It’s been a while since our baseball-playing, scrotum-draining, “Taps”-bugling childhoods, but a truism endures: I am the least sports-savvy of my sisters. Yee and Quin went to Southern schools, and were in sororities (ΠΒΦ!). These facts, along with their general temperament, mean they learned to competently hold forth on popular athletics as a social necessity. (Yee was on the homecoming court with Chris Paul, and Quin has some tenuous connection to fellow Vanderbilt alum Jay Cutler. In contrast, I went to 2 games my entire Yale career, and once mistakenly cheered for the wrong team’s winning play.)
Contrariwise, I don’t share their conversational ease. When I try to follow a discussion about ball-requiring athletics, I sound like Cher Horowitz as she watched combat coverage on CNN with Josh, finally digging deep to make the clueless (ha) comment: “But I thought they declared peace in the Middle East.” (Yes, I’m going to quote “Clueless” every time.)
My mom covered this phenomenon in one of her tome-like Christmas roundup letters one year:
V ended up at Yale in a suite with four blonde Amazonian athletic women. V, in addition to being neither Amazonian nor blonde, is so athletically oblivious that she said of her varsity squash-playing suitemate: ‘She enjoys it, but she’s afraid she’s the worst one on the field.’
To continue telling tales out of school, literally, here’s my mom’s account of my ill-advised stint as Sports editor of the school newspaper (story for another blog):
Putting aside the ‘squash field’ solecism of freshman year, this was the kid who explained her team loyalty at The Game thusly: ‘My way of watching was not to look at the field, but at the scoreboard, and will the clock to go faster while we were still ahead.’ The apogee of her Sports editor tenure was when she let pass a field hockey picture captioned, ‘Two seniors execute a fill in play’ because she figured ‘fill in’ was the name of the play, not an instruction to her from the layout staff.
At this point in the game (ha), I have two choices. One: I could bring myself up to speed on a steady diet of SportsCenter, assiduously absorbing all the players, rules and references that less athletically oblivious people use. Two: I could dig in my heels, and keep making purposeful malapropisms.
Neither choice feels natural. The former, especially, feels uncomfortable because it reminds me of when the contestants went to Australia on “America’s Next Top Model” and had to make a Cover Girl commercial using authentic Aussie slang. I still get a kick out of the way the hilariously endearing Russian mail-order bride contestant, Natasha, gamely proclaimed, “He thinks I’m the most beautiful Sheila he’s seen in the bush!” in a voice that was an unholy cross of the Foster’s Beer voiceover and Yakov Smirnoff.
I’m pretty sure that’s what I’d sound like if I started throwing around phrases like “call an audible” and “batted cleanup.”
From now on, I’m sticking to reality TV references.