A few years ago I was kind of in the throes of depression. My first marriage had ended in a flurry of affairs my wife decided to have. Being cuckolded can do some things to your confidence and mind-set. Especially when, after crying about how, "I never knew what I had until it was gone", she comes back, then leaves for someone she claims beat her and stole the dog. Wow, if I am worse than that, how worthwhile can i really be?
I kind of had my "mid-life crisis" early. I was in my early 30s with no prospects for companionship and could not remember the last time I had met someone close to my age and single, never mind adding in the possibility of being interesting to me as a potential companion for the rest of my life. As someone who does not drink or like to dance or party, it is not like there were a lot of places to meet people.
Compounding that, I was taking a Spanish class which, even fresh off that divorce, even with watching Mom struggle with breast cancer twice, other cancers twice, then the one that struck her down at 45 years of age, even with having 9 family members or close friends die (including Mom and Grandpa who I was VERY close to) in a shade under six months, that Spanish class was far and away the most miserable experience of my life.
I would rather have gone through the back to back years of full-blown pneumonia again than take even one term of Spanish.
I cannot adequately express how much I hated, hated, hated every second of that class. I never felt like I was "getting it", I never knew where I stood in relation to where I should as far as how much I had learned, and so forth. I really, really, really hated that class. I still get upset just thinking about it. It was miserable. Time for a tangent.
My sister and brother in law had been encouraging me for a while to go with them to his home town of Bordonal, Michicoan, Mexico. I think a lot of it was they saw my frustrations and loneliness and wanted to help. Plus, they loved taking people there.
So I went. Had a great time. And at one point, a game of basketball started.
Now, the more you know me, the more you know how I felt about this. With apologies to the Goose, basketball is, in many ways, THE great love of my life. I am still known to sit in front of the tv bouncing a basketball on the carpet or spinning it on my fingers or practicing the wrist-flick that is my shooting motion, watching the rotation to make sure it has that gentle back-spin I love….even when the tv show is something like Burn Notice, which has absolutely nothing to do with basketball. I just love having the ball in my hands, talking about basketball, watching basketball, playing basketball or thinking about basketball.
Now, remember…I could scarcely communicate with anyone outside of the one girl from Sacramento there for her quinciera. But how much communication do you need in basketball? I did what I do…scored when nobody else could, passed to make sure everyone got some shots up, and made sure to block the shot of the tallest guy on the opposition, a 6'8" monster who had not yet bulked up yet. I rebounded, played defense, and did the other thing I really do...I sweated.
As in...there was not a dry inch of skin or cloth within 3' of me.
The game went on for probably two hours or so. I had a great time. We actually had quite a crowd watching which was kind of laughable. While there were 4 or 5 of us who could play a little bit, there were also 6 or 8 people rotating in and out who…well…if they just double dribbled and ran 5 steps, it would have been a vast improvement. They were more likely to double dribble 5 or 6 times, take 8 or 10 steps and do this multiple times on the same possession.
But you roll with the conventions of the group you are playing. I did not say anything because I did not care. We were playing basketball. We were having a great time. And there was a crowd, which I REALLY love...there is something deep inside me where I play better with people watching.
After the game I looked like I always do after playing basketball….which is to say, extremely nasty. How do I say this mildly? I sweat. A lot. As in, I can post up anybody because nobody wants to touch me. I look like I just stepped out of a shower and have not toweled off yet. Except I do not exactly smell of strawberries and rose petals.
So as I am walking away, flushed, sweating like Niagara Falls, a little sunburned, but happy, several girls in a bunch made a point of stopping to say something to me.
And, being me, I had no clue what they said. Now, a normal person has several ways to deal with this situation. I think it says a lot about me the way I approached it.
I said a few things about having just had 4ish classes of Spanish and not understanding subjunctives.
Wow. Subjuncitves? Really? A simple, "Lo siento, no entiendo mucho de espanol" would have been fine. A "gracias" would have been great. "I do not really understand past participles"? What an idiot!
I think it says a whole lot that when it is something I truly want…such as to play a game of basketball…I can find a way to communicate. I quickly adapted to the rules they were playing by (talented players by the rules, everyone else could travel at will, for example), figured out the scoring system (1s inside an artificial line, 2s outside it) and who was on my ever-changing team.
But put me in a situation where I am unsure and uncomfortable and I resort to a didactic discussion on my short-comings.
Makes you wonder how the Goose puts up with me.
On the bright side, it was one of the great breaks of my life. Because I later found out that several of them were close to my age and interested in talking to me more. And, me being a green card ticket at the time...well...you know...
And by not being able to communicate with them, I was later blessed with the best thing to ever happen to me, marrying the Goose. With her I can talk just fine.
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