Last week, I was still funky. Not George Clinton funky, but rather Abraham Lincoln funky. I don't know why that out of all the famous, depressed people in the world, Abraham Lincoln is my go-to representative, but there you have it: Abraham Lincoln funky.
I had dodgeball last week. I still showed up where I was expected, but I'd been absent from all the fun to be had. I passed on both the pre-game conversation and the pre-game beers. I became something I hate: a bystander.
"Y'all, I'm going to hit up the bathroom." I stood up from the corner booth and headed to the bar bathroom. I washed my hands and inspected myself in the mirror. Despite heading to a dodgeball game, I still wore makeup. My bangs were pinned back with a little bit volume. I bent over and pulled up my knee-high red soccer socks. My body looked as pulled together as it could for someone in a t-shirt and gym shorts; it was my spirit that was unshowered and collapsed on the couch in a puddle of infomercials and Kleenex.
I left the bathroom and headed back to the booth. I passed a table of three guys and stopped dead.
"Hey," I said.
"Hey," they said. They tipped their long-neck beer bottles toward me.
It was another dodgeball team. If I were telling the whole story, it was the dodgeball team that I openly refer to as The Douchebags, and one of them may have thrown a ball at my head and I may have whipped around and charged, starting a fight with them. It may have been an ugly scene.
But that was weeks ago. Since then the dodgeball league had its Christmas party at the bar, and I befriended the team via smack talk during a flip cup tournament. I think if I had super powers, they would be reading people and smack talk.
At the flip cup tournament, I was standing across from Hot Douchebag. I had already pointed out to him the welt on my thigh he gave me at said dodgeball game two weeks earlier. But as Harvey says, what we lack in dodgeball, we make up for in drinking. I had whooped him at flip cup.
"You sip like a girl," I jeered. "You need some yogurt for that yeast infection?"
He did a double take and his mouth hung open. "OOOOHHH!" screamed the rest of The Douchebags at my zing.
"Uh, I don't know. Can, can I have some of yours?" he eventually stammered back.
With that, I had befriended the team. I had actually befriended the team to the point that they gave Mel and me pointers on how to play dodgeball better.
I stood in front of the table. "Are we playing y'all tonight?"
"Nah," said Hot Douchebag. "We're playing the green team. We play you again in a couple of weeks."
"Oh," I said disappointed. "I thought we were playing The Douchebags." I winked.
"Uh, just for the record?" the third Douchebag in the back of the table raised his hand. "I wasn't there that night, at the game where y'all got beat up."
Hot douchebag pointed at my head, "Which side did I get you on?"
"No, you got me right in the thigh."
"But which side of the head did you get hit on?"
I pointed, "My left side."
"I'll be sure to get you on the other side next time to even you out," he laughed.
"That's cool," I smiled. "I'll just aim for your junk."
I waved goodbye. The smack talk made me feel better. On the way back to my booth, I play punched a member of the green team that waved at me earlier. I stopped at the round-top table containing the team we were to play that night and leaned across it. I made eye contact with a guy I had spoken to previously. With a stern face I pointed at my eyes and then at his eyes and then back at mine. "We're on our way to go practice. You better get ready!" He laughed.
At the basketball gym, each team warms up by throwing the dodgeballs to each other. Our team loves to roughhouse and peg each other with the ball when one of us isn't looking. "Emulating real-world conditions," I once justified.
The Third Douchebag from the bar accidentally hit Mel with the ball. He wasn't aiming at her; she had stepped into it as a freak accident. He profusely apologized, trying to overcompensate for his team nickname. She laughed as she brushed herself off. As he kept apologizing, I ran up behind him and threw the dodgeball in my hands at his back.
"Hey!" he said as he swung around.
He saw me standing there laughing at him and he began to laugh too.
I turned around and walked back to the corner of the gym where my team was collected. And because I wasn't looking, I got nailed by a dodgeball thrown by a member of my own team. It caught me off guard and I tumbled over.
I lay on the gym floor in a fit of giggles. It was official. My spirit was back.