickly learned this approach doesn’t work in co-ed basketball.)
Three: Keep your knees bent and your hands out, no matter how lame you look.
But really, you can throw the first three rules out the window in exchange for this last, important one.
After about 10 minutes of the first game, I put myself on the bench. My confidence was shot, and I decided it had all been a mistake. I can’t hardly run on the treadmill without hurting myself, much less actually be a contributor to this game. What made me think I could do this without ending up in the E.R.?
And then I thought, You know what?! I put my workout clothes on, I drove all the way to the court, and goddamn it if I’m not going to do all I can to have a good time or at least get a good workout!
My legs are just as good as everyone else’s. I know how to shoot a basketball, even if I’m not Michael Jordan. Goddamn it, I can do this and I will not allow myself to care whether I look dumb trying.
So I “boxed out” and I covered my opponent so well she never touched the ball. I even got a couple passes and took a few shots. Though I didn’t actually make any baskets (details, details) I only got one airball, so I considered that a small victory.
Three hours later, I was proud of myself just for staying in the game. Thanks to my newly acquired gym membership (no excuses, remember?) I was able to keep up the whole time. Sure, sure, I got a little winded at the end, but you should have seen my defense!
And I left the court remembering what it felt like to be a kid, when I knew I could do almost anything if I put my mind to it.
So, I’m playing basketball again this week. And volleyball is up next.
Oh yeah, and I also wasn’t the only one wearing yoga pants.