Addicted to number 11

Sunday, August 23, 2015

If you don’t have a thing for numbers,  this blog may not be for you. But may be there is someone in your life that is obsessed and perhaps compulsive about a particular number.  I wouldn’t begin to profess that this blog will help you understand, but it would be a neat idea to think my words influenced anyone. Isn’t that the purpose of writing?

Most of my sports buddies have their favorite number. I can’t tell you a single solitary name and number; but that just  shows how much I really pay  attention.  Throughout my athletic career, and I use that phrase so carefully, I was rather lucky that I was one of the only one driven to number Eleven. I used to believe that I was so good at that particular sport, players with number eleven would give it up just to have me on the team. It’s fascinating on how well I can put a spin on things in my life to give myself a boost in self-confidence. False notions have gone a long way. Sometimes I think that sports has been the only avenue for me to exhibit success. If that image was taken away, I’d be holding to not a sliver, though I could use the word literally and figuratively. I hate slivers.

Hockey introduced me to organized sports. Playing whiffle ball with Jon and Jed Cliftons or 500 in a neighbors field wasnt the same, though in Wiffleball, we did create game shirts with numbers. I have no clue what number I wore. I got tossed from Jon’s life when I was about ten because somewhere along the line, he learned that he couldn’t play with girls.

Ah, no wonder I came into hockey with such an anger. I loved baseball as a kid, but girls weren’t allowed to play. This ticked me off. It ticked me off that three for four times a year I’d have to fight with my mother on why I couldn’t stand wearing dresses. I was an extreme challenge. There were many reasons why my sister Barbara nicknamed me Monster, and there were many more on why the nickname lasted until I got to college, though there are times, I’m sure she still calls me Monster.

I have to go off on a tangent that I least expected. I’ve probably written this story before, perhaps even more than once, but it’s worth it.

Barbara is the years older than I. If I were four or five, this would put her in the bratty category, so I’m sticking with that date. She taught me to spell Susan, “Monster.” I practiced long and hard, and was so proud of myself when I showed my mom. I don’t know how long Barbara was grounded. Maybe she wasn’t. I don’t recall her getting into much trouble, but then again, that’s another tangent altogether. Somehow I do need to weave my way back to numbers.

Numbers of temper tantrums? I’ll bite. I don’t know why, but I almost came out of the womb angry. I don’t know if I started the terrible twos early, but I extended them for quite a few years. I am pleased to say that I’ve been practically temper-tantrumless in years. At least that’s what I tell myself. Remember there’s that false ego that I have to protect.

I pitched a lot of fits when I was a child. My sisters would all say it was because I was spoiled. No arguments here. I was the baby. There would be no more attempts at having a boy. I was the closest thing. In the olden days of science, they used to think that what a mother thought influenced the baby. For many years, they blamed the mother for her thoughts and it caused childhood schizophrenia and autism. I read that in textbooks a zillion years ago at Northeastern University, one of the pioneers of autism awareness research.

I don’t know how much my mom was drinking during my gestation. Maybe my premature birth was my saying that I had to get out of the pickle factory. But I have no testimony to say whether I am making this up. It’s the story I have told myself to many years.

Who knows maybe I was angry in a previous life and the temperament just carried over, but angry I was, and everything about my life and being female made me angrier. What do you mean we get paid less? What do you mean we didn’t get the vote until 1920. What do you mean I can’t go to school unless I wear a dress. How come my cousins could wear a polo shirt and slacks and be told how handsome they looked in their clothes, while I was squeezed into a dreadful dress and horrible shoes.

I was a volcano ready to blow, and yet I was graced with more tests. Take an angry girl, and just when school and relationships got more complicating, and take her mother away. A healthy secure twelve-year would have been staggered by the blow, but it was important that this was in the cards for my life.

Doesn’t look like I’m going to go back to talking about numbers. I’ll have to use that for another blog.

Terry_O'Reilly_78-79And take an angry girl, one really pissed at everyone including God and give that person a weapon. Give that person an opportunity to check and fight and they were just excuses. Terry O’Brien, and I am wondering if that’s not the write name….Terry O’Keefe. Terry O’Reilly. He was one of the best “enforcers” on the ice, and I wanted to be like him. Mostly I just wanted to be able to lash out at the world and scream that “it’s not fair.” In my last classroom, my only classroom, I had a sign up, “Rule number one: Life’s not fair; get used to it.”

