It’s funny how a just the mere mention of a word can trigger memories and bring either tears or a smile to your face. In my case, it’s usually tears, those of the good kind.
These days, as I rapidly bear down on the dreaded age of 50, I seem to leak like a faucet. I don’t know when it started or when it’s gonna end. Hopefully never.
The tears that I cry can best be described thusly and the source is almost always the same. It happens in an instant and before I know it, all the cylinders are pumping full blast. It usually happens in private, when no when else is around and the house is quiet and I seem to have the world to myself. Everything is still except my mind, it races with thoughts that I can’t contain.
Did you ever eat a nice, fat, ripe peach? You take that first bite and juice sorta just explodes down your cheeks and dribbles off your lips. A couple of the drops might make their way down to shirt and leave the telltale stain. The taste in your mouth is somehow both bitter and sweet at the same time. I think my kid has an image of me as being some kinda “tough guy” with a soft side that’s rarely shown in public. Here’s what happened…
The other evening was her first soccer practice for a new team that she tried out for and made. Naturally she was a little nervous since these were all new kids and new coaches and the competition level has stepped up to a higher level. No more of that “everybody gets a trophy” and “everybody is the best” kinda stuff that happened when she was younger. Some folks have a problem with being competitive, I don’t but that’s probably another subject for another time.
Anyway, the practice was scheduled to last for about an hour and half. No problem, I could always run errands and drop in for a quick beer with the fella’s before I made my way back and that’s just what I did. The conversation at the bar, which is usually quite intriguing, was stale at best and had devolved into the subject of whether or not girls fart. I was outta there pretty quickly.
I got back to the practice field and watched about the last twenty minutes or so. My kid was doing ok but looked a little timid
and out of place. It looked like she was afraid of going all out. This is not one of her traits. Rather than interrupt, I remained off in the distance where she couldn’t see me.
As practice ended, I walked over and asked her how things went. Naturally, I got the one word answer that most parents hear in their lifetime but inside they know that there’s more coming. “Good!”.
When we got to the car, I related what I had observed about her play and how she was acting on the field. I asked her if anything was wrong. Here’s what I got back.
”Well Dad, it WAS my first practice with a new team and I was a little nonplussed.”
I thought to myself, my nine year old had used the word “nonplussed? I kinda sorta smiled and changed the subject from soccer to vocabulary. Since this isn’t a word you hear everyday, I was amazed. Where in the world did you pick that up? Who told you what it meant? She told me she gets this magazine at her mom’s that has all kinds of new words to use and it just seemed like the right time to use it.
Later on in the evening, after she went to bed, I went to my porch to have a smoke and nurse a beer before I too turned in for the night. I thought to myself, “Nonplussed indeed.”
And that’s when the tears that I mentioned earlier came. There’s a little fountain of hope in my heart that’s always been there, only this time, I think I could really feel it.