Feeling Deflated…

My 12-year-old boy sense of humor was as deflated as a Patriots football today when I started searching for terms that I was sure would lead to inappropriate results.  Alas, my puerile efforts were thwarted at every turn. Word after term after phrase came back to the same thing. The NFL dealing with the Patriots under-inflated balls (see what I did there?). I figured I’d delve into that subject as it seems to be coming to a head.

The NFL rule book has a section which gives a blow-by-blow account of the standards their balls have to meet. The general make up is of a pebble-grained, leather-enclosed urethane bladder inflated to 12 1/2 to 13 1/2 psi. It details length, circumference, shape (prolate spheroid), weight and color. It also specifies that The Referee has the honor of being the sole judge of the suitability for all balls offered, and uses the pump provided by the home team if the balls need additional inflating. The Referee also gets to mark The Kicker’s balls. Prior to the start of the game, after much measuring, pumping, marking and handling, the balls get a clean bill of health. The Referee then delivers his balls to The Ball Attendant for safekeeping during the game.

Here’s where it gets more complex.  During the game, the balls are handled by many people. The Ball Attendant doles them out to The Ball Boys. The Ball Boys hand them off to The Referee, who then hands them off to another Referee with each play. The Center holds the ball, then tosses it to The Quarterback.  The Quarterback’s job is to get those balls in as many teammates hands as possible. Fortunately, The Teammates catch the flying balls, and do their best to cradle and protect them so The Opposition can’t get their hands on them. A fumble can get very ugly for The Ball, as it is grabbed and pounced upon by anyone who is close enough. At the end of the play, balls are tossed to The Referee who then makes sure they’re properly placed for the next play. The Kicker has his own special balls – those don’t get handled as much as the other balls, however they do tend to take more of a beating due to the swift, hard kicks they are punished with. Once they’re kicked, however, they are tossed to The Ball Boy who takes them off the field to recover.

Though the balls are supplied by The Home Team (36 or so), The Visitors, at their discretion, can bring their own balls (12) if the game will be held in an outdoor stadium. These provide additional backup if too many balls become wet, slippery, or muddy due to weather. The Visitor’s balls are also tested by The Referee prior to the game.

So what’s all the hubbub about? It seems that deflated balls can be an advantage. ‘DeflateGate’ has made a wealth of information available to The Masses regarding the condition of the balls and their impact on the game.  Who knew that having flatter balls could be an advantage? Apparently they’re easier to grip during inclement weather which allows them to be thrown harder and further. Sometimes, The Quarterback gets lucky, because due to scienc-y stuff, the balls deflate naturally during cold weather. Often, The Quarterback will work to rough up and scuff the surface of their balls as much as possible to improve handling. One Quarterback, during this whole ‘Ballghazi’ debacle, felt it was an appropriate time to shed his heavy load by confessing he paid someone to scuff/deflate his balls for The Super Bowl (which his team went on to win).

The moral of the story:

If you don’t let someone know IMMEDIATELY when you get your hands on balls that don’t feel right, you’ll probably spend Super Bowl Sunday on your couch, in front of the TV, watching guys play with someone else’s balls!!!

 

Treading Water

Bajiggity Day #783

Treading water is a fundamental skill for water polo players, synchronized swimmers, lifeguards, and anyone who doesn’t want to drown. It’s functional. It’s necessary.  It’s HARD, especially once fatigue and panic sets in.  If you can’t keep it up, you sink.

I almost drowned once (not a metaphor). I hadn’t yet learned how to tread water.  I got in over my head (again, not a metaphor) at the deep end of the pool. I was gasping for breath, but choking on water instead. I was rescued by a lifeguard, pounded on the back until I spit out the water, and proceeded to lie on the concrete until I was strong enough to stand. I refused to go in the water after that. I would sit on the side of the pool with my feet in the water, but that was it.

At some point, my Dad stepped in to get me back in the water.  He would take me in the pool (whilst I clung to him like a spider monkey), then throw me up in the air.  I would splash down, then doggie crawl to the wall.  I’d swim back to him, and he’d do it again.  It made me stronger, more confident.  He was right there, within arm’s reach, keeping me safe. Eventually, I had swim lessons. As my skills improved, I was proficient enough to join the swim team. I had chlorine surging through my veins.  I swam every summer through elementary school, all year in high school, and was lucky enough to make the team in college.

Training in college was, understandably, more intense. We swam an average of 5000 meters (3 miles or so), comprised of warm-ups, sprints, timed distances, and cool-downs. It wasn’t uncommon to have a certain amount of time dedicated to treading water – 60 minutes was probably the longest we ever had to endure. We would look at the training board and groan, but took heart in that we’d all be doing it together.  We would rely on each other to help pass the time without going crazy – talking, laughing, even singing. It made us better – built up our legs, strengthened our arms, improved our breathing techniques – made us stronger.

Treading as a disciplinary tool, however, was a different story. You’d have to do it while facing the wall in the deep end of the pool (water from the fill spout splashing in your face), holding a large and unwieldy object overhead (folding chair, kick board, pool skimmer), AND keeping your shoulders above the surface of the water.  You were never told how long you would have to tread. Treading water is hard enough. Doing it with your arms over your head will test even the strongest of swimmers. Doing it alone, in silence, with no end in sight? It’s torture.

Today, I’m alone in the deep end. I’m struggling to keep my head above the surface. I’m holding an elephant over my head. I’m getting tired. Panic is setting in. I’m getting frustrated. Swallowing water. Gulping air. My chest is burning. My legs are churning. My eyes are stinging. I can’t seem to buoy my spirits. I don’t see my teammates. I can’t reach the wall. I’m drowning (there’s the metaphor). I have no words of wisdom for myself…

…or do I ? (*cue drum roll*)

Breathe. Keep Kicking. Be brave. Raise your chin. Take a minute to regroup.

