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Santa Maria Sun / Humor

The following article was posted on November 24th, 2010, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 11, Issue 37 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 11, Issue 37

Giving thanks

Krider can thank his parents for his coping skills

By ROB KRIDER

One of my favorite holidays of the year is Thanksgiving. I love it for the obvious reasons: a day off of work, an excuse to eat tons of food, and the chance to hit children. I’m referring to my once a year opportunity to go outside with the nieces and nephews and play the role of Uncle Rob in a pick-up game of football. The kids learn quickly that Uncle Rob doesn’t believe in “two hand touch” football. Uncle Rob shows the kids that American football is a game that teaches the value of hard work, overcoming hardships, victory, defeat, and sometimes a dislocated wrist: “Walk it off. You’ll be fine. Fourth grade girls love guys with scars!”

I really love getting together with my extended family without the usual reasons we use to see each other like, “Can I borrow your truck?” “Will you paint my bathroom?” or “Could you come by and fix my car?” It’s nice that we get together on Thanksgiving to enjoy each other’s company (and hit each other’s kids on the backyard makeshift football field). It seems like the world is so hectic these days with the day-to-day important things in life—like careers, our own kids, and Playstation 3—that we never see each other anymore. But more than seeing my family (they aren’t much to look at), I enjoy hearing the stories my family tells.

I come from a family of storytellers. Every Thanksgiving dinner is decorated with tall tales, funny childhood anecdotes, and, oftentimes, bold lies. When the bird is half eaten and the beer and wine start flowing, the real entertainment begins. Each year it seems like my mother and father tell me more and more about my childhood I never knew (or completely blocked out, in some cases). As I get older, my parents start leaking out more of the “secrets” they never told me. These aren’t life-changing revelations; I didn’t have a twin sister I ate while in my mom’s uterus or anything weird like that. Just goofy stuff that happened while I was growing up. Last year they laid this one on me.

It was a company picnic when I was probably in the fourth grade or so. The company my dad worked for decided it would be better to just buy a keg of beer and have a barbecue in a public park instead of giving their employees a raise. During the picnic, they had the requisite softball game. All of the employees and their family members were allowed to play. During the game, my dad ended up being the pitcher, the big man, the dude in charge (ironically that wasn’t his position at work). As random luck would have it, I ended up playing on the opposing team. When it was my turn to bat, I stood at the plate and could hear my mom yelling from the sidelines, “Go get ’em Bobby!” (Yes, my name used to be Bobby. Never mention it again.) My mom was screaming for me to hit a home run. I was in the fourth grade and weighed about 45 pounds. I could barely hold the 10-pound bat that was longer than I was tall (the company only brought adult-sized bats and coincidentally only adult-type beverages, which my mom and dad were attempting to “drink their lost raise worth of” to the best of their ability).

Everything was set up for my dad to throw me a softie pitch and let me feel the glory of getting a big hit in an “adult” game. My dad made the pitch, the ball came to me, and I closed my eyes and swung for the fences. Crack! Miraculously I crushed the softball and sent it a whopping four or five yards, landing on the ground right in front of my dad’s feet. I could hear my inebriated mother yelling, “Run, Bobby! Run!” I was so excited I dropped the heavy bat and started sprinting as hard as I could with my little fourth grade legs to first base. My mom kept screaming at the top of her lungs. What did my dad do? He picked up the ball, and threw a line drive to the first baseman. It was a perfect throw. So perfect in fact that he threw his own son out! No over throw, no taking his time to let a little kid in an adult game get a simple base hit. Oh, no. He threw my little ass right out.

My mom wasn’t having that. Her yells of encouragement to her little boy turned into screams of betrayal at her husband, “How could you do that? Your own kid? You threw out your own kid?!” She’d been hitting the keg pretty hard, and she wasn’t letting this go. She screamed, pointed fingers, ran out on the field, and let my dad have it right in front of his bosses and all of his co-workers. It was ugly. I stood at first base with my heart broken. I was confused and disappointed in myself. I was also incredibly embarrassed at the scene my parents were making. The game was on hold while they had it out on the pitcher’s mound.

My dad got tired of hearing my mom yell and knew she was in no mood to be reasoned with. So he picked her up, threw her over his shoulder, and carried her off of the field. Once he got her to the sidelines, he threw her off of his shoulder, where she came crashing down and hit her big toe on a sprinkler head, breaking her toe. Her screaming only worsened. He told her to “walk it off.” It wasn’t his greatest moment. He continued to pitch a softball no hitter while someone else drove his wife to the emergency room.

Hearing the story decades later resulted in a rush of repressed memories. It also sort of gave me an understanding of why I had just been so hard on my poor little nieces and nephews out on the football field. Being a total jackass to little kids while playing sports is a family tradition. Happy Thanksgiving!

Rob is planning on spending some time with a therapist and sending the bill directly to his parents.




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