Published Friday, July 27, 2012
Most of the time, I’d like to think I’m a proper Southern lady. I write thank-you notes. I say please and bless her heart, but there are times when people make me so angry that I can’t even employ the Southern lady way of killing them with kindness.
Take this past spring at one of my son’s baseball game, for example. I paced behind home plate as my son squatted in his catcher’s gear, sweat running down his face and red clay in his eyes.
He had caught every game without relief with the exception of one inning, when a boy filling in was promptly carried off the field after being clocked in the head by a wayward ball.
I paced not because I was nervous that my son would suffer the same fate. I’ve been a boy’s mama long enough to know that he probably would get hurt -- and he’d probably get over it pretty fast.
No, I paced because there was a rabid fan in the stands. I’m sure you know the type. They holler, yell and berate the players. That’s fine for major or even minor league baseball, but these were 10- and 11-year-old kids. And I don’t even think he was related to any of them.
I listened, fumed, paced and shot him dirty looks, trying to politely let him know that he was distracting the kids and ruining an otherwise peaceful evening at the ball park, to which he was oblivious.
Frustrated, I did the next thing I knew to do – tell my husband.
“Can’t you just ignore him?” he said.
I tried for about 30 seconds until the next hoot, holler and obnoxious rant started and decided that was impossible. So, I stood up and sized up the situation and concluded it was a good thing God made me a 5 foot, 2 inch woman and not a man, because I’d be wrapping my knees right now.
Wrapping one’s knees is a technique my daddy always employed when we were growing up. He’d get so angry – usually because someone did or said something out of line to one of his girls – my mom, my sister and me – that he’d be ready to fight. But before he could fight, he had to wrap his knees. Years of weightlifting had taken its toll, and they had to be wrapped and wrapped tightly before any physical activity, especially putting a whooping on someone.
Fortunately, Dad carried knee wraps in his back pocket for just this sort of situation. And, even more fortunate for the other guy, my mom, my sister and I were always on hand to talk Dad out of killing someone.
I can remember it clearly. He’d stomp in, red faced, telling us just what he was going to do to that “you-know-what.”
We’d say “No, Daddy, don’t fight him!” all the while Dad would wound the wrap around his knees tighter and tighter. By the time he got them wrapped, the redness had left his face; he’d calmed down enough to realize that perhaps pulverizing the guy wasn’t the best method.
It wasn’t until I was an adult that I understood why Daddy had to wrap his knees. Sure, he had bad joints, but it also gave him time to calm down and put things in perspective.
I may not be an Olympic weightlifter, and I may not be a man, but I certainly get angry enough – on and off the ball field – that I, too, have had to go “wrap my knees.”
Whether that be taking a walk or writing a column or going to get a Coke at the concession stand for 20 minutes, it works, fortunately -- for the other guy, that is.