There is a pizza place by my house that we are required to frequent during sports seasons, which in California is year round. Pizza after every game. Yipee. Pizza after practice, too? This must be my lucky day. The one positive I can find in all this is that beer is served by the pitcher. Which I get with a straw.
I think these coaches are trying to torture us on purpose. And by coaches I mean my husband. Somehow he is always the coach. Baseball, basketball, football… I think we have a 5 day window in July where seasons don’t overlap. Certainly there must be a 5 day long season for SOME sport that involves a ball? How can we have overlooked that lone week? What will I do with all this down time?
Inevitably, at the conclusion of most every game, the coach/my husband/Satan will announce, “Pizza party!” much to the dismay of the moms in the bleachers. In fact we’ve gotten to a point where shortly before every game ends I start to hear a low rumbling in the bleachers. That rumbling is the sound of every mom on the team softly chanting, “Please don’t say pizza party. PLEASE don’t say pizza party!”. Followed by a low collective groan of “nooooooo” when he (of course) makes his announcement.
It’s not just the frequency of the pizza that I object to; it’s the atmosphere of the after-sports pizza joint. There are usually no less than 3 other teams at the same pizza joint, with children in uniforms of all sizes and colors running amok. In the rear of the restaurant is the requisite arcade, full of a multitude of video games, all competing with each other to be the noisiest. As a mom, you’d better come as prepared with a wad of one dollar bills as if your shift had just ended at the “Gentlemen’s Club” located in the back of the nearby industrial center.
One wall of the arcade is filled with games where, for the low low price of one dollar, you can maneuver a mechanical claw and possibly win a plastic bracelet valued at 50 cents, or a sticker with the image of a sponge wearing pants encapsulated in a plastic egg. If you’re really lucky you can snag a cough-syrup flavored hard candy that’s been in the machine since the Reagan administration.
The most popular machine of them all is the one that dispenses rubber bouncy balls, no skill required. All you have to do is drop in a coin and you will be instantly rewarded with a bouncy ball from a vast collection of bouncy balls in various colors. This game is very popular with the younger set. Who wouldn’t want to play a game that required no skill and gave you a toy every time? My youngest son can’t stay away. By the time my pitcher is empty I am usually in possession of enough bouncy balls to fill my pockets, a soda cup, and my purse. And the pitcher. In fact, I usually drink faster so that I can use the pitcher for bouncy ball storage.
After one particularly successful pizza party my youngest had amassed a collection of a dozen or so bouncy balls, which I carelessly tossed into my purse. Having arrived home late and tired, I neglected to deposit them into our bouncy ball receptacle/trash can. The following morning I dropped the kids at school bright and early, then headed over to Target to get a start on my day’s errands. The employees at Target had obviously worked diligently through the night to make sure that their floors were not only cleaned, but also waxed. I became aware of their fabulous work ethic when my high-heeled boot suddenly slid out from underneath me, tipping me dangerously backward. Arms flailing in an effort to avoid an unplanned head trauma, I attempted to correct my fall by flinging my upper body forward. I knew that this was a mistake when I landed face-first on the floor of the main aisle, legs spread eagle behind me, and my purse flung to the front.
It was at this point I realized that I had neglected to zip my purse. To my horror, in addition to the usual collection of lipsticks, wallet, keys and fuzzy dinner mints, more than a dozen bouncy balls sprung forth from the recesses of my purse, ricocheting off in all directions. I picked my face up from the cold tile floor (after taking a moment to adjust my hair in the reflective flooring) and in my humiliation began frantically crawling on my hands and knees in a futile attempt to corral the errant bouncy balls. I had managed to capture 4 or 5 before I realized I was fighting a losing battle. A few had bounced under clothing racks, one was under a chewing gum display… I paused in defeat and glanced up to see several other shoppers stepping around my belongings on their way to get their errands done. A few were staring at me, mouths agape. Another giggled. Several pretended not to notice I was there, strewn across the main aisle. But most importantly, not one of them offered any sort of assistance. Mortified, I quickly scooped up the remainder of my belongings and limped from the store, nursing my pride and forgetting why I was even there.
My children are no longer allowed to play the bouncy ball game. (But I still drink beer by the pitcher – just in case)