There’s a point in the soccer off-season meant for reckoning.
By reckoning, I mean counting wounds. Bruises. Bumps. Scratches. Cleat marks. Before the signs of battle heal, my girls take inventory. I’ve heard counts on the order of 90. This winter break is perfect for restoration for these soccer-only girls.
They’ve had mystery bruises and swollen knuckles. Other injuries don’t show up on reckoning day. But you can count them by neck braces, knee braces, and ankle braces. And stories.
There will always be stories.
Marie had a full-speed collision with a boy eight years ago. The ball squirted right, and both players bounced on their butts after their heads clunked like coconuts. The boy crumbled and cried. Marie? She won the ball.
It wasn’t until after the game that I took inventory.
“Marie!” I shouted. “You’ve got a shiner!”
She hated that I told that story over and over. But when Grace took a smack to the face during a game years later, she wanted to be like big sis, too.
1. Do I have a black eye or a shiner?
Either way, it’s blunt trauma to the face, which sounds like something they’d say on Bones or CSI Miami.
They’re one in the same. Black eye sounds like you might have fallen and plunked your head on a trash can. Shiner implies a fracas. This is my definition and has no bearing in any degree of research whatsoever.
A shiner looks shiny. That’s why it’s called a shiner. Urban Dictionary, in its growing role in defining words, says it’s of Irish origin. It refers to punishment British officers doled out with their boot to soldiers who failed to keep machinery shiny.
That carries less street cred than would a fracas. That’s my definition, of course.
2. Doesn’t a lady also sing You Lift Me Up?
Who doesn’t sing You Lift Me Up? Josh Groban’s version is perhaps most popular. I skipped right past stories of blind children and Celine Dionne singing this on YouTube. Why? I saw two words from my teen years that stopped my heart in its tracks: Celtic Woman.
I saw them sing and play violin (or fiddle?) on PBS once when I was young. I was looking for a ballgame or Go-Go’s video or cable movie starring Sharon Stone.
But there they were, in gaudy dresses and headphone microphones before hip hop artists and Madonna wore them. In a smoky room with changing colors and a well-behaved audience, they wowed me in all my awkward teenage glory.
I credit Chloe Agnew, Lisa Kelly and Hayley Westerna for planting in me a seed of crushy-ness. It nudged toward PBS and NPR for crushes and away from Lita Ford and Vixen.
What was the question again?
3. What was your first car like?
I learned to drive a 1970 Ford pickup that smelled like a hardware store. I took my driver’s license test in a 1983 Eagle Wagon. But my first car … the first one that was mine, all mine, was a 1962 Buick Skylark. My former brother-in-law called it my Ghetto Cruiser. But baby, that car was sweet.
So many stories.
Like, the time my dad’s friend John, a talented mechanic who’d lost his left hand in Vietnam, helped us fix the engine. When we came in for lunch, mom asked how it went. “John fixed it – single handed!” I said, knowing exactly what I was saying.
John dropped his head, and his belly laugh let me know we were cool.
My dad and I toiled beneath the hood of that girl many times. We’d mix up spark-plug wires, and resorted to how-to manuals on the engine to find the right sequence. At her worst, Maddie felt like an old woman’s ride.
At her best, she sparkled and roared. She was a sexy cougar. She wore low-profile tires, sweet rims, and a dual exhaust with glass pack mufflers.
Someone stole Maddie from an auto shop freshman year in college. The insurance company cut dad a check for $2,000. We’re convinced it was an inside job.
Dad dreamed the cops would find Maddie, restored, and we’d get her back.
What was my first car like? A dream. She was an absolute dream.
4. Do you have to have a goalkeeper and defenders?
I read 144 pages of the FIFA rules of the game. And I’m not 100% sure of the answer to this!
I know you can receive a red card for spitting at someone. Or jumping at someone. I know all the contingencies if a ball gets popped during play. (You’ll have to ask about that one).
Nowhere in those pages could I find a rule that you must have a keeper or defenders. Against some teams we play, it’s tough to tell who’s on defense, anyway. If I’m honest, I’ve lost my own defensive line in a match, too. Sometimes, things fall out of shape.
Like in life, there are no timeouts in soccer to fix things.
One time, down 2-0 in a tournament final, I sent up defenders, one by one, to attack. Late in the game, I even sent up the keeper. We needed points. Losing 3-0 because our goal was open wouldn’t hurt less than 2-0 while we defended it.
Parents started to scream that it HAD to be illegal!
Nope. Here, read these 144 pages …
5. Is the movie “Cool Runnings” a true story?
It’s based on a true story, which is like saying Froot Loops is part of a nutritious breakfast. What did you expect when Disney pollutes a story?
The movie depicts the origins of Jamaica’s unlikely bobsled team. The team members are fictional. The real cool runners weren’t sprinters, but army recruits. And rather than get the cold shoulder from their Nordic counterparts, the Olympic village treated the team like rock stars.
That scene at the end, of the Jamaican team crashing? Well, they did crash. But they didn’t carry the sled across the finish line. They just pushed it there, and lifted it after they crossed. That makes a lousy end-of-movie Disney moment, though.
Even Disney distortion, it’s a meaningful story. We love stories, don’t we? We want the folly, the impossible dream, just enough hope to move us forward. We want some adversity, some animosity. We want the resistance to power through.
And that moment in the end. We want that too.
And if you feel like strapping on the shin guards and boots and making a story too, bruises and all, well, I’m OK with that, too.