At least in hockey, I had an excuse for not being the best; I spent most of my playing time in the penalty box. I was a feisty little thing. Take an already angry girl, take her mother away, a mother that was spoiling her rotten, and then throw hormones into the picture. I was a weapon of mass destruction. I think the United States is crazy to not let women into combat positions. There are a lot of WMP’s.

Maybe I’ll make it back to my adoration of the number eleven.  It’s not because of Jack Biona. When he wore number 11 in a Boston Bruins uniform, my all-time favorite team, they called the blouse a sweater.

It’s too bad it wasn’t P.J. Axelsson; that’s a really cool hockey name. It was his destiny. He was born at the peak of my love for hockey, the 1970s.

It would have been sort of ironical, if my influence was something Quackenbush, but he played before I was born.

Perhaps I have been barking up the wrong tree. There was more to my sports world than the Boston Bruins; there were the Boston Red Sox, which was probably my first love. And since I’m in the mood for tangents, I have to insert this quote:

“The difference between the old ballplayer and the new ballplayer is the jersey. The old ballplayer cared about the name on the front. The new ballplayers cares about the name on the back.” – Steve Garvey (Jonathan Fraser Light, The Cultural Encyclopedia of Baseball, ‘Uniforms’, Page 979)

Terry O’Reilly’s number 24 influenced me. I always used 24 to create bank pin numbers. I’m way beyond that now, so don’t even bother trying. In the baseball world, number 27 was important to me because of Roger Clemens. My idol. And then he jumped ship, and the idolness I saddled him with went with him. Chances are great, but I’m sure if someone offered me x amount of more money to change teams, I’d go for it. Any team, but the Yankees. I’ll probably never excuse what’s his face who went from the Red Sox to the Yankee, and an Oregon boy at that. Jacoby Ellerson. I almost forgot his name; the healing is working.

It would be so fitting if my love for the number eleven came from Bobby Doer. Speaking of Oregon boy; Bobby lives down the road from me, so to speak, in a small town called Junction City. Here’s what he has to say about baseball. He’s the oldest member of the Hall-of-Fame: Maybe my mom or dad were Bobby Doerr fans as they were the right age when Doerr played.

“There is a lot of luck in baseball, and what is luck? Luck is really just a lot of practice and a lot of work. I think it goes back to bouncing the ball off the steps a jillion times and my God, preety soon you have to get pretty good.” – Bobby Doerr

Darn it, I ought to retract all of what I wrote about Bobby because he wore number 1 from 1938 to 1951, though there were other guys who wore that number. I’m keeping the stuff in here just because of the Oregon connection.

I struck out. I have no idea what drew me like a moth to a flame to number eleven. I love the number eleven. I don’t remember liking a number like this one.

In my ways, hockey was my savior. Did you know that Ice hockey is the only hockey that doesn’t require an adjective. Hockey is ice hockey. Everything else, like field hockey needs the adjective. I’m just slightly biased as I hate field hockey. You have to wear kilts to play lacrosse. When I did finally get into lacrosse, I think I mostly picked the goal position because we didn’t have to wear a kilt. I also don’t remember having a number back when I played lacrosse, though that was an extreme short love affair. I almost started to like it more than hockey; I definitely liked it more than soccer.

Hockey saved my life and probably saved my dad’s sanity. Without my mom being able to watch over me,  my dad was desperate to get me involved into something so he didn’t have to.  I didn’t want to learn piano or how to sew or become a better student. There weren’t many options for girls and women.  Girls could play little league baseball.  Of course,  the year that that the desegregation rule went into effect,  I was too old to play. Yams. That’s what I used to yell when frustrated. I didn’t much particularly care for Yams, though eating soap is much worse than eating Yams. With enough butter, any food can taste just like it were butter, but not even a pound of butter could make the taste of soap any better.

