When we bought this house, it came with it's own stick, a big one. At the top of the stick is a net for playing netball. I thought it was a bit of an eyesore myself, so I grew Morning Glory all over it as a disguise. This act did not endear me with the neighbours for some unaccountable reason. I was advised by those same neighbours, that the stick was meant for playing the popular game of baseball and that I should restrict my gardening activities to other areas of the yard. I was at a bit of a loss to know where the yard was, but I didn't let that worry me unduly. But I digress.
Pal is very keen to play this sport with my son. We spend a considerable amount of time hunting down a ball. Pal informs me that our balls do not meet the required American standard. I am slightly deflated by his criticism but promise to seek out a bicycle pump to remedy this fault, prior to his next visit.
Pal attempts to dribble the ball. Instead it makes farting noises across the driveway. My boys find the flatulence of the ball to be an added bonus. [translation = hilarity] Pal is not impressed with either the ball or the guffawing laughter. [translation = foreigners fail to take sport seriously] I don't really care one way or another. [translation = my boys are outside, a thoroughly loathed status at the best of times] My youngest son will not play at all. [translation = he must be the best and or win ]
Pal becomes teacher. [translation = coach, but not the vehicle kind] He shouts orders in an upbeat manner. [translation = sounds pretty professional to me, but what would I know, since I am unable to locate a sports channel on the telly] Junior takes part tentatively.
As an experience netball player myself, I can tell that he has great form. [translation = English game] Pal offers his opinion, “no, not like that! You play like a girl!”
I am confused by the comment. Netball is a girl's game afterall, ergo, he is playing jolly well.
“Try it like this. Watch me. See! You hold it to your chest like this. No, no, put your hands the other way around. No don't stick yur but out, bend yur knees.”
He does rather look as if he is about to lay an egg. Junior adopts the pose and lobs the ball up into the air. [translation = shoots] The object of the exercise is to get the ball to fall through the ring. The object crashes back down. Junior is incensed that his first attempt [ever] is a failure.
“I bad! I loser! I die,” he bellows.
As he bellows, he bends forward, pulls down his trousers, [translation = shorts] and sticks out his derriere. Pal pauses. [translation = frozen and transfixed at the age of 8] Senior roars with laughter. This behaviour continues for the following ten minutes.
I wonder how many of our neighbours are watching this development, as we cavort around on our driveway with a flat ball, three little boys and a net on a stick. I don't imagine that they would consider this to be progress. Junior exposes his Spiderman underwear approximately 53 times. [translation = which corresponds precisely to the number of attempts he makes to throw the ball through the net]
Later that night I discuss that matter with his father.
“We need a strategy!”
“Which bit should we tackle first?”
“There's more than one strategy here?”
“Yes, the 'anti – trouser' strategy and the 'anit-negative talk' strategy.”
“Ah. Which one is worse?”
“I really don't know.”
“Well the 'anti-negative talk' is already an ongoing campaign, so perhaps we could concentrate on the trousers. An anti-flasher strategy.”
“Well, he didn't really flash [translation = moon] he just displayed his undies.”
“It certainly gets the message across loud and clear.” [translation = universal comprehension]
“No meltdown though.”
“A new form of protest that isn't a meltdown is………good, ……right?”
“Definitely, and he used words AT THE SAME TIME.”
“Wow. We are moving into pastures new.”
“He could probably get away with it in a pasture.” [translation = field]
“Pity we're so urban.”
“You don't suppose he's developing into, into…..a sporty type!”
“Blimey I hope not! What on earth would we do with one of those?”
“Can there be anything worse than giving birth to one of those athletic types?”
“The tragedy of it all. How do parents cope with such a disaster?”
“I can hardly bear to imagine. Too, too sad.”
“There again, you did play rugby.”
“Not by choice. Anyway, you played tennis, netball, badminton, and all those 'throw the thing' sports.” [translation = javelin, discus, shot put]
“It was compulsory.”
“So tell me? Is it more socially acceptable to drop your trousers in England or in the States?”
“I'm afraid I have no terms of reference.”