This is part 2 of an ongoing kickball series. Read part 1 here.
I was ready that Sunday at noon. But no one else was there.
My first team practice with the Stonewall Kickball League was the day before at Veteran’s Park, where I learned a kickball looks nothing like a soccer ball. A quick Internet search beforehand would have eliminated any doubt, but I wanted to be surprised. It was a lot bigger than I thought it would be. And red. Each player made contact with the ball with varying degrees of power, many of them popping it fast like a zit. Some did it with a bitter annoyance reserved for kicking an old Christmas tree to the curb. Others launched and watched it hang in the sky like a majestic collection of balloons.
Then I learned how to bunt. This is when you turn your foot slightly to the right – for a leftie like me, to the left – and barely kiss the ball. You tap it and run to first base. If the ball went too far out of the chalk lines, it was a foul. If it stayed in and you got to the base without the ball tagging you, you were safe.
The bunt immediately reminded me of cake – lemon, pound, short. With glaze without glaze. It didn’t matter. That’s how my brain filed it. I began to visualize the ball as this domed sponge cake you might serve mid-morning or afternoon, and I was smacking it with my foot instead of my mouth.
The next day, I was hungry to start the game. But I was virtually alone. The captains of my all-female team, Chicks are for Kicks, weren’t even there yet. A few stray people dotted the grassy hill. I knew they were game officiants because they wore gray shirts, and one of them knew why no one was there.
“Oh, they’re still at brunch,” he said.
He accepted that everyone – everyone – was late to the game as if it was an excuse on the same level as getting stuck in traffic. It was going to take awhile. There was no way out of it. Only time would move it along.
Around 12:30, my team started to show up. Vivian brought a cooler of fresh mimosas with a pack of plastic champagne glasses tucked into the side pouch. As a staple of any good brunch, this vodka and orange juice concoction became part of our pre-game ritual. We even threw a football around. I almost had a Marcia Brady moment thanks to someone’s strong arm.
Two mimosas later, I was ready to bring the bunt. I stood at home plate as my teammate pitched the ball. It was a pound cake with orange zest, which would go well with the mimosas in my bloodstream. I stuck out my left foot, angled it and popped it to the left. I took off running until I heard one of the referees shout, “Foul!” I went back into the dugout and high-fived my teammates, who like me were all a little buzzed. We tied the game at 1-1 with the other team.
Next time, I’ll do better. I’ll either drink more, drink less or visualize the ball as a different kind of bunt cake. Either way, I will have brunch on my mind.
Want to support the teams? The Stonewall Kickball League plays every Sunday until May 31 at Veteran’s Park, 2136 Central Avenue, Charlotte, NC 28205.