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Little Joe had booted another grounder, an easy one this time, and my patience was wearing thin. I knew he could have made the play if he was concentrating, and so did he. And he knew I knew. To put it plainly, he was making a big public display of dragging his ass and exaggerating how exhausted he was, just to show the world what a mean dad I was. For the life of me I could not figure out what this kid's problem was. I used to go out on my own and practice for hours just for love of the game...and here he was, the lucky little SOB, getting an adult's attention and instruction--and he makes a big point of acting like a jerk. Truth be told, I was getting sick of the game-playing and the attitude.
"Hey pal," I called out, forcing myself to smile, "you gonna get your head in this or what?"
There was no response, naturally. Big surprise! I felt my heartbeat quicken. Be diplomatic, I reminded myself, or he's gonna run straight to Mommy and then there's that to deal with. Keep it light. Maybe the humorous approach would do the trick...
"Hey buddy, I'm talking to you. You deaf or just dumb?" I laughed to show him I was only being half-serious.
Well, guess what. The poor, abused kid whose father was hitting fungoes to him on his one day off just kept standing there. Then the manipulative little fucker's face got all red and his eyes filled up with tears. It was an Oscar-caliber performance.
Super--if he wanted to act like a baby I was going to treat him like one. "Dad, I told you, I'm tired," I began to imitate him in an exaggerated whine. (It's possible that a note of contempt may have crept into my voice at this point.) "I don't feel like trying," I continued, "because I don't care if I improve or learn how to do it right. I'd rather play video games because it's easier." Now the waterworks began in earnest. Un-fucking-believable.
Frankly I was beginning to sicken of the whole thing, and my tone of voice became weary. "Congratulations, Joe. You made me lose my temper. You happy?" But something about the look on his face suggested he was only half listening, which set me off again. I actually may have snapped a bit here--probably counterproductive I admit, but I was as fed up as anyone else in my shoes would have been. "Huh?" I roared. "Answer the question. Yes or no. Are you fucking happy?" I began to walk towards him. "Do you know what I would do right now if I were you? If I were you I'd GET...THE...BALL."
That got a response all right. The little kid took off like a rabbit.
Date Written: March 31, 2003
Author: Jon Matza
Average Vote: 4.875