15 August 2006

Take Me Out To The Ball Game

As the summer draws to a close and all the little tykes reach for their three-packs of Kleenex and new Blue's Clues lunchboxes, so too does the city baseball (or softball, in this case) league play out its final games.

My husband has been playing for the all-male softball team with some of his coworkers, usually about nine other accountants. At first I thought this an odd extra-curricular activity for one who enjoys playing with his tenkey or balancing the checkbook on Quicken, but he wanted to show that he was "involved outside of the office" since it looked good on his CPA evaluation. So every Thursday night for about eight weeks, he'd don his bright blue jersey and we'd head to Arlington for his game.

As if watching ten grown men who specialize in reconciling numbers try to throw around a softball for 55 minutes weren't entertaining enough, here are a few highlights from the season, if you will...
During one of the very first games, the other team's members alternated wearing a sombrero every time they came out onto the field. (They had tried wearing it while at bat, but discovered it wasn't very easy to run while keeping one hand on your head.) This same game coincided with the Mavs in the playoffs, and the catcher had brought his radio so everyone could hear the play-by-plays. Every so often one of the other team's members (usually the catcher) would yell, "What's the score?" And we knew he wasn't talking about the game at hand.
One particular game, the opposite team was especially talented in hitting foul balls, the kind that arc up and over the chain-link fencing (you know, the kind that supposedly protects the fans from those stray little boogers). Inevitably, one of said foul balls flew into the stands where all the wives (myself included) were chatting away. As soon as we realized what was headed straight toward us, everyone scrambled to move out of harm's way, which mostly amounted to curling up into a ball in the lap of the person next to you while screaming bloody murder. The ball bounced safely over our heads, and all the players thought it was pretty funny how frightened we were. But really, it was a close call.
During the second inning of one of the later games, a fly ball was hit towards left field over the foul line. As the scrawny left fielder sprinted to catch the ball, the crowd (and team) was riveted to this figure barrelling towards the fence. We continued to watch, dumbfounded, as he slowed his pace, reaching the fence and sticking his glove across it just as the softball fell right into place, as though he had done it a thousand times.
The second to last game was quite an exciting one, as the third baseman from the opposite team caught a line drive right in the face - in his mouth, to be exact. He held cheap paper towels and a baggie of ice to his bloodied lip as he rushed to his car to drive to the ER for stitches. And who says softball isn't a contact sport?

One win, two forfeits, and five losses later, his season concluded. I don't know about you, but something about those numbers just doesn't seem quite right.

But then again, if you're out on the field, it's hard to audit the scoreboard.

08 August 2006

Bargain Hunters

As a slave to the retail industry as of late, I have come to a greater understanding of the ebb and flow of buying and selling. Previously one to simply purchase what was needed at the time it was needed, I never gave a great deal of thought to the concept of seasonal sales. Sure, I knew about those after-Christmas sales with scads of forlorn ornaments that will never grace anyone's tree and ridiculous sweaters that no one in Texas would ever have occasion to wear, and the back-to-school specials where everyone bought No. 2 pencils and Mead notebooks for half price, and, here recently, the phenomenon known as tax-free weekend where teenagers and their parents flocked to local malls just to save two or three dollars on their Hollister jeans. But did I really stop to consider the logic, the reasoning, the...well, scheming that went into seasonal sales? Not until today.

While my coworkers scurried about, frantically asking the other if they'd found any good finds yet, I marked down the remaining set of fondue forks to 99 cents. A giant procelain rooster was marked down to $43.99 (not quite so much of a steal, but still a heavy discount). A set of three bud vases went to $11.99, and a cast-iron chicken-shaped roaster was marked $19.99 (which caused quite a ruckus as three employees neared blows to see who'd get the last two). Straw placemats went to $2.99 and a tin of dinosaur cookie cutters was marked down to $4.99. This is just a bunch of junk, I thought. But, oh, how quickly would I eat my words.

Not long after, whatever spells the head honchos of the retail world have cast over their marked-down merchandise caught me in its inescapable grasp, and I purchased two bottles of dish soap, a Rachel Ray cookbook, an ice cream scoop and an adorable little round cutting board.

What is it, I began to wonder, about those red 99s or bright orange stickers marked "clearance"? Why are we so compelled to purchase something, never mind that we wouldn't know what to do with red peach nectar or beaded fish napkin rings, just because some retailer deems it a bargain?

I have a funny feeling this will become a ritual on markdown days. I just can't resist a bargain. At least, that's what the higher-ups would have me think.

06 August 2006

Things I Will Not Miss About Our Apartment...Or Will I?

As we have been ripping up linoleum and old baseboards and scouring our new house on contact paper patrol for the past week, I am getting it in my head that this house will be our home, even if we haven't technically moved in yet. The one-bedroom apartment we've called home for the past two months has its charms, I suppose, but I will certainly be ready to distance myself from this place - charms and all (which I've listed below for your reading pleasure).

1. I will not miss swiping my gate access card before I can enter the complex, although half the time the gate wasn't closing properly anyway. (I do suppose a garage door opener is similar, but at least you don't have to roll down your window to use it.)
2. I will not miss the drably painted walls and really cheap carpet, which, although only installed a mere nine months ago, is showing considerable wear. Oh, and there are no baseboards, which is really, really wierd.
3. I will not miss our upstairs neighbors whose creaky bed (and other unmentionable noises) wakes me up at 4:30 am. On a regular basis. And it's not because they toss and turn while sleeping.
4. I will not miss the "leasing specialists" who, every time we retrieve a wedding present from the office, threaten to raid our apartment and take every single one. And the thing is, I really think they might do it.
5. I will not miss the microscopic kitchen with absolutely no room for all our new kitchen gadgets (hence they remain unopened and stacked along one wall in the dining room, making it all the easier for the ladies from the main office to find when they pillage our place). And the oven's finicky, which doen't faciliate perfectly golden baked goods. And that's never good.
6. I will not miss walking across the street to the laundry room, only to discover I'm one quarter short of a load. And I won't particularly miss carrying my freshly-washed unmentionables back to our apartment where I will hang them to dry (I can't tell you how many times I've dropped something...well, almost).
7. I will not miss Raptor Baby who lives in the apartment behind us, and whose parents can't seem to figure out how to make him/ her stop crying...in the middle of the night.

There is some nostalgia, I must admit, that I feel when I think about our first apartment, the very first space that my husband and I shared, where we learned (and are still learning) to share the bathroom and keep our dirty clothes in the hamper and that it's not really all that important to make the bed everyday and that we really can make a meal out of a can of chili. Those fond remembrances, however, are quickly overshadowed by the excitement and thrill of our first home, a place we'll hopefully live for longer than two and a half months.

01 August 2006

Carried Over the Threshold (After Being Rear-Ended In the Driveway)

Yesterday my husband and I signed the official documents to make our little blue-shuttered, two bedroom, one bath home our very own. So after dinner, with the tool chest and two pair of work gloves in the back seat, we drove over to assess more closely the 1100-and-something square feet we now possess.

As we were turning into our driveway off the quiet residential street, we heard brakes squealing and a crunch-thud as a little faded blue 80s-model compact made contact with the rear end of my husband's Camry.
(Minor changes have been made in the language choice of our friend, the negligent driver. This does not alter the main story.)

"What the bleep?! Why don't you use your bleepity-bleep turn signal? Don't you know how to bleeping drive?" A very flustered teenage girl in Daisy Dukes and a worn tshirt spewed profanities at my husband, who, with remarkable calm, asked her to lower her voice.
"I don't have a license or insurance and they're going to send me to jail!" She wailed. So there's a reason why you shouldn't be driving, I thought to myself.
The blonde passenger in the front seat, who I could barely see for the mass of Mardi Gras beads and strawberry-shaped car fresheners hanging from the rearview mirror, was laughing nervously. The driver's Hispanic boyfriend climbed out of the back seat to help review the damage, which amounted to nothing more than a little scratch on the edge of my husband's wheel well and a rather sizable concavity in her fender.
"It's going to be okay. I'll probably have this looked at, just in case, but it doesn't look like it did all that much damage to my car, " my husband attempted to console her. She just flipped her poorly- highlighted hair with a black nail polished hand.
After writing down her information, the rattled teenager and her posse drove off without so much as an apology.

Minutes later, as my husband carried me over the threshold and into our new home, I couldn't help but wonder if this was a bad omen, or a good one.

(The reader may also be interested to know that not even a week ago, I had a little accident of my own when I bumped another car at a stop light. This occurance, perhaps, makes yesterday's events more ominous. ...or does it?)