Chapter 30

I ended up opting out of beauty contests.  Hung up my sashes and retired a winner.  Girls I knew from the pageants couldn’t believe it when I dropped out.  And I knew a lot of them.  It’s a sort of killer elite that you get to know, like you end up knowing all the bikini contest and wet T-shirt contestants later on, or the girls you play at the semis and finals and championships for three years.  You know each other, and know that you’re a special tribe that nobody else has a grip on.  There’s you all, and then there’s the drones.  And I decided to get out of it, and they couldn’t believe it.  They all tended to see me as a major player who’d they’d be up against at higher levels some day.  Maybe a Miss Issippi.  Or Miss Georgia or wherever Daddy was passing out The Word at the time.  They couldn’t believe I’d walk out.  But not all that sorry, I’d guess.  You know what a modest little violet I am, but I’d have hated to have to run off against me for a crown.  I was the genuine article that the whole pageant scene had been built to enable.

But one thing was, I’d never really wanted to be MissAmerica or Miss Universe or Miss Pangeia or any of that.  I really didn’t care.  I’d been in that scene to please Mama.  And then to please that whole support crew I was talking about here.  And that’s who was really crushed when I pulled the plug.  They didn’t have a queen bee to reflect glory on them any more.  Momma was okay with it, which was another factor in my decision to get off the circuit.  I think she was seeing that her little angel wasn’t exactly getting more angelic by advancing in those things.  She was happy I quit.

I told everybody I needed to concentrate on getting into college, which went over well. Or at least was something you’re not allowed to argue against, right?  Tell a girl that school isn’t as important as competitive va-va?   And it was true, really.  I was seeing it as a Way Out, and noticing the difference between people who worked College Person jobs and those who worked Diploma/Dropout jobs.  And even if I took the Way Out of getting married, who was I going to marry down there on Tobacco Road?  Meanwhile, college guys had money and smarts and nice clothes and good prospects and foreign cars.  I qualified for this lame missions scholarship to a church college, and actually took it right out of school, but I was out of there by spring quarter, transferred up, up and away.  Because the real ride, I could see, was athletic.

Which was the real, secret reason I dropped pageants.  I need more time and more concentration on sports.  That was what I did want and aspire to.  Scoring, winning.  Kicking ass.  So my supporting entourage wasn’t out anything.  They didn’t even have to do anything any more, just come down to the field or the gym and hunker down on the bleachers. Scream and clap and holler.

So that was what I was all about in high school, following the bouncing ball.  Well, aside from running around with boys doing all sorts of misbehavior and misdemeanors.  What I had to figure out was what my best bet was for a full ride.

My favorite was field hockey.  It was perfect, the Cammy Within running amok.  Tearing around slamming into people and whacking them with a stick.  Heaven on earth.  But not a huge sport for AAA scholarships and the blue chip players were blue blood girls from Yankee prep schools.  I didn’t have more than about a season and a half hockey experience.

I was also still very fond of basketball, which I’d been playing longer.  Another great physical aggression arena, and shooting was big fun.  I’d work hours and hours drilling in hook shots or trying to sink them from half-court.  Big problem was, I’m not tall.  I am a petite.  Which many women would donate their left tit to science to be, but was pissing me off all the way.  A handicap in those little high schools where I played, more apparently a damaging drawback in postseason games, a pretty obvious deal-breaker at the NCAA level.  I’d already given up on it for the long haul by my junior year, which was in Richmond, and I ran into my ultimate nightmare, which I expressed at the time as “big, mean, black lesbians”. I didn’t impress those chicks one tiny bit.

What it left was softball.  Softball has always been a special thing for girls, especially in the South, because it’s the girl sport that people will come see girls play.  The boys play hardball, the girls play softball.  Nice little set-up.  I also played hardball in Little League, where they had to let me play, but didn’t have to play me as much as they should have. But school and church softball was another story.  I didn’t like it as much because there isn’t as much contact.  Especially since I was a pitcher.  That’s what happens in ball, the lower levels you always see the standout athletes pitching because they’re better at it and it’s important.  Later on, they migrate to positions best suited to them.  And later I switched positions, but still came in on the mound now and then.  I still play, mostly in the LA strip club leagues.  Naked dancing chicks tend to be better than average athletes, by the way.  Once they get over themselves and get into it.  I tossed six no-hit innings for a skin magazine two years ago, against a team from Hooters.

Anyway, I buckled down to learn how to pitch better than any other chick in the South.  Hours learning to throw junk, building up speed.  I was working with the boys’ coach a little, anything I could pick up.  And also working on hitting.  I was a slugging pitcher.  I just like to hit things, I guess.  And one thing I figured out, if something happened to my rotator cuff, or I was on a team with a bigger, better pitcher, I could shift to the field and still contribute through RBI’s.  I was making it a science.

Sure enough, by the way, by college I’d been shifted to catcher.  I liked it way better.  I’d always liked the idea of catching for a lot of reasons.  For one thing, it’s the most physical position.  Somebody’s coming home and you’re standing there waiting for the throw from the field and end up mixing it up.  I got legendary my sophomore year when this girl got caught in a hotbox between home and third and I drilled one right between her shoulders and knocked her off her feet, flat on her face.  That sort of intimidating story is good for you.  Helps you rattle them.  The plate’s right here, bitch; can you get to it?

Also, catcher is the real control position of the team, the leadership post.  Non-players don’t realize that.  They think the pitcher is the big deal. Not at all.  Catchers tell them what to pitch, you know that?  Catchers pull the outfield to the left, motion them in or back for certain batters.  At the tip of the diamond, the only player on the defense that can see the whole thing, from the pitcher’s grip on the ball, to the little tremor in the batter’s wrist that makes you call for something hard and inside, to where the outfielders are standing.  And you’re psyching the batter, playing them, reading them and directing your team to adapt. I just loved it.  And hit over .400 every year, pushing .500 a lot of the time.  (It’s a lot easier to get on in softball than hardball.)

But I was more a media darling in high school, out there with my titties behind the letters and a big blonde ponytail sticking out the back of my cap, strutting around the mound like a little diva.

Bottom line, that’s how I got a college education.  What pissed me off was that was the end of it.  There’s no professional softball or hockey.

There’s a kind of sorta-semi-pro thing.  You get a company that’s really into softball.  Raybestus, for instance.  There’s all sorts of executive sports go on.  Companies rent paintball centers for the day, take the team out to go-kart tracks, play touch football with as many corporate protocol minefields as golf.   I’ve seen quite a bit of that.  And companies that really, really, get ego-involved with tournaments.  Bragging rights at conventions, trophies in the lobbies, badges they wear.  So would they go so far as to hire “ringers” and put them on a salary for just sort of going to meetings and conventions… and knocking in runs in some corporate softball mega-tourney?  What do you think?  I know girls who can barely spell who have good jobs because when it comes to the basketball games, they know how spell D  FEAT.   It’s kind of like a scholarship in real life, in a way.  Longer shelf life, too.  You can play good softball into your forties: the only cutoff is the NCAA, not your body.  I play for a few clubs inL.A.  and can generally just go mow them down.  Maybe if Hustler or Cheetahs or Gents or somebody starts getting all dick-measuring over their bikini teams there’ll be some opportunities there.  I know a couple of girls who were smart enough to use the job to get good at sales (and being a star in some biochemical or junkbond league helps you be a sales stud, I might add)  and won’t have to worry about getting laid off if they tear their ACL or some such.

I don’t know how interested people are in the sports side of my never-ending story, but there’s more to tell.  Let me know if you want to hear it.