Wednesday, February 2, 2011
He says he wants to lift weights. Get his body back in shape for football. He has a Spring Jamboree he wants to be ready for..starting as a Junior. Starting Center this next year. Taking the place of one of his best buds, Matt Carter. Matt will be graduating this Spring.
But I am sure gonna miss those baseball games. First part of every baseball season, it's still cold. It's still getting dark early. You're sitting out there on the field, bundled up. Loving every freezing minute. My spot was always right outside the fence, at home plate. I love making the calls. Striiiiiiiiiiike, ball, and YOU'RE OUTTA THERE!!!! And letting the umpire know when you thought he had made a lousy call.
I love the smell of the dirt. The hamburgers on the grill behind the concession stand. The boys in the dug out. Hollering out all crazy kind of stuff. To their own teammates as well as the opponents.
I'll even miss the age old tradition. I didn't even know it was happening. I of course, was not asked.
We got to the game. Getting our chairs set out. Getting ready for the game. The boys start heading out to the field. The first one I see is Hunter Suber. Our opening pitcher on the mound. I am saying to Mims..."What in heck is wrong with Hunter..does he look different to you?" We're both looking, trying to figure it. Then Hunter starts popping his cap on and off his head. A nervous habit all men seem to have. And I see it. I see what looks different. HE IS BALD!!! I mean like ..you can see the veins in his head...bald. I was like..OMGosh...what in the heck??? Then I start looking at all of them. They ALL looked different.
The talk amongst the parents begins. I can hear laughter, some talking under their breath, and some out and out exclamations. I hear Angie Suber LOUDLY, telling Hunter's Daddy what she thinks of Hunter's head. She is SO upset. I'm trying not to laugh..because she surely does not think it's funny. She is upset. They have an Olan Mills portrait appointment that next Saturday. For Easter pictures! She looks like she wants to tear his behind up and cry all at the same time.
I began to look earnestly for Zach. He played far right field. I can see him. He's way outfield, but he looks the same. His hair was still long and curly. I can see it at the bottom of his cap in the back. I thought to myself. Thank the lord. But Zach was so funny about his hair. It didn't surprise me that he was not one of the ones that succumbed to the shave. Tradition or not. Solidarity or not.
Inning over. They all begin to come infield. I've turned my head to talk to someone. Not paying a lot of attention. I was mostly listening to the other parents carrying on about their boys' hair. Some knew beforehand. Some, obviously, did not. Zach is up to bat. Mims is tapping me on the arm. To pay attention. And to look. He's telling me to look. I turned around and something...looked very strange. I couldn't quite put my finger on it at first. His hair looked weird. It was still long in the back. But it looked kind of like he had tucked behind his ears on the sides. Like a girl. The umpire calls time. And Zach steps out of the batters box. He begins to nervously "pop his cap" on and off his head. And then I see it. What looks weird. My child could not just shave his head like normal kids. He could not just be like everybody else. Because he never is. Like everybody else. Zach has let those boys shave him a MOHAWK. He has shaved the sides...and has a CURLY STRIP going down the top of his head in the center, all the way to the back of his head.
I came OUT of my chair. I was standing as close to the fence as I could get without jumping it. I leaned into the wire mesh, gritting my teeth, and told Zach, "Boy, you'd better hope those clippers are still in that dugout, cause you are shaving the rest of that crap off before we go home tonight". He never moved. Never even flinched. Just stood there, and a slow cock-eyed grin started to form. He turned his head just slightly in my direction and winked. HE WINKED AT ME.
All those parents I had found so humorous before, were now laughing at me! Telling me it will be alright. It's just hair. I sat back down in my chair behind the batters box. And fumed for about 30 minutes. I kept looking at all the other boys. Wondering, what in the world possesses kids to do crazy stuff like that? My thoughts were similar to those of Angie Suber. Zach has a funny shaped head. Bless his heart. He just looks better with a head full of hair.
Somewhere toward the last few innings, Larry Edwards walked up to my chair. Mclane's Daddy. Copped a squat, and proceeded to tell me and Mims what a good son we had. He had chaperoned one of the school trips and had stayed in the room with Zach and a couple of the other boys. He said he just wanted us to know, what a good boy we had. A polite boy. Somehow, the good Lord always knows when to send someone your way. Larry's words absolutely diffused most of my anger.
After the game, we went back in the dugout, and finished off his shave job. He wanted to keep the Mohawk of course, but his school has strict dress and hair codes/guidelines. So, off came the rest of his pretty hair.
It's a funny story now, but it wasn't so funny that night. I wish I was going to have a funny story to tell this year. A funny memory. A story of crazy solidarity. Teammates. Rally caps. Stolen bases and home runs. I wish I had taken my camera that day. I wish I had a picture of that Mohawk, and not just a story. I wish I were still standing next to Angie Suber as her husband continues to tell her, "Angie, it's just hair. He can wear a cap in the pictures, it'll be fine." Maybe next year.