Comfort Zone.............................................. Me

After a return to soccer following my eighth grade retirement from the sport, many analysts thought that that would be the final curtain on my career.

How wrong they were.

Temporarily maddened by the triumph of knocking over children while avoiding their flailing cleats; I - apparently; it's all a little hazy - sent an email to the local rec sports coordinator expressing an interest in joining some sort of a team this winter. He acknowledged my email. I mentally acknowledged his acknowledgement. And that was that. Until a few days ago when a request for two additional players arrived in my inbox.

I thought: !!!!!!!!!! Then I thought: !!!!!!!!!! Then I wrote back and said OK but I'm not, you know, good. And the team captain wrote back and said, buck up, you'll be fine, welcome aboard.

Having thus committed myself I created a good intentions list. Good intentions are so important, aren't they? Ninety-nine percent of exercise, really. Thus, I promised myself that I would, very soon: Stretch. Start running again. Practice dribbling around those little orange cones. Buy some little orange cones. Oh, and find something sporty to wear that isn't a pair of pajama bottoms. And cleats! I would really need to get some cleats and start breaking them in before...

The second email arrived: "Roster set. First game Friday. See you all there!"

Aw, hell.

What HAVE I done? Remember when I signed Patrick up for soccer and he said, oh no, I'm going to be terrible, this is awful, I am going to be humiliated, why oh why?


I am so worried I'm about to make an utter fool out of myself. Me. On a team. With people I have never met before in my entire life. People - if their email addresses are to be believed - with soccer names like Guillermo and Enrique and Kailee.

Also the game is at 9:30. NINE. THIRTY. On a Friday night. That's like, second glass of wine o'clock. Have you ever, seriously, looked around your living room at 9:30 on a Friday night and said, "Wow, I wish I was participating in some vigorous sport right now." No. No you have not.




do you want to know what happens when a wider footed woman goes to her local sporting goods store and asks to see a selection of cleats in her size? The sales guy looks dubiously at her elegant albeit curvy hoof and steers her toward the men's section who in turn tell her to try the internet. 

And do you want to see what happens when a wider footed woman proceeds to order cleats off the internet?


The grey and black sole on the bottom belongs to my running shoe. The hot pink and orange... teeny tiny wedge shape arrow head bone crushing thing on top came in a box labeled Cleats. Ha! They are lined up at the heel and both, incidentally, purport to be size 7.5.

Now I ask you, do those two things look like they are even remotely the same size? No.   

I can't believe I signed up to do this.

Miss Marple And Me

Patrick ohhhhhhhh sooooooooo casually asked me how a person might go about talking to another person if they - let's call them A and B - always sit at different tables at lunch.

[Allow me to stop here and list all of the things I did right from this point forward:

  1. I didn't say Oh my god WHAT?
  2. I didn't ask him who B is
  3. I didn't suggest "Have you, I mean A, tried sitting down at the other table and saying hello?"
  4. I didn't point out that it was after midnight and perhaps not the best time for a social strategy session

OK. That's it.]

After choking back instincts one through four I tried to remember everything I could about being thirteen. Which... shudder. Then I started singing that Big Star song in my head. Then... focus! How DO you traverse the labyrinthine shoals of junior high? How did I? I don't think I did. Gak, junior high. In the end it took me a dictionary to find out the meaning of unrequited... FOCUS!

"Uh. Huh. The... the person always sits at the same table?"


"With the same people?"


"Are any of your friends friends with her or one of her friends?"

"Not really." [SEE WHAT I DID THERE? Ahem.]

"OK. Well. What if... what if you made a big batch of something interesting like... like bacon buns or... or doughnut holes and then went to a couple of different tables offering them to people and then wound up at the table in question?"

"Bacon buns??? You want me to walk around with a basket full of bacon buns??? And offer them to people??"

Well, when you say it like that anything would sound stupid.

"What about a shrimp boil?" And, seeing the look of utter incomprehension on Patrick's midwestern face, I translated: "Slap some newspaper down on her table and then dump eight gallons of peel-and-eat shrimp on top."

This, at least, made him laugh and in the meantime I promised I would think about it and get back to him.

So, you know, let me know what you socially comfortable types would do if you were A and wanted to get to know B better. Because I've got nothing but crustaceans.

PS Speaking of shrimp, I make a conscious effort to treat Caroline more or less exactly as I would have hated to be treated when I was her age. I mean, of course, love security structure et cetera but I have to remind myself that everything I found worry inducing at seven; Caroline mainlines. Saying yes to her requests for independence is easy (easy now that my own anxiety is managed) but encouraging her to push boundaries that I cannot even see is much harder.

But I try.

So she empties the mousetraps and reads National Geographic and when we were at the grocery store today I sent her to the seafood counter to negotiate for half a pound of shrimp. I walked a pretty good distance away - clear over to dairy - and then I watched the encounter like a charming silent movie. At first the butcher couldn't see her so she rapped on the glass of the display case and then he leaned waaaaaaay over to talk to her. They had an exchange that lasted longer than half-a-pound-of-shrimp-please and eventually she reached up and he stretched down and she left with her white paper parcel.

"Thank you," I said.

"Certainly," she replied.

And that was the end of it until I looked at the package tonight and saw two things: one, the guy had drawn a smiley face on the paper next to the label; and two, he had charged her one cent. Point Five-Two pounds of peeled deveined shrimp at a per pound cost of one penny.

Clearly I need Caroline to do my marketing more often and equally clearly it IS possible to express friendliness through shrimp. So HA! NOT such a stupid idea after all, Patrick.

PPS Thank you. That was EXACTLY what I wanted to know about programming. EXACTLY.