“Baseball Glove” by Dianne Klammer
When I was young I believed I would keep the same friends forever.
My very first friend was a boy named Charlie. Charlie lived across the street in one of the better kept track houses that we all owned. Charlie’s family had dichondra while most of us had crabgrass. Dichondra is fancy one leaf round grass that looks like moss and requires a lot of maintenance.
As toddlers, Charlie and I were ignorant of the natural segregation of the sexes in friendship that usually happens as children grow older. . I regarded him as a friend and a brother since my sister was so much older than me, as was his brother than him, and there were no other kids in the neighborhood.
Charlie’s family was Hungarian and my mother came from South America. My dark brown hair and eyes contrasted with his blue eyed blond haired looks. He was two years older, but somewhat passive, and was content to play with a girl. We rode our bikes and skateboards and played with cowboys and Indians, which were gender neutral, and other board games and cards. As we grew older, we kept redefining our relationship.
In a few years more children moved into the neighborhood and joined our playing circle. Most of them were girls. Sally, the oldest on the block disliked me because my sister was friends with hers and would leave her out, trying to coax her to play with me. Since I was fours younger than she was, she regarded playing with me as an insult and was determined to get even with me. Later I learned that girls, unlike boys, do not always express aggression directly with hitting, although they do that as well. They are more subtle, taking their time to see what will hurt the most, socially ostracizing, lying, verbally abusing and using power to turn other friends against their enemies. Like skilled torturers, they have their tools laid out on the table, sharp and shiny, and take their time using them. Sally was a bully and a queen bee, and being the oldest, had no trouble manipulating the rest of the group.
If Sally had a slumber party, we played together until evening. Then she would announce to the others that I was not invited. Once she convinced everyone to tie me to a tree, threatening to burn me up, naming this game “Tie her up and burn her”. I played with them less as a group although I saw them one on one. When a new kid Cindy moved to the block, I befriended her since they were mean to her in the beginning, and the two of us played by ourselves without trouble. I also played with Charlie, except that he was beginning to realize that it was less cool to play with girls than with boys.
When I was eleven, something happened which changed my relationship with Charlie forever At that time, Sally was fifteen, Cindy ,Charlie, Cheri and Ann were thirteen and Ann’s brother Jim was fourteen.. I came outside that day and found Charlie alone holding a catcher’s mitt and a ball. He asked me if I wanted to play catch and I said “Sure.” Instead of tossing me the ball as he usually did, he threw it with so much force and hatred that I was completely stunned. He was holding an egg which broke on my stomach, getting my blouse all wet and slimy. If it actually was a hardball, it would have seriously injured me. All the others came out from behind bushes and started laughing and pointing at me. A lot more was broken in that moment than an egg and the dam behind my eyes that held back my tears. Crying, I asked for a towel, but didn’t get one so I went home. Normally it was my mother that took care of these issues, but this time my father was home.
Later my father went over to speak to Charlie’s father. I don’t know what took place, but dad asked me not to play outside for awhile. I had friends from school to invite over, and once in a while one of the other girls except Sally would visit me separately. The event with the egg happened in the summertime. At Christmas Charlie was still mad enough to break a couple of our Christmas lights. I didn’t play with him anymore. Eventually I went back outside and played with the girls.
It must have been two years later when my dad showed me a catcher’s mitt and asked me if it fit me. It looked worn, and I wondered if he had bought it for me, used, before I was born, hoping I would be a boy. I told him it fit and he said I could keep it. My dad and I didn’t talk much. He had a science engineering personality, very smart but quiet. I didn’t ask where it came from and took it across the street where Charlie was playing. He saw it and became upset. “That’s my glove,” he told me.“Well, you can have it,” I said. “It doesn’t fit anymore,” He said. “It fits me,” I said, even more confused. “Did my dad take it?” Charlie just looked at me a moment and then asked if I wanted to play catch, and went in to get a bat. After that we started playing again in a guarded way. He was, after all, still like a brother.
It took me some time to realize that my father took his glove to prove Charlie was bigger than me and that you don’t pick on somebody littler than you. Charlie must have given him some kind of argument. My dad, ever the mathematician, evidently knew how to teach a lesson. To this day I don’t clearly remember speaking to my dad about the specifics. Much later, I gave the glove to my son who understands the meaning of kindness.
Copyright © 2011 Dianne Klammer
Diane Klammer, is a wife, mother, naturalist and retired Counseling Psychologist, who started writing seriously about five years ago. Her poetry has been published in Tattoo Highway, Pirene’s Fountain, Heavybear, Midwifery Today, Rattle and elsewhere. Her Fiction is in Fast Forward Mix Tape Edition. Diane’s first book, “Shooting The Moon”, was published by Monkey Puzzle Press in October of 2009.
“I still feel like a new writer, constantly editing, changing and trying to write one word at a time. We must learn not to wallow in the nadir of self criticism or in the zenith of conceit concerning our work, but remain on the level horizon where we can be at our best.”
posted by Paragon Dream
Tags: aggression, baseball glove, bee, bikes, board games, bully, charlie charlie, cowboys and indians, dad, dark brown hair, Dianne Klammer, dichondra, egg, enemies, everyone, family, friendship, gender, Glove, ignorant, insult, kid, klammer, leaf, mitt, moss, neighborhood, party, power, queen bee, round, segregation, sexes, skateboards, South America, street, time, toddlers, torturers, tree
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