Three-Pitch Gypsies

Every Friday I play softball in Toronto. It is three-pitch, so it means nothing. Anyone with even rudimentary familiarity with a bat can hit, as long as the ball is in the right place.

But even so it is a small glory to hit an opposite-field home run while teammates are on base. To want badly to come to the plate, to dance to the ball, to field, to run.

Last night the team we played against wore tight jeans, ironic ties, cute dresses. They had music playing on a boom-box and drank and smoked on the field, in the cage. When I spoke to them they were light, polite, disarming. One, as thin as a sparrow, had his back foot on the edge of the bag I was fielding, straining to keep it on. The ball came, he was safe.

Because of how light he was and the visible strain, I said “I could have breathed and blown you off the base.”

His head tilted like a puppy’s and he told me that it was possible I could have done that because I am so big.

I meant to make conversation, not to intimidate.

Is it possible I meant to intimidate?

I smiled and kind of shook my head, and shrugged, as I retreated back to my position.

What I should have said: “That’s just a combination of genetics and emotional eating.”

Their first hit to the outfield, the third or fourth inning, was hit hard but right to the fielder, who caught it.

From their bleacher there were cheers, not for the catch.

I want to congratulate them at every turn, their slightest victory, but I refrain because I don’t want to be weird.

We beat them badly.

Our team scatters after the game. They are all still there, with their music, their tall-boys of Carling.

A couple dances by the picnic table, to the music.

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