The finals are upon us. The entire district was converging on the local college and my high school was acting as host, which means we needed volunteers. I had the time and liked watching the runners, so I put my name on the list and said I could help.
What? The shot put?
I told them that I had never helped with Shot. I had done high jump, hurdles, and long jump, but never the shot, but they needed people so they handed me the clip board, a tape measure, and deemed me a "Meet Official", complete with complimentary vest that I had to return at the end of the day.
I crossed the field, walked up the stairs, and surveyed the ring. The longest throws today would be under 40', these were the freshmen, sophomores, and a few lagging juniors. The varsity kids would come tomorrow, so at least I wasn't jeopardizing anyone's chance to get a college scholarship.
"You look lost." she said as she walked up and extended her hand in greeting. She was wearing a sweatshirt that matched mine and I vaguely, recognized her as a team parent from other meets.
"Hello," I replied, "My name is Campbell and I have NO idea what I'm doing."
Her hands were cold as she took mine in hers for a long shake that lingered in a comfortable way, "I'm BC," she said, "and I do know what I'm doing."
Her daughter was a freshman, a cute little thing that appeared out of place with the other girls who, not to be mean, looked a lot more suited for throwing an 8 pound shot put. Lainy couldn't have weighed more than my left leg, her mom could have been the right.
Over the next 4 hours she taught me the ins and outs of running a shot put ring. Protocols for entering and leaving the area, rules on foot placement, and the fine art of corralling over 60 antsy throwers through 8 "flights", three finals, and making sure that all of our measurements were right.
I haven't had that much fun feeling lost in a long time. She was funny and cute, with multi-colored hair and a quick smile, a warm touch, and almost no sense of personal space. I ran my fingers through her hair as we talked about stylists, she grabbed me by the arm to get me out of the way of an errant throw but didn't let go until it became obvious she was just holding on. We both wore wedding rings but it felt like a first date where we were swapping life stories (birth, HS, college, kids, job) and complaints about our kids growing up too fast.
The time was coming where I had to go for another school event and I kept thinking how I could get her e-mail or phone number without it feeling like the beginning of something. My mind failed me and I found no excuse. I handed her the clip board in mock seriousness and told her that I had to go. She gave me the long hug, I inhaled deeply, and left without any way to get in touch again, but a promise to say hello at the team banquet that will soon follow.
My head was spinning a bit as I analyzed the day. Was she flirting, was I being too optimistic, would she, did she, would I, should I?
I got home and gave the wife and kids the recap as we waited for the awards ceremony to start at the school.
"Wait!" my wife exclaimed with the pieces fell in to place. "Are you talking about Betsy Donheim? The one with the freshman daughter?"
"Yes" I said, now wondering just what I had said on the green grass at the edge of the shot put area.
"Oh," she said, "I loved Betsy, she's a PTA mom and we talk all the time." My heart started racing as my wife went on, "We should do dinner with her and Pete."
Maybe I didn't need to get a number after all.
"Yes we should," I said with a strangely bright smile, "Yes we should."