Monday, April 07, 2008

The Post in Which I Manage to Dodge Every Ball Joke in the Book

When you've been blogging for a certain period of time you hit a the No More Ideas wall. It's kind of like when you go on date number five with someone you really like and realize that you burned through all of your good stories on dates one through four and that you better distract him with your boobs before he realizes that deep down you're painfully boring. If, like me, your best writing seems to come from the "personal tragedy" trunk you'll occasionally find yourself almost wishing for tragedy to befall you in hopes of wringing out a good blog entry. In desperation you might even sign up for ridiculously bad ideas for the writing potential alone -- this is the blog version of showing 'em your tits. This is also how I came to sign up for a sports team at work. Well... "sport" is probably not the most accurate description of this particular activity. It's dodgeball. But there are rules and I'll probably accelerate my heart rate and I am half considering wearing sweat bands so really this is as close as I've gotten to a sport since the computer programming contest I entered during my sophmore year in college. I am so sure that dodgeball will be tragic enough to warrant an at least semi-successful blog entry that I've started writing three days before my first game.

On the day of our first game my team leader scheduled a "strategy session" during lunch. Honestly I had not even considered the possibility of dodgeball strategy until the Outlook reminder popped up 15 minutes before the meeting but apparently other team members had plans for the game beyond "try not to die" and "write a hilariously self deprecating blog post." Curious. We met in the a conference room and wrote things on the white board and got answers to questions like, "Seriosuly it's in Brooklyn? at 9pm? WTF?" It was at this meeting that I learned that dodgeball has a lot of rules. Frankly, I am shocked that we expect children to master such a complicated game. You can't throw balls at peoples heads. There are special small white balls that can only be thrown by girls. And apparently the point of the game is to hit people with balls or, in my case, try very very hard to avoid getting hit by balls (and, not to spoil the surprise, fail).

I arrived at the elementary school gym where the game/opportunity to sacrifice my self worth for the sake of this blog was being held at 8:45 at night after some personal strategizing over beer and fish and chips. Our team shirts were black which I consider especially fortuitous: match-y and slimming! I paired mine with black leggings (the scourge, I know but it was cold and I don't own any work out pants that fit because i don't play sports. or work out.) and the cutest bright green short shorts. My second reason for joining dodgeball (after blog related needs) was to have an excuse to wear these extremely ass flattering shorts in public (this is also one of the main reasons why i am considering buying a bike). As you can see I was focused on the most important aspect of any sporting event: Outfit Choice.

We had a brief chance to warm up pregame which is when I discovered that any dreams that I may have been harboring about latent savant-like dodgeball abilities would remain only in my head because in reality I can neither throw nor catch nor, most disappointingly, dodge. Even more depressing -- my cohorts, despite all of their big strategizing talk, were not much better off. A little about my teammates. We work in software development. I think it's safe to assume that everyone on my team was picked last during PE on a pretty regular basis.

And our opponents? These people seemed rather... committed. There was growling and seriousness all around. I am positive that everyone on this team owns at least 5 pairs of work out pants and I suspect they were all outraged that the Dodgeball movie was a comedy and not a documentary along the lines of Murderball. They obviously wished that killing wimpy software developers with the red balls of death was not against the league rules. To make matters worse none of the guys were particularly hot.

I doubt anyone will be surprised to learn that my team sucks but I was a bit shocked at the level of awful we managed to attain. Each round of dodging and balling theoretically lasts for 7 minutes. unless your entire team gets eliminated in say the first 2 minutes. Which, I assure you, can happen. But on a court full of young adults raised on a steady diet of after school specials where the underdog surges ahead to win it all/get the girl/say no to drugs during the first minute of play everyone almost believed that the software people could bring it home -- maybe we had secret untapped reservoirs of dodgeball talent! Even our fierce opponents seemed a little skeptical that nerdy runs all the way to the bone. At one point early in the game as I held a squishy red ball in my hand, poised to throw, the guy across the court from me looked a little afraid, I quickly shook my head and assured him not to worry as there was next to no chance of me hitting him. He may have momentarily thought this a reverse psychology ploy but I quickly provided evidence of my honesty by throwing as hard as I could resulting in the ball hitting the ground about 1 foot in front of me and bouncing up to nearly smack me in the face. Take that!

At half time I was forced to submit to a huddle where the following advice was meted out:
  1. Stop sucking
  2. Maybe we should spit on the other team members to distract them.
And so we continued round after round of defeat (thankfully there were no loogies hacked)-- I would have been demoralized but it's hard to take dodgeball seriously enough to be truly upset at my lack of skill. Late in the game an opponent approached me to apologize for something he said about my shirt (which, I admit might have had the bottom pulled through the collar for that sexy shirt/bra hybrid look). I guess he thought I heard his mocking and might have been offended. "Hey, I'm sorry, i didn't mean to make fun of you." I responded to this by assuring him that making fun of me was totally encouraged. "Oh, feel free, I suck A LOT. You can make fun of me over on your side, or here to my face or tomorrow at the water cooler -- on Monday I'll be posting a blog entry with some suggestions for other possible ways to mock me that you may have missed so make sure to check that out."

So. We lost. Sort of.. see it turns out we were supposed to play a second team of (one assumes) burly guys and lithe women. Except they never showed up, and so, despite the math we did post game (I try to contain my cool but it's so hard...) that proves that my team lost an average of five players per minute whenever we were on the court, technically we're 2 and 2! Provided we can find a way to continue taking out teams before they arrive at the games (hacking into the subway system?) I have high hopes for our season.

This entry is cross-posted on Burt Reynolds' Mustache


Elizabeth said...

Nice meeting you yesterday. This post was hysterical. Good luck with the rest of your season.

lfar said...

To make matters worse none of the guys were particularly hot.

That IS the worst. I was captain of my intramural soccer team last year and at the captains meeting there seemed to be some hunks. But come game time ("Captains, come shake hands") there were only chubby smelling boys. COME ON!

And yes, a hand shake can be the start of something beautiful.

amy said...

so nice to meet you yesterday and to find your blog today! looking forward to hanging out again sometime soon!

Robert W. said...

Excellent! Glad to hear that we techies can stay true to our roots and really, really screw up at sports.

And, remember: it's all about metrics. Sure, one metric is "how many games do you win?" But a much *better* metric is, "how much do you improve over time?"

Going from "it takes 15 seconds for me to get out" to "it takes 1 minute for me to get out" is a 4-fold improvement. That's spectacular, right?

There's nowhere to go but up.

Allie said...

Wow...I read but obviously not the important stuff. Totally took me a full day to recognize the blog was a Group blog. Glad I found you though! Super funny!

I still got made fun of this morning coming into work...nice job!

Max S said...

I have 3 strate-gems for next game:

1) Watch the girl balls.

2) Don't get injured. At least you made it out unscathed. I was not so lucky.

3) Idea for practice: If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball.