Way Beyond Thunderdome

My heart was pounding, priming my body for the action it was about to encounter. The straggling defender from our team made his way to the sidelines where I burst onto the court like a precariously aimed bottle rocket to substitute in for him. Five minutes had gone by in the second half and my team trailed 4 to 0. This was not an unusual scene by any means, but it was so strange to not have played for the entire game up to this point. I was planning on playing goalie for the second half, but the first half goalie was determined not to relinquish his position, and so I subbed in at defense. It took about 15 seconds, but I managed to chase the ball down to the opposite end of the court to the far right of goal. With a move that I learned from Cristiano Ronaldo, or at least from his digital representation on the Xbox, I swiped the ball with my counter foot, in step, and bent it just over the goalie’s arm and into the area cordoned off by blue painter’s tape known as the goal. I held my hands out to stop my full-speed motion sprint into the wall, heard the whistle blow signifying a goal, and trotted back rather non-chalantly to my defensive position with the roar of applause and accolades ringing in my ear.

15 seconds later, I heard the ref’s whistle blow again, only this time it followed a much different move that I learned from Zinedine Zidane which involved an opponent sprawled out on the ground in front of me and my offering a hand in a feigning attempt at good-sportsmanship. It wasn’t the first time I had resorted to violence in the heat of the game. I once threw a shoulder into a dude charging into my goalie box and once, as a striker, my elevating knee happened to meet the opposing goalie’s descending face in a collision that left him claiming to see stars and me with a bit of tooth imbedded above my kneecap. But, as the referee could apparently see the fury stewing in my eyes, he felt that after this collision, it would be best to give me a card and have me sit out for two minutes. I marched off the court after what I considered a pretty badass 30 seconds of playing time and was greeted by the frightened stares and hesitantly extended hands of my teammates.

This was the indoor soccer league where my work pitted department against department in a multi-sport year-round competition. The prize: one week’s worth of casual dress and the honor of reigning supreme over IT nerds and Executives alike. It was on like Azerbaijan.

After my thirty seconds of rabid-badger-like ferocity on the court, I sat on the sidelines and yelled orders at my team. After clapping exuberantly as the Senior Writer blocked an attempt at goal by allowing the ball to smack her directly, and I can only imagine painfully, in her breasts, I began to notice some pressure from my left index finger. I started to massage my knuckle assuming that I jammed my finger either in my screaming full-on sprint into the wall, or my screaming collision with a higher-pitched screaming opponent. By game’s end (4-7 loss, 1-8 on the season) My finger had swelled up to the size of a Jimmy Dean sausage-flavored product. I put some ice on it and laughed it off along with others in my department. As I went towards my car, still donning my full soccer gear, the finger was completely immobilized. Before I went to bed, my finger started to look like an androgynous bluish-green Dr. Seuss character. I resolved to call the doctor in the morning.

I knew I was in trouble when everyone at the doctor’s office who caught sight of the ever-plumping digit let go an audible gasp. The family doctor entered into the room and with the smile that he sported at all times, whether dealing with goiters or gonorrhea, immediately sent me back to the X-ray room. The X-ray technician, who loved her job about as much as a kid searching for diamonds in a mud pit in Sierra Leone, manipulated my fingers across a sheet of black film. She developed the X-rays and with an accusatory, motherly glance, asked me just what I had done to myself. She waited for the doctor to come into the room and tell me, still with the smile on his face, that I had broken my finger.

The concept of this was more disturbing to me than any present physical pain. I had only broken one bone in my life prior to this. I was two years old and fell down a stair and landed wrongly on my arm. I cried for a minute, but then went on with my regular daily duties of meticulously lining up my Hot Wheels by color, model, and transmission type and remembering that my poo had to go in my training potty. It wasn’t until a few days, yes, a few days later that my parents happened to notice me running around in the back yard one evening. I climbed the ladder to the top of the slide on my playground, only I managed to use only my left arm. I positioned myself at the top of the slide and went down to the bottom with my right arm flapping in the breeze behind me like a fleshy windsock. My very perceptive parents took me to the doctor who pronounced, I am sure with a smile on his face, that I had broken my arm.

I spent the next two months using the cast on my arm as a bludgeoning weapon against my two sisters. Something told me, as the doctor wrapped an ace bandage from my mid-forearm to four inches in front of the tip of my now imperfect index finger, that this time around would not be quite as fun. I sit in front of a computer at work and type all day. Now I have to learn to type with only one hand. This blog entry alone has taken me thirteen hours to compose. I can not plant all of the late-spring flowers or mow the lawn or change a diaper, for that matter. I have to pick up my kids like they are an object in some Scottish Highland athletic event I am participating in. I am traveling to Disneyland next week and will have to cling on to the teacups with my teeth as my one good arm will be aiming my vomiting son’s mouth outside of the revolving flatware.

And, perhaps most tragic, I will have to resign my position as the emotional leader of the Creative Cremators indoor soccer team. Yeah we only have two games left and it would take someone like Cristiano Ronaldo to take my place in order for us to make it to the playoffs, but I still feel a sadness that I will be leaving my fellow copy writers and graphic designers to fend for themselves against the dreaded IT department. We had so much potential, but the mad fury of competition, drowning out any other concerns like fatigue, pain, or social normality, was just lacking in our team. Oh well. At least I’ll be there on the sideline extending one giant, ace-bandaged-wrapped, swollen finger at our opponents.


Dan said...

Knowing a little about soccer, mainly that you are not allowed to use your hands, I have to ask the question and I hope it doesn't sound insensitive. How does a broken finger limit your eligibility or ability to play?

Rachel said...

Your words are like cake and the picture is frosting. I feel satiated this morning. Thank you!

Kara Thacker said...

At least it's not hard plaster... They stink a lot worse in the long run. Good luck typing!

Joe said...

Does this mean Bag Stranded will only be half as good?

Now is a good time to check into some "talk and type" software. On behalf of all Bag Stranded fans we wish you a speedy recovery.

Here is your new tag line: Bag Stranded-Where it really was the "one armed man".