I tried to play volleyball, once. Nearly, got my nose broken (by the Bear) and almost got in a different fight.
She found a pick-up volleyball game in Mesa. She had played in college (Florida International University). She’s such a volleyball veteran, her pinky fingers stick out in unnatural directions. That’s the sign of a dedicated blocker — when they keep breaking and twisting your pinkies and you wave what’s left of your hands in front of the hitter anyway.
I thought I could hang with these rec league refugees.
We show up, and I’m bumping around and keeping the ball in play. But I suck at everything else.
We end up on different teams. She’s one of the first picks. It’s co-rec and having good women on the team means you will have a good team. I’m the last person picked — for good reason.
I’m always in the wrong place. I’m knocking my teammates around and going for balls that aren’t mine and running over people to try and block shots.
The Bear is talking shit and laughing, and all the guys on her team are following her around like puppies. I was getting used to that. She had that effect everywhere she went. But they were mostly trying to make her play back row — she can do that – but she’s a hitter.
She had a 36-inch vertical in college and hit down inside the 10-foot line. She was the top hitter on FIU, and she’s not letting these rec assholes keep her off the net.
About an hour in, she finally gets a set, winds up and smacks me straight in the nose. Didn’t draw blood, but I had broken it playing basketball earlier that year, and I’m pretty sure she put a new crack in that little thin bone.
“That’s a six-pack,” she said. “If you break someone’s nose, you have to buy everyone on your team a six-pack.”
Jesus, who knew volleyball “celebrated” violence. The NFL suspened players and coaches for small cash payments for hurting the other team (remember the Saints?). Apparently that’s just what women “do” in fucking volleyball.
There was an extra player, so of course, I was the one to sit out.
There’s a dude on the Bear’s team, who’s following her more than the others. He’s talking to her every point. I can’t hear what he is saying, but he and the Bear are smiling. She’s always way too nice to people — kids, puppies, old ladies and especially strange men. Those dudes all think they are something special. But she’s that way with everybody.
Dude’s girlfriend was there and getting pissed. Dude took a break, drove girlfriend home and returned just to hang around the Bear.
Switching matches, and I’m back in. Flirty boy is making fun of me. Calls me for an illegal set. Complains that they should have a rule that doesn’t let people who don’t know how to play get in “this game”.
He’s a little taller than I am. Obviously played a lot of volleyball, but it doesn’t look like he has ever lifted a weight in his life. My forearms were bigger than any muscle in his entire body. I’ve got 50 pounds on him, and I’m pretty sure I could snap his collarbone like a chicken.
My memory is pretty fuzzy, but I think he said something like: “Why don’t you learn how to play and then you can come back.”
And I said.
“Why don’t you shut your fucking mouth…”
Of course he didn’t. He kept running his mouth, and I’m sure he expected his “crowd” to take his side…
At one point, I started walking toward the net — every cell in my body wanted to pick him up and slam him into the far wall.
But he never figured on the Bear. I’m not sure how she did it, but before I could cross the net, she turned “his crowd” against him. They started berating and scolding flirty boy. I didn’t feel the need to physically punish him when everyone else was busy crushing his ego.
He eventually did shut up.
Games ended, and we get in the car to go home.
“He kept asking me to go out for drinks after,” the Bear said. Shit I wish I had thrown him against the wall when I had the chance…
“And what did you say back?”
“I told him to go home to his girlfriend and stop being an asshole,” she said.
That’s pretty good advice for any man, and for 35 years I’ve been coming home to her and trying not be an asshole.
At least I got the first part right.