Posted 04-13-2004 at 20:29:41
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I showed up for Jake’s Little League game this afternoon, not a care in the world, looking
forward to watching him smack the ball with his characteristic umph. Then, as things tend to do when you’re least prepared, things went south, mucho fast.
“You’ve been volunteered to run the scoreboard for this game.” I was informed in a no-nonsense manner by my so-called best friend, Krista Johnston.
“Uh uh.” I replied, shaking my head. “I haven’t been trained on that thing.” I managed to stay out of that tower the entire last season by doing concession duty, and I had the same plan for this season, but it looked as though my luck had run out.
“It’s easy, I’ll show you.” She said, as she led me quite against my will, up the stairs to the tower.
The little electronic control box looked like the instrument panel for a Lear Jet.
“I...I’m not too sure about this.” I said, quite honestly.
Keeping the score book is one thing. You screw up, it’s between you and the pencil and the paper, and the eraser keeps your dirty little secrets. You screw up on the scoreboard, and God and everybody knows in a fraction of a second.
“Look, you push here for a strike, here for a ball, here to score a run, and here to reset the
inning. Simple. Easy as pie.”
“What kind of pie...because you know some pies are easier than others. Like that peanut butter pie I made on Easter, that was a cinch, but a Dutch apple, now that’s whole ‘nother ball of wax...” I was babbling, but I couldn’t help it, I was nervous.
“Call me if you need me, I’ll be right downstairs.” She was gone so fast I had to wonder if she was ever actually there.
I was sharing the tower with a fellow from the other team. He was keeping the score book, and he promised me that he would help me the best he could. He was a very polite sort, and even called me ‘Ma’am’. After we pointed out our respective kids to each other, commented on the weather and exchanged a few other pleasantries, I posed the question.
“How hard would it be for you to stop calling me Ma’am?” I asked. He grinned self-consciously.
“Pretty hard, I think, but I’ll try.”
Not only did he interpret what the umpire was saying, he helped me push buttons, and helped me decipher the controls and some of the baseball lingo. It was clear that he was not going to be able to shake the ‘Ma’am’ thing, so I simply took to calling him ‘Sir’. I was actually getting kind of comfortable with the scoreboard, until the bottom of the third inning when Sir’s team made their first run, and I had no idea how to score it. At that point the score was three to zero, our favor. Lacking instructions and any real common sense regarding things electronic, I merely gave our team another run, making the score
an undeserved four to zero.
I should have known I wasn’t going to get away with that. The look on the umpire’s face as he frowned up toward the tower, and the boo and hiss from the opposing team’s spectators, was enough to make me realize that I needed to do something, and do it fast.
“Hey...umm, hey, Sir? I messed up, I need to fix this, what button do I push?”
At first I thought he was so engrossed in the game that was still going on, (and that I was
getting increasingly more behind in recording), that he simply didn’t hear me. Then came the horrifying confession.
“I don’t know, Ma’am, I’ve show’d you everything I know about that thing.”
Things were going souther by the minute. The umpire was irritated with me, the home team hated me, Sir was losing patience with me, and out of desperation I did the only thing I could think to do. To clear out strikes and balls, you just kept hitting the button until it zeroed out and started over, so I tried the same technique with the runs button. The score read twenty-four to nothing, our favor, when it finally dawned on me that it wasn’t going to work. By then I was glaringly behind in keeping track of the current batter’s balls and strikes and I was seriously debating running, and leaving Sir to sort it out on his own.
Then the heavens opened up and an angel was sent. Mrs. Sir breezed into the tower, all business and know-how, and in a few seconds had the entire mess sorted out and even managed to catch up all the strikes and balls that I had let slip by. Needless to say my confidence was so badly battered that I offered to pay her if she would stay in the box with me in case of another crisis. She stayed. For free.
I guess when you’re a Mom, no sacrifice is too great for making sure that when your baby’s team scores a run, it’s shining up there on high in eighteen inch glowing glory for everybody to see. She stayed because she was nice, first, and because she was a good mom, second, and maybe because she has a kind soul and a soft spot for idiots. Either way, we got through the rest of the game with no more (major) screw ups. Sir (Junior) and his team won the game, seven to four, and it dawned on me that there were only a few people who knew for sure who was up there
running that scoreboard, so when I came down those stairs, I held my head high. All I had
to do was claim ignorance, which by rights, was appropriate. If anybody got too pushy, I would send them on up the stairs with instructions to take it up with ‘Sir’.