Every Friday night, my father and I play in a bocce league.
This may seem old-fashioned to some, but, hey, I like pineapple-upside-down cake, so I like retro.
It’s also a group for people over 50, so it’s not like they’re going to form an outlaw skateboard league. (They also initially barred me ‘cause I wasn’t old enough. Yeah me!)
For anyone not acquainted with this game, there’s a court, and you throw grapefruit-sized, rock-like balls at a much smaller white ball. The team who gets the most large balls near the little ball wins.
Simple, right? Well, it’s not. There’s technique, strategy and a whole lotta luck.
I used to call my father The Spanish Ringer until our then-captain rushed up to me and poked me in the belly button (she’s diminutive and that’s as high as she could reach on my tree-like self).
Her lovely Basque-country ire was in full swing.
“He’s not Spanish!” she screamed at me.
“Um, ya mean that big, German-looking guy who can’t even order off a menu in a Mexican restaurant? Yeah, no, he’s not Spanish.”
I then had to explain to her that the only reason I called him that was because he used to winter in Spain and played bocce every day.
He throws like a metronome: Perfect every time.
Unlike me, who can’t hit the broad side of a barn. I know this because there’s a barn nearby and it fears me not.
Even though we’ve been playing in this league for more than five years, my father and I don’t really fit in.
Maybe it’s because I don’t take Lipitor and all of my joints are original. I just don’t have a lot to talk about.
Or maybe it’s because my father is the deacon at the local church and many players are congregants. You just don’t tell an off-color bocce joke in front of someone who knows God personally. (However, if any of you out there do know one of these jokes, send it to me. I’ll pay you a buck — hard cold cash.)
“Are you blind?”
“You’re throwing too hard!”
“Pay attention, you old fool!” (My personal favorite.)
These are some of the invectives the other teams hurl at their partners.
One of the advantages to having your father as your team partner is that we never judge each other.
A lot of the teams on the league have been married for longer than I’ve been alive. I will never have a relationship like that.
Watching these couples (usually as they’re kicking my butt), I admire them.
They’ve earned the right to call each other idiots.
And I’m jealous.