Female friendship, first impressions, little league moms, motherhood

Hand Warmer and The Gypsy: Judgement, Friendship and Little League

Shreveport Little League

The aluminum stands chilled by a frosty Spring night cut through my long skirt and coat with ease sending shivers up to my floral headband. My 5th grader with 3% body fat shifted weight back and forth, waiting for his turn in the dreaded little league  draft. Two long-time female friends to my right were huddled together when the one in scrubs loudly proclaimed a crude comment about hand warmers. The two laughed uproariously. She glanced my way and I nodded politely but with kids within earshot, I was a little taken aback. The ballplayers were released and I warmed the car and readied the Gatorade for Jack. Try-outs were over but the real work had only just begun.

With back room politics which would make Huey Long blush, the 2010 draft was complete and Jack landed on The Dodgers. To his delight he discovered that many former teammates would also wear Dodger Blue. Being the Tiger Mom that I am I was most excited about the hours of guilt-free social time with moms I never got to see. I know there are awesome mothers who know how to bubble in the little score thingy and run the scoreboard. I always considered my lack of volunteering for the book or board my highest contribution. At the end of the first practice I heard a loud laugh from behind me and realized that someone else was a Dodger Mom, too: The Hand Warmer.

The season progressed and within that little league environment of camaraderie and overexposure, peanuts and sweet tea, friendship grew. Hand Warmer proved to have comedic observation skills, unique phraseology and a keen wit. I had to love that. I enjoyed her stories about growing up with deaf parents and began to appreciate so much more about her than I could have ever known at first blush. Coach Trey drove the boys hard and brought out a championship title from them. He repeated this the next year and almost a third. Acutely superstitious, Coach wore the same shorts every game. In support, we vowed to wear the same clothes as well. I was all in before I realized that my commitment meant wearing my peasant dress every night for five nights. In a row. I was deemed the village wench before it was all over.

Our third season together, Hand Warmer and I reminisced about our false first impressions of each other. I said, “Do you remember watching the draft that frozen night and what you said about HAND WARMERS? I quoted her phrase back to her and told her I thought she was a thoroughly brash woman. This time we both howled with laughter at her comment. She laughed and said, “How hilarious, I thought you dressed like a gypsy! In fact before I knew your name I called you the gypsy. You always had some crazy colorful skirt and matching earrings on!”

I thought about Hand Warmer today in the fondest way. Thankful for the seasonal friendship we shared and the respect I still carry for her. While the golden days of little league have passed and our boy’s interests and schools have taken them different ways, I still reflect with love and admiration for the women behind the raucous laugh: a sensitive, kind and beautiful soul. An unlikely woman whose spirit surprisingly warmed me.

What are some of your first impressions of other people which turned out to be all wrong?

Female friendship, freedom, friendship, Overcoming loss

A Return to Baylor

Hilarious Video of Mom Jeans running: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rhJxlrqlsX4

There are a few women in my life whom our concentric circles of crazy align so perfectly that it makes us far more dangerous together than we are individually. So it is with Maureen. Mo and I were room mates our sophomore and junior year at Baylor. People would tell us that they could not take being inside either of our brains for five minutes. Which we thought was full-on awesome.

It is strange that we ever became friends, really. She was the brainy and brash Irish St.Louis girl and I was the only slightly-less brash Southern Belle who relied on brownie baking to get through college. But then again if you are from the same tribe you have an unavoidable way of finding each other. She has been my friend in sunshine in rain; weddings, funerals and all other momentous seasons in-between. After John and I were engaged, I told him that we could not get married until Mo came back from Japan in 9 months. And yet John still likes Mo.

With Baylor now being on the map football-istically thanks to Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III, (RG3,) a new bazillion-dollar stadium was built on campus in Waco. I caught wind of friends coming from Atlanta, Houston and Dallas to be there for the inaugural game against SMU on August 31st and I decided that our return to campus was long overdue. 

On August 22 I texted Mo that we needed to be there for the game on he 31st. She assumed October 31st, but silly her, no, I meant 9 days from then. She booked her flight, I scavenged for impossible tickets, began searching for matching shirts (vital) and because time was short, crafting matching Baylor jewelry for us. 

