ESSAYS & SHORT FICTION
It was the wait that killed me. Knowing that I would be in the line-up until the end. The relentless test of how much embarrassment I could withstand before crumbling. The pattern of everyone’s name being called before mine.
I was a permanent fixture in the duo of the remaining two.
I was always picked last for dodge ball.
“Comon guys,” I would complain, impatiently shifting my feet from one L.A Gear sneaker to the next, rolling my eyes after each selection was made.
“But we want to win, Christina,” my classmates would say apologetically.
I couldn’t blame them. But the candid reaction never lessened the pungent sting of their greed. The ten or so minutes of public pain orchestrated by the “Captain” was usually followed by an hour of physical activity in which I was the outlet for all teenage frustration. Predicting the outcome, my excuses to not participate in gym class became boundless. Coach, I have my period. Coach, I have a stomach ache. Coach, I’m sugar crashing. Coach, I’m pregnant. Coach, I can’t see. Coach, I coming out of a heroin induced coma.
“Where’s your note?”
The perennial question matched by my despondent answer.
“I don’t have one”.
“Then quit your whining and get in the game, Stimpson.”
What is most discouraging was that I wasn’t whining. I genuinely didn’t want to play because I knew the effort was futile. I didn’t enjoy the game so why try? Just to be part of the crowd? It was too competitive for me, and I refused to abide by any rules that I didn’t make up myself.
Somehow dating feels the same.
Like there is a divine Captain assembling the best team for the big game day, and we are all just waiting to be selected. Everybody still wants to win, and nobody wants to be the last man standing, but there aren’t enough good players to go around.
I guess I’m still experiencing the repercussions of my gym class greed. The only difference is that in the dating world greed is masked as pheromones, and dodge ball is a lot more merciful.