Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Invading the Herd and a Rite of Passage

I was a pseudo soccer mom this past weekend. I went with my significant other, dressed in a tight Janis Joplin t-shirt, still feeling slightly out-of-place, but getting more comfortable with the environment. I found that pre-teen boys’ soccer can be quite entertaining. Not unlike the Cubs games I’d go to at Wrigley and really enjoy, even though I’m not a baseball fan at all (I went for the beer and the ambience, of course). It’s the sociological aspect of soccer that seems to fascinate me a bit. I’m not embarrassed to admit that. From a technical standpoint, the games themselves are a definite notch above watching tiny kids that just jump on the ball with no skill (my S.O. calls that clusterf*ck ball). Eleven and twelve-year old boys actually know how to play the game and exhibit skills and proof of training, so that’s a bonus from a spectator standpoint. I do like watching sports in general. But, it’s really the parental units and the animalistic nature of the game that make it a true spectator sport.

I’ve received much underlying teasing from family and friends about my newfound, inherited hobby as a result of being involved with a man that has a pre-teen and a teen who both play the sport. My sister keeps talking about slapping one of those half soccer balls on my back car window without my knowledge. You know - those dorky ones that look like they’re stuck halfway through. She threatens, laughs hysterically, and I consequently shoot her the bird.

The teasing I get is due to the knowledge my family and friends have about me. They know I’d rather stab myself in the eyeballs with a rusty knife than drive a minivan and assimilate with suburban drones that are known as the dreaded soccer moms. I cringe at the thought of rubber shoes and Bermuda shorts. I’m not above them, by all means. Just different. I don't know, though...maybe I’m the one missing the boat. Maybe the big world outside the fields is just distraction in the form of scenery. Maybe a minivan would make me less cynical and analytical and more pleasant. Maybe soccer and the life that is wrapped up in it is a life more extraordinary. Maybe breeding soccer kids is the answer to the world's problems. Hey, you never know. They may be on to something...

I’ve been part of groups all my life, so I really can’t say that I’ve been a rebel against them without backing it up with substantial data, and the only data I have is how I felt. I’ve done the circuit of clubs throughout my life, mainly because I’m social and have way too many interests. I was a princess among the piano dorks, the head cheerleader, and felt the pride associated with National Honor Society. Albeit a false pride, but it was like any other petty milestone in life. I was in a sorority back in my undergrad days. These were rites of passage. Maybe that’s how these moms feel; like having the soccer sticker on the back of their car is a rite of passage. A badge to be worn with pride. “I popped a kid out; look at my sticker.” Kind of like the pregnant parking places at Kroger. You’re special because you got knocked up. Huh. I have often pondered parking in those spots to see if I’d get ticketed if I did it. I mean, how in the hell would they know if I was a month pregnant or not?

I like to think that on that soccer field, I’m a bright red crayon in a box of Eddie Bauer-brand khaki crayons, but I'm not. I'm just the soccer Dad's girlfriend, really. Tight Janis Joplin shirt, platform flip flops and all.

Just like any other stereotype, though, reality exists. There are exceptions to the soccer mom rule, and I must give props where props are due. It was approximately my fifth game I’ve attended since being a soccer Dad’s girlfriend. Keep in mind that five has historically been my lucky number. This was no exception last Sunday when one of the mothers actually engaged me in conversation. I think I may have yapped at her first, come to think of it, but we chatted nonetheless. This was a step forward in evolution, as one species approached another, and much to my dismay, she was somewhat normal and had an actual sense of humor – something that can be difficult to pinpoint amongst the screaming stage moms who are on the brink of blowing a carotid artery when their son’s footwork is not up to par. She didn't bite or claw at me. She just sniffed me for a bit. I figure I've always had the ability to communicate with a wall or a CEO (no redundancy intended there), so why not the soccer mom?

So here I stand. A gazelle who’s making her way into the herd of sheep. I didn’t try to break in, and I don’t suppose I’ll ever be truly accepted as one of the herd. I’m so OK with that. It’s just fun being the new species in the gene pool, and it's going to make for some interesting future entries.