Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Healing Smile

I really, really hate the snow, and the cold, the ticks, the mosquitoes, opening and closing the pool, and even the neighborhood where I live, the neighbors that form against you for whatever reasons secret reasons they have (could it be because I voted for Darth Bush, the creator of terrorism?).

This place kinda grows on you though. Nothing worthwhile comes easy, as they say.

I spend a lot of time around the kids, and it makes me sad to think that someday, every last blame one of them will be crusted over by the time they reach adulthood. Maybe I'm being cynical. The world has a way of doing that to you.

There's a new girl in the office: young, blond, pretty. I've tried to say hi here and there, but when she passes me in the hall, she looks away. She seems a bit unnerved by me. I think, "Do I exude the stalker vibe?"

But after she accompanied me and the guys for a few coffee walks here at the office, she's opened up to me in particular. "Has anyone ever told you," she asked me, "that you are a bit intimidating?"

That sounds a lot like my dad. Mean looking, hard edge, soft creamy center, hard core.

"But then when you smile," she said, "I see that you are OK."

I'm really getting into the rhythm of coaching soccer. At first I was shy. Who wants to listen to me anyway? And where does that negative thinking come from? The same negative thinking turns the corners of my mouth down, and I peer at passersby, as if to say, "Don't fuck with me or you will pay!"

Wow. You would think I'd spent time in prison, or kicked in doors in Baghdad and watched my friends get cut down in routine raids. Is life really all that bad? The answer is, for some, yes, but for an average Joe like me, not even close. But then I think it's precisely because my hackles are up that I don't get eaten by the wolves.

But when I see the faces of those children, the kids who run up and down that field for me on Saturday mornings, I feel like I'm doing something important, and it heals me in a small way.

There are two girls on my team that have never played soccer before. One of them, Caroline, jumped in front of the opposing offense, stole the ball, and dribbled it a quarter of the field, approximately three kicks, before losing it to the last defender. I cheered my head off, ran out and gave her a high five. Previous to that, she was nearly comatose out there. She tasted success, and I let her know I noticed.

You should have seen her smile.


Sean Ferrell said...

Nice post.

Sounds to me like you are exactly the sort of guy who should be coaching soccer. Wish I'd had a coach like you when I was 8. I might have stuck with it longer if I had.

And I too have gotten the "Dude, do you know how intimidating you look?" comment from coworkers. My father once said to me, "What do you think about when you walk down the street?" When I asked why he said, "Because you look really, really angry."

I have tried to keep a smile, if not literally on my face, then at least somewhere in my mind so that it softens up the muscles.

Scott said...

Sean, I know exactly what you mean. I'm glad you understood what I was saying. It's hard to explain that who you are on the outside is not the same as what's going on inside, and that you would like nothing more than to release it. With kids it's totally safe. They absorb it like a sponge, and work really hard if you can keep them focused.

I got a comment from one of the parents that their daughter is now totally in love with soccer.

Oh, and if my Dad ever asked me that, I would probably answer that I'm probably thinking about the same things he's thinking about. It's funny how much like him I am, as much as I try not to be.

Jada's Gigi said...

Not many people ever look past the exterior to see the person inside do they? Kind of sad really...that so many will go through life never really touching others. Your coaching has a chance to put a dent in that for some...acceptance...inclusion...its an illusive commodity as we get older...and you get to taste a little of it as the same time...its a great trade doncha think? :)

Anonymous said...

I have never met you, but when I saw your picture I didn't think you looked intimidating. Then again, how you act around strangers has a large impact. There are some people that go out of their way to introduce themselves and put on a cheery front. Not me, probably not you either. But these are the kinds of people that are less "intimidating". Also the sorts that are more likely to con you, I'd say.

Toni Anderson said...

That is so cute :) I'm feeling guilty b/c we didn't do soccer. But it was soccer or sanity and I chose the flatter (maybe) for this year.

I think people who look intimidating are great. Better than looking like cotton candy and being a b1tch--if you know what I mean.

Toni Anderson said...

LOL. Flatter :)

Alan said...

Is that her there in the pic?

"...I feel like I'm doing something important, and it heals me in a small way."

That right there? Man, that's awesome. I love the way you said that.

Scott said...

Cheryl - Yes, getting older has its advantages. I'm starting to see that now. Being in that in between stage--between being young and fearing getting old, and actually being old--I'm starting to see that it really isn't as bad as it was cracked up to be.

Trevor - Sometimes I see myself in the mirror wearing a scowl, and being a fairly big guy (not huge, just big), coupled with preconceptions, I suppose that's how it happens. I hate it when I'm not seen for the truly wonderful, sharing, giving, altruistic, benevolent man that I want to be taken for. It's a pisser when people see through that. And I used to be Mr. Cheery when people met me, but now I play it a little cooler, letting other people add to the pot before I ante up.

Toni - I hear you about being too cheery. I get suspicious of anyone that is always smiling.

Alan - Appreciate that you liked the line. No, I had to search for that picture. Cute, isn't it?

Michelle said...

I so understand about the intimidation thing. But in my case everybody used to think I was pissed off all the time when in reality I was just thinking hard. On second thought I probably was pissed due to the fact that somebody was making me think. LOL. I never have been good at hiding my emotions.

On the soccer note, what a great sport. My daughter played last year and wants to play this year too. It really got her up and moving and she loved her coach too! He really motivated the team in a positive way. Just think those kids will never forget you. Who knows you could be teaching the next soccer great.


briliantdonkey said...

I used to get a lot of the "I used to think you were mean when I first met you" comments. I still do occasionally but not as often as I used to. I never coached soccer but coached teeball for a number of years. It is a great feeling when all of a sudden to see them 'get it'. Great post


mr. schprock said...

When I first met you, I thought you were going to chop me down right there and then and sell me to the Chinese Mafia.

Just kidding, you're not intimidating. But I wouldn't want to get you angry just the same.

Give yourself a high five for that high five.

Ultra Toast Mosha God said...

If you nees any tips on european style zonal play, or set pieces from corner kicks, don't be afraid to ask.

Scott said...

Michelle - Kinda scary that I would be teaching soccer to the next great. I wonder if I'm just teaching them all the wrong things. I tried to get a really soccer guru to help me, but to no avail. My thinking is, English or Scottish accent, qualified.

Donkey - It makes you a little self-conscious, doesn't it?

Mr. Schprock - Yeah, I don't think people should see me that way either. Maybe it's just a reflection of the beholder.

Toast - Funny, I was just showing the kids how to do corner kicks yesterday. My son can rocket the ball right through the crowd of kids at the goal. Now if I could only get the other kids to put a head on it.

Ultra Toast Mosha God said...

It might also be worth learning short corner plays, where the kicker plays the ball along the ground to a player near the corner of the 18yd box. (S)he can then play it into the six yard box for short range goal action.


Alan said...

My eyes just glazed over.

"Sports...it's what's for breakfast!"

I swear. I'm such a girl.

The Zombieslayer said...

Have fun coaching soccer. I loved playing it, and wish I could find some folks to play here.

You might carry a high stress level. People can sense stressed out folk when they walk by. That might be the vibe the cute blonde got from you.

Kathleen said...

I've been told I'm intimidating many many times. It's actually a little sad (since most times it's related to some guy who won't ask me out). I think things like that make us even more apt to play our cards close to our vest which is kind of like a Catch-22, eh?