You pull your polyester pants up to your bony rib cage.
You tuck your blue shirt down to your skinny thighs.
And you yank your dark socks all the way past your knobby, funny-looking, lily-white knees.
Clearly, you could use some help dressing yourself, because you look like an 83-year-old retired used car salesman. From Scranton.
But you're a Texas Ranger. A Glenford-Ohio-Spurgeon-
"I'm ready!" you yell.
The hell you are, son.
"Monkey - come here. Let me fix those pants," I say, wrangling your uniform. "Why'd you wear the dirty ones? I washed the other pair! And where are your spikes?"
I get a shrug, an "I don't know, Moth-errr!" and 2.5 minutes of unrepentant wriggling. Then you scramble around, locating your balls haha, bag double haha, shoes and Gatorade before we rush out the door to the car.
When we get to the baseball diamond, you run to the dugout. I climb the steps and park myself alongside several other 30- and 40-something females, my fellow Texas Ranger mommies, and - glancing around at all of us - I decide we look pretty good. We definitely do NOT have the, how you say, "Middle Age Spread."
No, we have Bleacher Butt.
Indeed, the circumference of our behinds and thighs relate directly to the amount of hours, nay, years our rear-ends and gams have spent on these metal stands. The dimples, the dents on our legs? Not cellulite and not fat - merely the imprint of seats surely designed by Satan. Yes, modern metal bleachers are uncomfortable, backless, torturous affairs, hotter than the core of the sun in spring/summer, colder than a polar bear pecker in fall/winter.
It's 91 degrees and humid this evening, so I eyeball another woman's Flavor-Ice popsicle, and - since it's also Friday - I tell her that it would taste much better with a shot of coconut rum poured in its little tube. Then all the moms launch into an elaborate scheme to sneak various forms of alcohol into the next Friday night game. We're kidding, of course. Kind of. Not really.
Mothers of the Year, that's us.
The prospect of hooch-smuggling really gets us going. Like a bunch of clucking hens, we start several conversations at once, discussing cocktail recipes, coupons and the Target clearance rack. I like cocktails. I like coupons. I like the Target clearance rack. So my mouth is flapping at full speed, giving the girls the benefit of my vast expertise on these topics, and then all of a sudden . . .
. . . you're up at bat.
Got your dirty pants pulled up to your rib cage, your shirt tucked down to your skinny thighs, and your socks yanked up to your knobby knees. Again.
I barely notice, though, because my heart begins to throb in my throat, my hands grow clammy and I focus on you like a laser.
"Keep your eye on the ball, Levi, just like we practiced!" I yell.
You're thrilled to hear my advice. It elicits an annoyed sideways glance, but you don't change your stance. Your eyes are on the ball. Like we practiced.
You wait. You watch it go by.
"Ball one!" says the ump.
The other moms shout "Good eye, Levi!" and continue their cocktail/coupon/Target chatter. Not me. Beads of sweat form on my forehead. I clench all major muscle groups, up to and including my Bleacher Butt.
Tell me: Where is the coconut rum when you need it?
He pitches again.
"That's alright - good swing, Levi!" yell the mothers, turning back to their conversations. Look at them. They don't have a care in the world, these other Glenford-Ohio-Spurgeon-Financial-Services-
There I sit. More sweat. More clench. No rum.
You wait. Eye on the ball. He pitches.
Crap. I rub my face, lean forward and put my elbows on my legs. I can feel my blood pressure rising higher, faster. You step back, take some practice swings, return to the plate.
The baseball flies up, bounces twice, then rolls 15 feet or so past second base, to the outfield.
"Run, Levi!" holler the moms.
Now my eyes bulge and throb to the beat of the pulse in my temple, and I yell with all my might, as if it will help, as if it will get you there faster.
Outfielders scramble for the ball, while you pitch forward with the flapping arms and loopy gait that your sister loves to mock. The center-fielder lobs the ball to the second baseman, he catches, turns and throws it to first and . . .
Your foot lands.
I un-clench. Everything.
You made it. Barely. You overrun the base and circle back to crouch at first. Dirty pants pulled up to your rib cage. Shirt tucked down to your thighs. Socks yanked to your knobby knees.
Son, I tell you what: You can't dress yourself worth a shit.
But you're doing alright in baseball, improving all the time. I can tell you'll be a pretty decent player someday. Or a damn fine retired used-car salesmen. From Scranton.
Next batter up, and thankfully it's some other Texas Ranger mom's turn in the hot seat, although you're not out of the woods yet. Still have three more bases to round to get home.
And so I re-clench. Everything. My pulse picks up, my eyes throb and my temples ache. I sincerely hope that - somewhere inside the concession stand - there's a defibrillator.
Or at least a bottle of coconut rum.