Breathe. Keep Kicking. Be strong. Move your arms. Tackle one thing at a time.

Breathe. Keep Kicking. Be smart. Look away from the clock. Catch your breath.

Breathe. Keep Kicking. Be bold. Stop treading. Start swimming.

Oh, and lose the elephant. Apparently they know how to swim…

On The Catwalk

Her strut was incomparable. She had impeccable foot placement, a confident swagger, perfectly timed poses, and a fierce expression on her face. What a show! Incredibly daring, avant-garde style. Leopard microskirt. Low-cut silk halter top. Fur crop jacket. Knee-high leather boots with ice pick heels. Sequined turban. She commanded attention with her very first step. Every eye was on her. Jaws dropped as she walked by. People craned their necks to catch that last glimpse before she turned the corner. Through it all, she maintained an aura of aloof disinterest.

Then she stopped. The crowd gasped with anticipation.

She swung an over-sized beaded bag off her shoulder, took a wailing child out of the stroller, and executed a flawless diaper change on a bench in the middle of the mall. She gently placed the baby back in the stroller, hoisted the bag over her shoulder, and sashayed her way back into the hordes of Saturday afternoon shoppers amid whispers of mockery and disapproval.

Did she even look in the mirror before she left the house??? She’s *got* to be pushing 250!!! They shouldn’t even make that skirt in plus sizes!!! She looks like an overstuffed sausage in a safari casing! WHAT WAS SHE THINKING??? I wouldn’t wear that, and I weigh less than her! Hold on, I’ve got to get a picture of this. What a great example she’s setting for her kid…

Granted, it wasn’t the most flattering fashion choice for a very short, overweight person.  In all fairness, the ensemble would have looked odd on a tall, thin person. Regardless, the venom and disgust was staggering. She was clearly confident, comfortable in her own skin, and seemed happy. However, the negative comments were overwhelming. I made a few myself – I actually followed her for a couple of minutes so I could snap a photo (which, sad to say, is still on my phone). There were so many categories of ‘shaming’ being covered, I couldn’t even begin to list them all.

I’ve been thinking about that incident a lot lately.

There are lists upon lists on the interwebs stressing the importance of loving your body. That imperfection is perfect. That everything is photoshopped. That the number on the scale doesn’t define who you are. That skinny doesn’t mean healthy. That there are all shapes and sizes. That happiness should never hinge on your size.  All great in theory. In practice, though?  A bit different.

I have a very hard time aligning how my clothes make me FEEL with how they LOOK once I check myself out in the mirror. I wear clothes that are ‘appropriate’ for my size and stage of life.  I tend toward comfort, but go with fun/quirky accessories for flair. I stick with simplicity for work, a standard ‘uniform’ of sorts – black pants, black flats, coordinating sweater/top.  Even with all that, I’ll get dressed (feeling comfortable/professional), look in the mirror, not like what I see, and find it almost impossible to maintain that confidence. I don’t think what I’m wearing LOOKS as good as it FEELS. Which immediately causes the tag to become scratchy, loose threads to start poking out, and an unidentifiable stain to magically appear…

I like to think I’ll react differently next time I see someone in less-than-flattering garb. I’ll find a way to see past what they’re wearing. I’ll admire their confidence, and avoid the criticism. I’ll sit up straight, throw my shoulders back, raise my arm and cry “waiter, I’ll have what she’s having”!!! Because at the end of the day, it’s about much more than loving our own bodies/imperfections – it’s about admiring those qualities in the ones who’ve already figured it out!

 

Baby, It’s Cold Outside!!!

There are about a bazillion posts out there claiming that ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’ perpetuates rape culture. I didn’t think another post was particularly necessary, but my hat ended up in the ring before I realized it left my hand.

I’ve never been particularly attached to the song, but it always seemed light and fun. A holiday staple. Initially, I scoffed at the idea. I mean, sheesh, not everything has dark undertones. Then I watched the clips. Indeed, I watched the video of Ricardo Montalban’s oily advances on Esther Williams with wide-eyed horror. I could practically feel the razor-sharp snowflakes shredding the already tattered remnants of my faith in humankind. I forged on, but kept hitting the same wall. Interpretation after interpretation, opinion after opinion, there it was, in black and white (well, technicolor, but that’s beside the point).

In searching for a better quality version of the clip from 1949’s Neptune’s Daughter on YouTube, I happened upon the one below. It’s amazing what an extra two minutes of film yields. The game-changer starts at 2:03. BAM!!!!! The tables are turned. *Gasp*. Fresh-faced Betty Garrat sings those same words to Red Skelton, and the words magically morph back into a harmless musical number. Granted, Ricardo following Esther around whilst repeatedly collecting her outerwear has a pretty high creeper factor.  I get it.

But…

We’ve got bigger fish to fry. Rape culture is Eminem. Tyler, The Creator. DMX. Rick Ross. Check out those lyrics. Watch those videos. Worry about those. Drugging and duct-taping women before beating and raping them? Go for it! Wear one out or kill her? Just find another. When in doubt, grab your Mom or sister!  Violent. Evil. Reprehensible. That’s rape culture. That’s TODAY. Figure out how to change THAT.  There’s no role reversal or change of perspective that could possibly make it morph into anything remotely harmless.

I really hope that, 65 years from now, there won’t be someone describing Eminem as simply ‘creepy’.  I’ll take my chances with Ricardo Montalban…