The Girl Who Can’t Play Ball

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

By Jen Cordery (originally on mcsweeneys.net) from Reader's Digest magazine | April 2012

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.

  • Your Comments

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/3WGATOKMP5XPIDIWUDOOBSEQBQ Q

      People here with negative comments don’t have a sense of humor. The article was meant to be funny which it is. I really loved it. I read it in the paper version of RD and I wanted to find out who the author is so I did a search and here I am. Great job, 10/10.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/3WGATOKMP5XPIDIWUDOOBSEQBQ Q

      People here with negative comments don’t have a sense of humor. The article was meant to be funny which it is. I really loved it. I read it in the paper version of RD and I wanted to find out who the author is so I did a search and here I am. Great job, 10/10.

    • Tommclaughlin

      Wow Jen, it seemed like a reasonable request, one most 7 year old girls can handle, they just wanted to keep the game going. It sounds like your gym teacher failed, although from your generation I’m sure you didn’t. You probably got a participation medal and stayed on the honor role. Maybe it’s time you bucked up, put down your I Pad for a half hour a day and worked out. Then maybe you wouldn’t have to rely on your “better than average looks” to get you by and you wouldn’t struggle with “1/2 gallon of milk”. Good Luck.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/3WGATOKMP5XPIDIWUDOOBSEQBQ Q

        Tom, it was meant to be a FUNNY writeup (which it is, I loved it). Use your head if you have one. I’m a guy.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/3WGATOKMP5XPIDIWUDOOBSEQBQ Q

        Tom, it was meant to be a FUNNY writeup (which it is, I loved it). Use your head if you have one. I’m a guy.

    • LOVE-SPORTS

      IF I WERE YOU , I WOULD HAVE ASKED TO KEEP THE BALL , PRACTICE SOME MORE, SOME DAY AND IMPRESS THE TEAM SOME OTHER DAY WITH THEIR BALL BACK, SCORE.

    • LOVE-SPORTS

      IF I WERE YOU , I WOULD HAVE ASKED TO KEEP THE BALL , PRACTICE SOME MORE, SOME DAY AND IMPRESS THE TEAM SOME OTHER DAY WITH THEIR BALL BACK, SCORE.

    • Nberdan

      This is not funny.  It brought back all the painful gym memories of my past. Volley ball was the worst.  Please don’t make fun of us ball challenged people.

    • Turkishteapot

      I was always picked last in gym and unable to figure out which of four teams were stuck with me. I stood in outfield between two softball games–at least if the ball came my way I could turn around and join the other game, the same if the inning changed. I spent whole gym periods standing in outfield, waiting for class to be over. I have actually hit a baseball in my life–because friends were throwing it at my bat.

      I do play dodge ball–you play baseball, I play dodgeball, You play volleyball, I play dodge ball, you  play tennis, I play dodge ball, you get it, I play dodge ball.

      In kindergarten, we tell children to share: “You’ve been playing with the ball long enough, you should give Johnny a turn. Later we give one ball to a bunch of men and tell them to fight. Go figure.

    • Dianekashlak

      Stop being a people pleaser.

    • Hackleyj

      Wow is that so terrible, honestly?? again, wow!

    • HisChild246

      I might add they could have at least said a sorry when you were struck instead of just worrying about getting the stupid ball back.