Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Desperately Seeking Smile cream post...0 comments...OK, I'll do my best to improve...

Jonny at Jonny's site esoterically wanted me to write about the word "smile" was tough...but I respond to ALL suggestions...

Desperately Seeking Smile

I don't mean to sound like Kevin from the Wonder Years here, but when I was 7 and growing up in the suburbs, I was always running around and couldn't sit still. I didn't have ADD or anything, but the world just seemed so cotton picking BIG, that I thought if I sat still for a moment, I'd miss out on something. Claire, my best friend, would probably think nothing has changed. I can see her now, sitting with arms folded, looking at me with her mardy blonde face, and saying, "Alyson - slow down! What's with the big dopey smile on your face?"

I can't help it though, although I did have a brief lose my smile phase. It seems as though my mum loves to remind me daily of my Grade 2 PE report - "Alyson has not fully participated in games this year - she seems unhappy at the thought of any physical activity" - in fact, it's a house catchphrase now - even though I'm pretty fit (even post baby) and surf and skate and gym up a storm, I'm still tagged as the "lazy one"...I think I know why they wrote that though...

We played a game at school called Bootball which is possibly the most demented game I've ever played. The rules were that the fielding team...well they fielded, and it was played the same way as baseball. Except that instead of pitching, the "pitcher" just threw a basketball to you to catch. Then, if you caught it, you could kick it anywhere you liked. Our school playground was on a big sloping hill, and that made the game even more demented. Provided you could kick it with a tiny amount of force, you could get the basketball to pitch and spin on the edge of the hill, and roll amusingly just out of reach of the fielder. Our school nun (yes, I am Catholic, although deeply lapsed - the same nun told me to shush up in church one day, and that was that) invented it, while bored out of her mind watching Highway To Heaven one Sunday. Given she also to visit the students (I remember she came to my house one day to play Connect 4 and my Dad was deliberately losing so she'd go home quicker), I can imagine that inventing silly games to play were probably her idea of a fun night out.

There was a girl at our school called Rachel Jane Peacock. She was our school whiz at sports. She was proper athletic, and the first person I ever saw in my life do the splits. I was an OK runner, I made state relay titles and things, but she was just a lightning rod of pace. Sadly, she grew breasts and was never the same again. But back then, we used to point knowingly at the map as we waited for the 88 Olympics, as if a 10 year old kid was going to win gold. Silly kids. A bronze was at least realistic.

To cut a long story short, Rachel had kicked the ball and got the right amount of spin, but a diving Kevin McKay had thrown the thing back quickly just before it ran out of reach down the bottom of the hill, so she had only made it to third. It was my turn to kick, but I was picking daisys and talking to my friend Jess. "Cerm orn Alyson" said the nun, gently. "Geez!" I said, in my best sulky teen voice. "Come on Y" yelled Rachel, in a manner that was just a bit too matey for my sulky self. Incidentally, I've tried to remember why suddenly at 7 I was feeling sulky, and I honestly can't think...was that the week I was dark because Live Aid was on instead of Punky Brewster? Anyway, whoever the pitcher was threw me the ball, and I caught it, and I really did try my best to kick it, but I had new Hush Puppies on, and I think that in my mind, I was probably concerned between drop and kick that I'd scuff my shoes, and the ball dribbled a centimetre from my toe. There's a rule in Australia - "tippernay run" - which means if you have made contact with the ball, everyone runs. And so, I ran. Oh I was fine, made it to second. But Rachel, she was screwed. She ran like a girl heading for the gallows, and was promptly "tagged" with the ball by a fat kid, revelling in the fact that he had beaten the star in something athletic. She was out.

She didn't take it well. She stormed up to second base, where I had found a ladybug to be my friend.

"WHAT..." she said sternly, "...was THAT?"

I stood quietly for a moment, looked at Rachel, looked at the ladybug, looked back at Rachel. The nun sprinted (well ambled) over to us, and said in a stern voice "Now girls...remember...Jesus would turn the other cheek...he would accept mistakes happen..."

Rachel turned and looked the nun dead in the eye and said "Jesus...would have got me a HOME RUN!" in a "I'll screawm and screawm until I'm sickkk" voice.

And something about the whole situation was just so utterly funny, so weird, and so demented, that I laughed. I sat on second base and cried with laughter. I couldn't play anymore that day. In fact, every time I looked at Rachel after that, I just burst into laughter, the harder she played, the funnier I found it. Every time we went out to play sport, as she stretched and limbered up, I couldn't help but fact, I casually picked on her many times in the years afterwards...once she dropped a library book in Grade 12, and I wandered past muttering "Jesus wouldn't have dropped it". She looked like the weariest girl in the world.

She can always rest assured though that she has caused me to never lose my smile...


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