All but a very few friends spend Saturdays in delightful renewal. They meet for coffee or stroll through the downtown market. Depending upon the season, they bike in the park, visit a museum or artistic display, and wrap the day with a cleverly prepared late supper enhanced by the perfect glass of wine. Of course, most are either childless by choice or empty nesters.
A small, fearless (and incredibly exhausted) group does as I do – we hit ball parks, hockey rinks, and soccer or football fields to watch our progeny. Oh, don’t get me wrong. I’ll wrap the day with a beverage. But our supper will be early, and probably reheated. And the day? Noisy, chaotic, drama-filled – and every bit as satisfying.
We wake up early, grab breakfast, pack a lunch, gear up, and hit the road. Now, I adore watching my son play ball (quick mommy moment – he had a double, a triple, pitched beautifully, and forced some great plays – okay, I’m done). As much as I enjoy seeing his exhilaration as he hones skills, I confess to major Saturday morning writer jollies eavesdropping on the conversations around me.
The fodder for character description is rich. I’m surrounded by bored siblings, doting grandparents, harried moms, and psycho-relieving-their-glory-days wannabe little leaguers. I know the stereotype has the wannabees as dads, but the women are gaining ground on over-the-top behavior (sheez people, get a grip. Really? They’re kids, not major leaguers. Lighten up).
This past Saturday, I discovered a really weird-cosmic-symmetry between the usual game chatter and the social miasma in the stands. The umpire’s calls and the general cries of encouragement echoed (or perhaps the reverse is true) the cell phone conversations occurring around me.
Disclaimer: I’m not saying either the cheers/critiques from the stands or the phone conversations made a lot of sense. Really. I found myself reaching for the little WTF sticky notes a friend gave me to mark each page in my notebook. Not even a fiction mastermind could make this *%&! up.
Here’s a sample:
From the stands: “Why is he pitching? Kid couldn’t hit a cow with that bat!”
Cellphone: “I told him to ‘divorce the cow’! But does he listen? No. Calls me a crazy old bat and hangs up.”
From the stands: “Two more, baby, just two more.”
Cellphone: “He’s had two chances. I’m just an idiot for staying with him, but he’s got a job again and the baby’s due in December.”
From the stands: “ok. Ok. OK!”
Cellphone: “Not now. Fine, here’s a five, but bring me back the change. So, okay, where was I. Yeah. Okay, so like I’m walking up to the house and she said ‘I changed my mind’. So, I’m like ‘seriously’? ‘Yeah’, she said, ‘seriously’. So I go ‘Okay’.”
Saturday in suburbia: what’s my poison? Well, as nice as it might someday be to wander through a market on a sunny morning, I’ll take my chances on the ball field for now. It’s writing research even when I’m cheering for my little guy. What do you do on a Saturday morning for relaxation? And, since writers never truly relax, where does your research take you?