I squeezed in visits with two other of my Dallas / Ft. Worth steel magnolias (Gina and Stork,) and picked up Mo from the airport with “We Are Family.” blaring from my Rogue with all windows down. Because you are always the same age inside and darn if I’m not still 18. We did the scream / sing / dance reunion hug, grown men laughed at not with us and Maureen invited one old guy to come with us just for fun. Which I told her he may take the wrong way and there was no room since she had her huge suitcase.

Hair did & jewelry on we headed West to Waco Sunday Morning. First on the agenda was the Baylor Bookstore. Check. Bear Pit. Check. Old dorm room: roadblock. We quickly learned that the dorms are now on lockdown to keep out the riffraff. Which totally did not work. Soon with the help of a new friend who could tell we were not human traffickers we were on Memorial third floor. It smelled the exact same: burnt microwave pop corn and hair product with spray starch undertones. Yummy.

We crept down the sacred hall amused that the wood paneling survived the renovation and arrived at our Sophomore year dorm room. This venerable spot, with views of The Browning Library, was holy grounds for all we became in the 9 month time period of our lives. We snapped a picture of ourselves in front of our room and since the room next door was open, Mo tapped on that one first.

“Hi. We used to live next door. We used to have old ladies come back to look at our dorm room they lived in 30 years ago and now we’re the old ladies. Can we take a look around?”

“Of course! Come in.” said our new sweet friend.

Since she showed signs of cooperation, we asked if she would take our picture. In the bathroom. Reenacting shaving our legs. She said that the girls who lived in our actual room were there and they wouldn’t mind our looking around. We knocked on the bathroom door expectantly, curious yet nervous that we would be turned away. 

The co-ed answered the door as though she routinely received middle-aged women via her bathroom and told us to feel free to look around. Which took three seconds. Little had changed in our room despite 25 years of wear and tear. The formerly sophomore dorm was now a Freshman honors dorm. She said her roommate was coming back in a minute and would love to meet us which we found hard to believe. Sure enough, a few minutes later, the door opened and we yelled, “surprise, we used to live in your room!” to a shocked Freshman. What else could we have done?

The girls politely asked us to lunch and we told them we’d catch up with them at the Student Union Building. They insisted on walking with us, threw on their Baylor Line jerseys and we ventured to the SUB together. Maureen and I grabbed salads and reminisced about how only guys used to run in the Baylor Line (The Freshman who form the line for the football team to run through) We looked at each other, began laughing hysterically and knew that we owed it to the generations of Baylor Women who never got to run to open McClane Stadium and run in The Baylor Line. 26 years later.

Yes, George and Laura Bush and a ton of other important people were there, yes security was NUTS and yes, we did have tickets to the game which cost a kidney. We are law-abiding citizens, and typically make excellent choices. But there are in every life those handful of times when fate taps you on the shoulder and beckons you under the rope and you really would be crazy to hesitate.  Maybe it was the late Robin Williams’ sentimentally whispering “Carpe Diem” in my ear or maybe just because I am woman hear me roar or maybe it was regret over those four years of wearing dresses, hose and pumps to football games, but I did it. I ran with the Baylor Line. 

The scene from the field unfolded in slow-motion; beautiful green grass, jubilant alumni like me so thrilled to have a winning team, thousands on their feet cheering, reliving their glory days. And I ran. In flip-flops and mom jeans with purse slung over my shoulder. I ran on pure adrenaline from the utter joy of living life to the fullest. In total awe and disbelief that life could be this flat out beautiful. I ran, until I felt a velvet swoosh to my left which stopped me cold.

The perfect dreds swayed in slow motion as my crazy dream sequence suddenly got totally out of hand. There to my left was Robert Griffin III, whom I totally adore. I caught up with him (i know, right?) and swarmed him with the others, my iPhone randomly capturing me, then him, then me screaming. It did not capture his gentle yet firm velvet right arm prying me off of his body. This Moses of a man brought us into the promised land after wandering in the desert 40 years and I got to stalk him. Up close.

The Bears emerged from their locker room, the fireworks began in circular motion around the top of McClane and the Freshman ran to get to their seats. So I did as well. They all peeled off to the right and mom jeans went left. I was reunited with Mo at our seats who still cannot believe that I got to and she was prevented from, running in The Baylor Line. Together we continued to soak in the surreality of the epic day, thick in memories of our felt-like-yesterday past, amazed that so much time had passed and we had come so far.