If you had asked me when I was seven years old what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, I would have said, “Play kickball. Everyday.”
Quick story about playing kickball (a memoir):
Ten years ago, I took my dog, Elroy, for a walk in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood.
A gaggle of millennial hipster kids were playing kickball.
I let him off his leash in the park. Click.
Elroy busted into a run towards their game. I yelled for him. He ran faster.
As a heavily tattooed woman unfurled her arm to pitch the ball, Elroy intersected.With all four paws. Pounced on top of the red kick ball. Opened his mouth. Bit down hard.
Before anyone could stop him, he attacked the ball like it was something he needed to kill.
He panted. Laid down to chew on the deflated ball. Avoided eye contact with humans.
Half of the players started cracking up laughing, while the other half looked angry.
There was no other ball.
I caught Elroy, clicked his leash. Apologized. Said I’m so sorry thirty times.
I didn’t have my wallet or a phone, I explained. We were a few miles from my house. I offered to come back with money for a new ball in an hour.
No, said one of the team captains, that’s fine.
No worries, he lied. Fake smile.
Eventually Elroy and I walked away. Wished them well.
A guy in the outfield said, “Dude! Now what?”
Geez, I felt bad. Walked away faster.
Fast forward a decade, Elroy is over 11. With five fewer teeth, a lot more gray hair, weakening eye sight, substantial hearing loss and less muscle mass. Still. Something deep within tells him to kill the red ball.
The dog park is not fenced. I didn’t see the kick ball game happening. Again, hipsters.
I let him off the leash. Click.
He took a 90 degree turn. Bolted straight for the kickball. The pitch rolled towards the kicker.
Some lady yelled “Hey! Little dog!” Raised her hand like she had a treat. Brilliant.
Treat! Elroy made eye contact. With Me. With Her. With me. Ran back. Click.
The woman who distracted him laughed so hard as I shared Elroy’s history of youthful bad behavior with kickballs in city parks. Criminal record.
“Maybe he has something against hipsters. Or kickballs. Hilarious either way–I love this little dog.”