The other night I walked onto the turf of the indoor playfield and I didn't know what to say to anyone because I didn't know anyone there. But I didn't need to say anything. Someone just threw me a football. Before I tell you where I was and why, I just thought I'd point out how much easier it would be for me to walk into social situations if someone threw me a ball instead of telling me hi and asking what I do for a living. Last night was my first time at this indoor sports place called Playmakers and I've joined their Monday Game Night, where men and women get together and play whatever game they vote on for the evening. What I like best about these people so far is that no one asked how old I am, my marital status, or my profession. They just wanted to know my name and if I could catch a ball. I proved successful on both counts so I was in! I didn't even have to know the rules of the games we played!
"None of us know all the rules," one guy said after I told him that I didn't know how to play flag football. "We improvise."
And we did. There was one guy on my team who seemed to know what he was doing so we let him tell us where to stand and where to run. Ok, not everyone did. Me, another girl and this other guy who looked completely lost. The guy, who I'll call Johnny, said, "Gen! Run that way."
He pointed to a general direction down the field.
"Ok," I said, quickly because the play was about to start. "And why am I doing that?"
"So you can-"
AND THEY HIKED THE BALL AND I WAS OFF LIKE A SHOT IN THAT GENERAL DIRECTION! WHY? I DIDN'T KNOW! BUT DAMN I WAS FAST! AND THEN THE PLAY WAS OVER AND I WAS WAAAAAY DOWN THE FIELD AWAY FROM ALL OF THE OTHER PEOPLE! Like Forrest Gump only without the ball.
I'm sure there was some reason why he told me to run down there. He gave me other instructions that made sense. Like when he told me to rush the quarterback.
"Ok, Gen," Johnny said, all serious. "I want you to just run over there and grab her flag before she passes the ball."
"Um, well, ok. But that seems mean."
He smiled at me. "You don't have to."
I scowled. "No. I'll do it. That flag is toast."
AAAAAAAAND THE BALL WAS SNAPPED AND I RUSHED AT THE QUARTERBACK! I WAS SO FAST SHE DIDN'T EVEN NOTICE ME CHARGING HER! SHE TUCKED THE BALL BY HER HEAD READY TO FIRE, AND I BENT DOWN AND GRASPED THE YELLOW FLAG AT HER WAIST AAAAAAAAAAND didn't pull it off in time, she passed the ball one second before I took the flag. And so I don't go pro just yet.
After a half hour of that we switched to soccer. And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why I'm happy that I've started jogging again because if I hadn't had regular cardio lately I never would have survived the next 45 minutes. When we first started playing my goal was to remember all of the rules from when I played before and play well. If possible, impress people. After fifteen minutes of near-constant running up and down the field, my goal switched from playing well to not throwing up. And after ten more minutes I was just trying not to pass out. Throwing up, though unattractive, was atleast something I could recover from within a few minutes. Maybe someone would even bring me water and let me watch the end of the game. But passing out completely doesn't leave me with many options. I would have been out cold and at the mercy of strangers, both of which was unappealing.
I guess I could have stopped playing, that would have been the safest alternative. But I was having too much fun. I can't really explain to you why it is that I've never grown out of the joy of running around and giggling. But I get the greatest rush of running to the point of exhaustion, hopping over obstacles, chasing someone with a ball, falling face down on turf and popping right back up. And that's the whole reason I decided to join their team. I wanted to play.
And I was delighted when at the end of the night a couple of the guys asked me if I was interested in joining other teams.
"There's a flagfootball league in City Park," Johnny said. "You should play with us."
"And we play ultimate frisbee on Saturday," another guy said.
"Uhhhh...that sounds like fun," I said and I thought, "None of you have children, do you?"
I don't know how old any of these people are, or if they have families. The women look to be in about their twenties and so do most the men but honestly I can't tell how old people are anymore. I'm pretty certain that this one guy who, by the way, looks JUST like a short version of Robert Pattison, is about 20 years old - tops. But that could be because he looks like Robert Pattison. He's even pale and scowls like Edward from Twilight. But other than him, the rest of them could be 25 or they could be 36. I really can't tell.
But I know that they can throw a ball, and that's all I really need to know.
So with all this talk of flagfootball, dear readers, my question for you, for you is this - Do you have a flag?