Monday, May 17, 2010

Wanna Play?

Put down that video game
and join me outside!
It's National Backyard Games Week!

Of course, at my place today
you may have to don a raincoat
and utilize the umbrella,
but it just makes the competition
more enticing, don't you think?

I grew up on backyard games.
Freeze tag, shadow tag,
Mrs. Goobie-Gob,
Red Rover,
Red light- green light,
jump rope
and Lemonade.

That's back a few years ago
when somebody's yard
was unceremoniously picked
to be "the yard of the day"-
where every kid in the neighborhood
under the age of fifteen
gathered to be a part of the activities.

Large groups always made for better teams.
Then you weren't stuck playing wiffle ball
with some loser who couldn't swing a plastic bat-
or left alone in the dark being the only "seeker"
looking for the "hider".

My parents never seemed to mind much
when the kids started grouping together
out in our big yard.

There were rules though.

1. Kids knew not to ask to use the bathroom.
2. There would be no treats or soft drinks.
3. If you were an adolescent boy on the crest of puberty-
go home.
4. No naked wash board abs in our front yard!
My dad had a problem with guys who didn't wear shirts.
(He would actually run them off).
5. Play fair, don't be a baby, and bring your own band-aids.

We had some great games of softball,
Shadow tag, and Swing the Statue.
And once in awhile,
(unbeknown to my parents),
a secret round or two of
spin the bottle.

I think that game was rigged.

I never got kissed.

The bottle always seemed to point
at the girl with the biggest boobs.
Needless to say,
I lost interest and refused to play
that boring little game.

I remember clearly participating
in a heated game of Red Rover.
When it was my turn to run,
I took off fast-
trying to look behind me
to see if I was being pursued.
That's when I ran smack-dab into a tree.

I fell to the ground with a scraped neck
and whispered, "Go... get... Mom."
Of course, my team mates all stared -
and my mom took me in the house
and applied the soap and water
and Mercurochrome.
I watched the events from the
picture window the rest of the day.

Sometimes we just spent the lazy summer days
swinging on our prehistoric swing set-
it's creaky chains and rusty slide
echoing music across the neighborhood.

It's a wonder none of us suffered broken bones
or serious injuries.
We played hard.
But we had fun.
Backyard games were our way of learning
competition, fairness, friendship,
loyalty, instruction, rules,
and cooperation.

Yet, it also taught us
revenge, spite, jealousy,
strength, endurance,
and retribution.

It also taught me
that the girls with the biggest boobs
weren't necessarily the best players.

And that's a fact of life-
even in middle age!

So, no matter what you play today,
remember to play your best.
Follow the rules,
go for the gusto,
...oh-and look out for trees!