If you would've known me in high school, you would have known that there was one thing I wanted above all else, and that thing was a boyfriend who played a sport. It could've been soccer, it could've been baseball, it could've been hockey. There was just something in me that wanted to be the girl who sat faithfully on the sidelines with her blanket and her steaming thermos of cocoa and her snacks. I would've been the girl with the good snacks, and I would've been cheering loudly whenever my boyfriend did something particularly god-like.
I never got that, though. I didn't get a boyfriend until my senior year, and by then he was long out of high school (where he'd been a swimmer) and college (where he'd been a professional drinker and an official drop-out with a 1.97 GPA).
College didn't get me any closer. Grad school eeked me nearish, but not much. The Wily Republican had hockey in his past and broomball when he knew me. And while I wished and wished and wished that somehow the WR would magically appear on a hockey team that I could go watch, that didn't happen. So I resigned myself to the occasional broomball game.
I went twice. Those two times were the only times his team lost. Ever. I never witnessed a triumphant moment of victory. I only got to see him slink sweatily back to the bench and take off his pads.
I've always suspected I'm a bad luck charm. I've always suspected that if I had somehow snagged a sporty boyfriend in high school or college he would've eventually told me to please, for the love of God, stop coming to his games because I carried a black cloud of sports doom over my head. I suspect this black cloud of sports doom is related to my black cloud of prize-winning doom or my black cloud of finding clearance shoes in my size at Target doom.
Today I went to watch Josh's final soccer game of the summer season. I sat on the sidelines and watched girls come and go with their sequined tank tops, their giant sunglasses, their gaucho pants. I watched them toss their curly hair when their boyfriends did something good.
They were happy. Their smiles were white and glinting. They were the girls I wanted to be in high school, in college, and--let's be honest--still today. But even if I wasn't a girlfriend, at least I was there and I was crossing my fingers and I was letting out little puffs of excited air whenever Josh's team would score. I was thinking, Hey, maybe this will end the cloud of doom. I was also thinking that I have a fondness for men who wear soccer socks.
How can you not? Those socks are ridiculous in length and stripe-age, but any boy who plays soccer manages to pull those off in some sort of strong and manly way.
Just as I was recognizing my love of the soccer socks and then remembering the time Josh and I went for ice cream after one of his games and he showed up wearing pink soccer socks (now that takes a strong man), that's when the other team scored. And scored again. And then, in the closing seconds, scored one last time to surmount the tie that had been holding out for an overtime.
Black cloud of sports doom. It follows me. It trails after me like some stray puppy, and it won't be satisfied until it ruins all potential for me to see my boys celebrate in a sloppy, cute, boyish moment of victory.
Even though they lost, it was good to watch. I like soccer. I really do. And then it gives me an excuse to do this to a picture of Josh:
Coincidentally, that picture was taken by the girl who will probably end up being Josh's girlfriend--a girl who is cute and has excellent hair and who is definitely not me. I'm sure she will shortly join the ranks of girls with snacks and thermoses of cocoa (or, in the summer, lemonade), and maybe on that day she will wave to me from her prime position on the sidelines. And I'll be in my far off place down the way, standing with the rest of the girls who just know of, are neighbors to, or used to work with someone on the team.
But maybe this is all wrapped up in karma. Maybe the next year will find me meeting, falling in love with, and cheering for some rugby or football player. And if that happens, you can be absolutely certain that I will be the one on the sidelines with the best, best, best snacks.