My Family (a long time ago)

Friday, May 24, 2013

No Playing Ball in the House

On Mother’s Day, while visiting with my wife’s family one of my nephews was kicking a ball against the wall inside the house. He wasn’t kicking it too hard and it was one of those $2.99 lightweight balls, but I found myself telling him that he shouldn’t be doing that inside the house. As is usually the case when an “old” guy tells a young kid who is not their own to do something, he completely ignored me and kept on kicking the ball against the wall. To my relief, his mother told him to stop a few minutes later.

One of the rules in my house growing up was that there was no ball playing in the house. That meant no ball of any kind could be thrown, tossed, hiked, passed, shot or in any way made to fly through the air. We were allowed to roll a ball, but that got out of hand at times, too, and that was usually shut down quickly. We had a nice yard to play in so why did we need to play ball in the house? Because it could be a lot of fun. Remember, this was before the days of 100+ channels on cable and we only had about five or six channels, so sometimes we had to make up our own fun. Putting on our baseball gloves and throwing a ball from couch to rocking chair to the spot next to the fireplace could be a lot of fun, especially when you looked one way and threw the other. Tossing a football back and forth over my sister’s head was always quite entertaining, too.

Inevitably, though, someone would make an errant throw and something would get knocked over, or someone would throw a little too hard and someone else would get hit in the face, or the football would go a little too close to my sister’s head and she’d yell and scream, and Mom would put an end to the game. So at some point Dad laid down the law and there was not supposed to be any more ball playing in the house. I say “not supposed to be” because we were typical boys and still played ball in the house – as long as Dad wasn’t around. We wouldn’t have dared do it right in front of him.

One time, one of my brothers and I were tossing a wiffle ball back and forth. We weren’t hitting the ball; we were just tossing it easily back and forth to one another. We had the TV on and were throwing it occasionally while we watched the show. At some point, I threw the ball to him and he ducked out of the way. The wiffle ball hit the On/Off button of the TV and bounced back to me. We both laughed and went back to watching our show and tossing the ball back and forth. Later on, my brother went to turn off the TV and nothing happened. He pressed the On/Off button again and the TV stayed on. I thought he was kidding so I went over to the TV and pressed the button and got the same result. Now I was getting worried.

My first thought was, “Dad is going to kill me.” For some reason, whenever I did something stupid (quite a lot) or bad (not as much, but enough) I always thought that. Just so you know, as much as I dreaded him coming home at times like that, none of us were ever killed by my father. I told Mom what happened and she didn’t believe me. The big question was how could a wiffle ball break the On/Off button of a TV? She figured I must have been throwing something else. When Dad came home I had to tell him, too, and his response was basically the same as Mom’s: how could a wiffle ball break the TV? Both my brother and I explained multiple times what happened but no one was buying it. Not Dad, not Mom, and not any of my siblings who weren’t there at the time.

So the interrogation stopped and Dad reiterated that there was no ball playing of any kind in the house and life went back to normal. Oh, except for the TV, because we had to unplug it to turn it off and plug it back in to turn it on again. I think we did this for about a year before we got another TV. Apparently, to fix that button cost almost as much as buying a new set, so it never did get repaired. Every once in a while, someone would ask me “what really happened” that day, and as much as I told them how a lousy, stupid, plastic wiffle ball broke the On/Off button, I don’t think any of them believed me. I even started to doubt it myself – and I was there when it happened!

Take it from someone who’s been there and done that, don’t play ball in the house. Not even with a wiffle ball because you just never know what’s going to happen. Besides, no one will believe you broke anything with a plastic ball anyway.

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