So, for those of you who know me, this post will be especially interesting. For those who don’t, I think you might still get a good laugh.
From the time I was very young, I really wasn’t much of an athlete. I’m not sure if I didn’t have the genetic code or just spent too much time watching tv. I did enjoy being outside, riding my bike with friends, climbing trees and such, but I just couldn’t get the hand eye coordination thing down when a ball was placed in my hands.
When I played little league, I was content to stand in right field close to the concession stand just dreaming of that final inning when we could rush to get our suicide icee. Unfortunately, it was punctuated by painful times at bat when my left arm was pulverized by the errant fast ball, or was it just that I didn’t really know where to stand. Hey, at least I got on base!
When 7th grade arrived, so did puberty and I grew a little faster than the other boys, so it just seemed natural that I should play basketball and do my part for God, country and community. That too was a failure. After two weeks of tryouts as all the boys lined up at the locker room door to see if their name made the list, I too crowded in praying to God that the coach had done his due diligence and rightfully struck me from the team. The other boys didn’t understand my gleeful exclamation as I saw my name was absent from the roster.
In high school, golf rolled around and I did my best to honor my father by playing and thought I could follow in his glorious career. My dad played alongside Ben Crenshaw and some of the other greats in high school and college and to this day remains quite a great player. Unfortunately, I spent more time in the weeds and trees searching for lost balls than on fairways and greens chasing pars and birdies.
All that to say, I don’t know a thing about sports. It is as elusive to me as the mind of a woman. I do enjoy going to a game with my friends. I just try to shout when they shout, clap when the people around me clap, repeat the things they yell – but the truth is – everyone knows I’m a pretender.
So, this past week will be especially funny to everyone and mostly to me. I got a call from my good friend at the local sports university here in Taichung. (also a source of humor in my life story – but that’s for another day) asking if I wanted to help as a translator for someone in town working at the Big 12 Baseball Tournament. I immediately laughed and questioned her sanity because even she knows my relationship with the sports world. But she pressed me and said that I should do it because it would really help my Chinese ability and be good experience for me. So I gave in and called the contact person.
As it turns out, there was a documentary film crew in town producing a multi-part film about the Big 12 Tournament as well as Taiwan Baseball. So for the next few days, I accompanied the director and a couple of cameramen around for various shoots, introduced them to many of my local friends who ended up being part of the film and got to use my recently acquired skill in Mandarin to it’s full potential – even learning many new things along the way.
The funniest moment came at the very end when the director had finished all the filming he would do in Taiwan. We were standing at home plate of one of the big baseball fields, the Japanese team had left the stadium and we were alone. He turned to me and said, well, now it’s time for your interview. I laughed and said, “What are you talking about?” He said, “I want to get your perspective on baseball in Taiwan and in America.”
I burst into laughter and thought about all my friends perhaps seeing me try to speak with any authority on anything sports related just laughing their heads off and told the director he was out of his mind. He told me that he was serious and he wanted my opinion. So I said, well, with the caveat you don’t make me look like an idiot.
I answered a few questions and off we went. Who knows if what I said will end up on the film or the cutting room floor, but it was a great experience. Working with some world class athletes, getting in the middle of fans enjoying their favorite game, cutting into the middle of press conferences, shoving microphones into people’s faces – and doing it all in my second language.
Oh, the places you’ll go.