It was good clean fun, and we nearly killed one another.
It started out innocent enough, a friendly adult-kid game at a birthday party for my 3-year-old twins. It ended with sprained thumbs, jammed fingers, and bruised egos. Even the potential for future offspring was compromised frequently (if you know what I mean). There were tears of pain and roars of joy. At one point in the mayhem bodies were strewn across the lawn. The so-called adults beaned their opponents twice for effect, and the opponent took the battering respectfully. The “litluns” were the wiser of the bunch, at times using the adults as shields, moving in and out of our shadows to strike with dead-on accuracy.
The first game we played was dodgeball. The second game we played was dodgeball. Before the food was served we played dodgeball. While we ate the food we thought about the next dodgeball game. After we ate the food we played dodgeball. We missed most of the presents being opened because we were playing dodgeball.
Dodgeball. Dodgeball. Dodgeball.
My girls turned 3 and I was out playing dodgeball.
Don’t take this the wrong way. The birthday girls weren’t ignored. They joined us for the first round of the dodgeball playoffs. After one kid took a direct hit to the face and the other grew tired of the constant bombardment, the twins moved inside to be comforted by grandparents and others. But the dodgeball games went on. Besides, there were folks young and old to be entertained, and enough doting folks inside to shower the birthday girls with attention. We played on.
The oldest of the group was Phil at 40. But Phil technically shouldn’t be considered the oldest, since being the thinnest and a frequent marathon runner he was in the best shape of all the players. Pat, 27, wasn’t shy about pummeling my neighbor Sam, who is 8. Sam was on my team and served courageously as our patsy, which is the teammate who sacrifices himself at the beginning of the game to retrieve as many balls from the middle of the playing field as possible while being pelted at close range. Sam was brave and brazen, and always sitting out after the first three seconds of action.
Luke, 9, Tim, 36, Cece, 7, Alison, 7, Eileen, 6, Sam and I took on Phil, Pat, Adam, 29, and Nolan, 4. There wasn’t a lull in the action for the next three hours of play, unless you call Nolan’s poetic footwork to avoid being hit a lull. We threw at that little fella a million times and yet he managed to escape untouched.
Luke was our anchor. He was always the lone holdout on our team, dodging onslaught after onslaught on his own while we waited in the wings to jump back in on a catch.
I ate dirt at one point, taking a double hit from Adam and Pat. As I was joining the others on the sideline, a wayward throw caught me in the temple. It was great. The more I laughed, the more the big red mark on my head brightened. Balls were bounding every which way, kids were laughing breathlessly, adults were having the time of their lives.
That night while I was licking my wounds, my wife went reminiscing about the joyous day. She spoke about the smiles on the faces of the girls when they opened up their presents, when they shoved chocolate cake into their mouths, when their eyes bulged forward when everyone sang happy birthday, when ?. I can’t remember what else she spoke about. I was busy planning out next year’s dodgeball teams. The twins could be a much-needed addition to our team.