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Honey/Sweetheart

13 Nov
All American Girls Professional Baseball League: Rockford Peach for Halloween

All American Girls Professional Baseball League: Rockford Peach for Halloween

Last Wednesday was the final game of the 2014 softball league I play in. The MTA conspired against me and both the trains I took to the field were running late. I showed up to the field as the first inning was starting, running to our dugout in time for my teammates to tell me that I was next up to bat. I try to stretch my arms a bit before stepping up to the plate.

I knew the team we were playing was undefeated, and since I was late I wanted a good look at what the pitcher was throwing. So I let the first ball fly past me.

“Strike 1!”

It was. But now I knew what I was looking for, that same smooth pitch over the plate. But the next ball she threw was a bit outside, and I don’t like to reach. However…

“Strike 2!”

Hmmm, didn’t agree with that, but whatever. Deep breaths, Wilson. Wait for yours.

“That bat is made for swinging, honey.” I hear from a gruff voice behind me. I turn around in horror, expecting this snide remark to have come from the opposing team. Instead I saw the elderly umpire snarling at me in a creepy smile. Furious, I try to lock back into the pitcher. She throws a ball, which again, looks a bit outside. Yet…

“Strike 3!” I was out.

I walk to the dugout and ask if I can play at second as I’m a bit ticked at the umpire and don’t want to play catcher and be in his proximity. The following inning, I did play catcher though, firmly resolved to not speak to this umpire. After two outs, one of the team’s best players comes up to bat. One strike. Two strike. Third pitch… he hits it foul. I extend my arm to my left and dive into the dirt, using my other hand to lock the ball in my mitt.

“OUT!” I hear the roar of my teammates cheering for me, and I smugly think to myself, “How’s that, honey?” But I say nothing and jump around in excitement with my teammates telling me how proud they are.

A couple of innings later, I’m back up to bat. I’m one and one at this point. After my questionable strikeout, I hit a good single. You see, I’ve been doing a lot of kickboxing lately. My body is stronger. My upper body, my core, my legs. I can feel the strength growing in them, and it feels amazing. My hitting has improved so much. I’m making good contact, and I finally finally have a wee bit of power behind my hits.

So there I am. First pitch is a little high, but I swing and miss.

“Sweetheart,” I hear behind me. “You need to step with your front foot. Step with your front foot, okay?”

I don’t turn around. I just face the pitcher and silently scream in my head. I don’t need this stranger to tell me how to bat. I don’t want him to tell me how to bat. All in all, I’m doing just fine on my own. I’ve gratefully accepted advice from friends, boyfriends, flings, first dates in the past, but all solicited, all with me starting the conversation of how I can improve my batting. This man doesn’t know me.

Finally my pitch comes. I hit it hard. I make it to first, and in a perfect yet imaginary world I hit it like Ken Griffey Jr., running to first base with bravado, looking over my shoulder to say “Don’t ever call me sweetheart again.” But in the real world, I keep my chin up and run as hard as I can focusing on making it in plenty of time.

Later at the bar, my teammates congratulate me on a good game. I tell them about the comments from the umpire, and they likewise respond with disgust. But they also claim that maybe a bit of that rage was good for me, they joke about calling me honey/sweetheart before every at bat. I laugh.

But I’d prefer they not. Unless you’re someone I’m romantically involved with or you’re my mother or a good friend comforting me in a difficult time or someone who has earned that familiarity with me in some way or another, please don’t.

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