The Girl Who Can’t Play Ball

How a simple request to throw a ball turned into a moment of profound mortification

The Girl Who Can't Play BallPhotographed by Erin Patrice O'Brien
Dear Guys Who Kicked the Soccer Ball over the Fence and Asked Me to Toss It Back to Them, Thus Scarring Me for Life,

I’d like to talk to you about the two minutes of sheer humiliation you subjected me to last night. Let me first refresh your memory: You, a group of fit, young men, were playing soccer on the AstroTurf field across from my apartment building. I, a better-than-average-looking young woman, was walking by with my groceries, whining silently to myself about the pain the half gallon of milk was causing my nonexistent arm muscles. That’s when your ball came flying over the fence and landed at my feet. One of you approached and asked politely if I would toss the ball back to you. Fighting the urge to flee screaming down the street, I agreed.

Before I continue, let me shed light on something that I didn’t have a chance to mention last night: I hate sports. More specifically, I hate baseball, soccer, Ping-Pong, Quidditch—anything with a ball. This stems from my lack of natural ability when it comes to throwing, catching, and hitting. I’m bad at aiming, too, and also general hand-eye coordination.

However, wanting to appear agreeable, I put my bags down, picked up the ball, and, grimacing, eyes half shut, threw it as hard as I could.

It hit the middle of the fence and bounced back to me.

Trying to act nonchalantly, I chuckled and muttered something about being out of practice, then picked up the ball again. If you’ll recall, at your behest, I agreed to try throwing underhand. I thrust the ball upward with all my might, at first thankful that your anticipatory applause stifled my involuntary grunt, then horrified by what happened next.

The ball hit slightly higher up on the fence and bounced back to me.

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