Lacrosse is a giant game of keep away with big sticks and little butterfly nets and a tiny frustrating ball.
That’s what it is, pippa.
Boys in long shorts and long jerseys and helmets and footwear run around a field and, get this, BEHIND the goal if they want, wielding, uh — sticks? batons? 2 x 4s? — with little nets on the end. They catch an alleged ball in these little nets, although I can’t claim to have actually seen this alleged ball from my personal vantage point with my personal myopic eyes.
So let’s change my definition:
Lacrosse is a giant game of keep away with big sticks and little butterfly nets and a tiny frustrating ball played by people who can actually see the tiny frustrating ball.
That’s all I know.
But, thank God, my dad was there to explain things to me. He doesn’t know what lacrosse is either, but he’s a dad. He explains things. That’s his job. Even now, with his full-grown daughter, he does his duty. And without fail, whether or not he actually knows things, he does his duty and explains them. He’s a dad.
“See, Tray, the guys on offense have the longer sticks.”
He placed the merest emphasis on the word longer. Knowing my dad, it was purely innocent. But I started to laugh because I’m an immature cow.
Dad kept to his duty.
“And the defenders have shorter sticks.”
Again, the slightest emphasis. I frowned.
“Ohhh. Hm. Bummer, Dad.”
His eyes widened at me in shock. Uh-oh. I was pretty sure I was seconds away from being sent to the car for the rest of the game. Then, phew, I remembered I’m a big ol’ grownup with my very own car. Still, the threat looms eternal, doesn’t it?
A split second later, though, Dad was giggling and saying “Tracey!” in a mock scolding voice.
Dad was eating a hamburger when we got there. No. Not merely eating. For 5 bucks, he got a hamburger, some chips, and a soda, and he was chowing down like a starving man at a dumpster. I tell you true: When he’s not at home, that man eats utter trash. Only if Mom can’t see, though. That’s his rebellion. Man doesn’t smoke, doesn’t drink, doesn’t swear, doesn’t hang at the tittywiggles. He simply eats trash whenever he’s away from home. One night a few years back, MB went to my parents’ house to talk to Dad about something and had to wait for Dad, who was on a last-minute errand. When Dad pulled up in the driveway and got out of the car, the wrappers from two Haagen Dazs bars dangled from the door opening then drifted slowly to the ground. He had a smudge of chocolate in the corner of his mouth. He’d only run this quick errand — away from mom, you see — but had made sure that part of the errand involved stuffing two Haagen Dazs bars into his mouth during the mere moments he was out of the house. Why oh why do you take these insane risks, Dad?? And caught red-handed with wrappers and chocolate?? Tsk, tsk, tsk.
MB motioned to his mouth.
“Dad, you’ve got a little chocolate there.”
He didn’t want Dad to be busted. Nope. He stood by him, stalwart in male solidarity.
“Oh! Oh! Thanks!” Dad said, wiping his mouth and stuffing the telltale wrappers into his jogging suit pockets.
You see, venue and furtiveness are the keys to my dad’s junk eating. He sticks to one unspoken principle about these indulgences: location, location, location. A car, a camping trip, a lacrosse game. It is always away from home, and because he was away from home last night, he was allowed to commence his gleeful junk eating. He doesn’t hide it from his kids, just Mom, and we’re all willing enablers in this because he’s skinny and that’s irksome. Drat him, anyway. Eat another burger, Dad.
So, yeah, MB and I caught Dad redhanded last night with his half-eaten greasy ballpark burger.
“Wow, Dad. That’s quite a burger,” I said.
“Yep!” He just smiled and munched away, no guilt, happy as a little boy.
Location, location, location.
We found some seats. The game started. Dad further explained things he knew nothing of in his role as dad and I questioned his knowledge of things I knew nothing of in my role as kid. And in this way, we communicated. About what, I don’t know, but that’s not the point.
Turns out, Elder Nephew was some kind of a defender, tall and menacing, whacking dudes with his stick because they were whacking him with their sticks first. That’s how it seemed me anyway, as his loving aunt. I mean, what’s a kid to do? Beat or be beaten. And that’s the game. An organized gang beating with sticks interrupted by the occasional flinging of a tiny frustrating ball at someone’s head.
During half-time, Elder Nephew sauntered over to the giant Gatorade cooler, all casual and no biggie about the gang beatings, and took a giant swig. He was facing us, but we were way up in the giant concrete slab of the bleachers. We began to wave at him like loons. On purpose. Wave, wave, peace sign, we’re cool, wave, wave, wave. And that kid would just not give it up. Pretended not to see us. Would NOT acknowledge us. Well, really, we knew he wouldn’t because, duh, it was hideous what we were doing, very uncool, but did we stop? No. We just became more and more entranced with our hideousness.
At one point, during the lunatic waving, MB said, “I think we should all start yelling at him: ‘NEPHHHHHEW! IT’S UNCLE BELOVED!! AND TEE TEEEEEEE!!! AND POP-POPPPPPPPPPPP!!!'”
With each name, each increasingly ridiculous name, MB’s voice got higher. And higher. My dad fell apart at the insane whine MB achieved on “POP-POPPPPPPPPPPPPP!!!” The three of us were howling. Crying. Dad shrieked, “Do it. Do it! Yell at him! Do it!!” He was shaking, laughing, fortified from his dinner of grease and high fructose corn syrup. The man was clearly high.
But we didn’t do that to Elder Nephew. We couldn’t. We wanted to, oh so desperately. But we do love the kid and we want him to still love us. Or maybe, you know, start to love us at some point in the future, fingers crossed. So we just kept it to ourselves, there in the concrete of the bleachers, Dad and I repeatedly begging MB, “Do it again! Do it again!! DO IT AGAINNN!!”
You know, just three manic children, watching a bunch of boys beat each other with sticks.
Oh, Elder Nephew’s team won 7 stick beatings to a measly 5.
And that’s what lacrosse is.