Liver was the thing that took more layers of other tastes to cover up the taste of beef liver. Grilled onions and garlic a must. Ketchup, Mayonnaise. I don’t recall putting Lawry’s salt, though Garlic salt sounds reasonable.

I didn’t realize at the time that sports would become my coverup  for life, especially school. I loved school throughout elementary school, but junior high school took a lot out of my soul;  throw my mom’s death into the crux of things, and it was just a matter until I blew.

Amy Craft’s and I were Weston, Massachusetts, classmates. I lived in this small bedroom society from day one. I don’t know if Amy’s situation was the same.  Fred Crafts, Amy’s dad, used to give my dad legal advice. Amy and I could not have been more polar opposites. She was athletic and played almost every sport.  I don’t think there was a sport she didn’t excel in, though gymnastics would have been a hoot to watch.  It’s more than probably that Amy Crafts was was better at Modern Rhythmic Gymnastics than I. Ball, hoop, or rope. How hard could it actually be? Pick out a good song. Create a layout that had all the right moves, that the music and my body were in sync. That still doesn’t sound that hard.

Putting  me in a leotard was the largest Obstacle for me to go around. I would have had an easier time if I were swirling a streamer while naked;  But it looks just like a bathing suit, How hard can that be? I remember being petrified me, sick to stomach nervous.  I despised the gymnastics class so much that I knew I was going to fail it, and I needed a lot of it. I kept putting off the final performance until the last possible day. Each day cost me a grade. Some teachers weren’t coming back for the second semester, though there’s no recollection as to where they were going.

Amy Crafts was also brilliants. I think she graduated second in my class, and I probably graduated second from the bottom. I don’t know if she worked at school or it just came naturally. For me, it didn’t come naturally, and I didn’t even try. But Amy and I became good friends. It was hard to play for a town that typically is one of Weston Rivals, but it would be a long time before Weston would have girls’ hockey team. I wouldn’t be surprised if they never have had one.

I never did finish my story about Modern Rhythmic Gymnastics. Not knowing what was going to happen to the women’s hockey program at Ithaca or at least my part of the program. Failing grades in any class, even the meaningless ones,  I knew that I’d have to be hit it out of the park. The performance that is. I just had to do it in front of someone, so I chickened out every day until classes were over, and I just had to face the teacher and not the jury of my peers.. My angels must have talked and decided to take the day off on the day of my performance.  Phil Collins had a great band, Genesis. Dance on a volcano was the song. I probably was under the influence of something when I laced up my whatever you wear for mat work, put the music on, just danced my heart away. I had fun until I saw the F on the report card. What did I expect when this was supposed to be my final on how much I had been paying attention in class. There wasn’t a paper test. What did I expect when I didn’t practice. I don’t even think I had drawn out the routine that I was supposed to be in sync with. What did I expect when I got wrapped up in my ribbon. Merry Christmas to who knows.

That F and the others were enough for my dad to decide that Ithaca wasn’t the place for me. I could go on in different problems this caused, but enough of the tangents. I started this blog three days ago and it’s time to get something up. My fan is clamoring for more, right Bex?

I suppose if I compare Field hockey to Modern Rhythmic Gymnastics, Field hockey would rise to the top of the least, well at least in from of Modern Rhythmic Gymnastics. Gymnastics, regular traditional gymnastics weren’t so bad. I was probably in the best shape of my life after those classes, though my fear of heights caused problems with the balance beam. Yes, I know it’s not that high, but I have never had very good balance. That’s why I like sports that applause you when you run into people and throw your body in front of the missile to keep from scoring. Meanwhile, my internal bomb is ticking…

Even with MRG making Field hockey look a lot better, I’d still have to say that Field hockey is stupid. I hate to step on toes, but hockey is so much better on the ice than on the field. I think it’s idiotic that you can’t touch the ball with both sides of the stick. All of those nonsensical penalties slowed the game way too much. Who  created that silly little stick that makes you bend down and that has a round side and a flat side. Oh, and you can’t let that hard rubber ball go between your legs. I don’t want anything going between my legs while wearing a ridiculous kilt that field hockey and lacrosse players are required to wear. Or used to in my days. You’re going to wear shorts underneath, so what’s the point? As I was doing research for this blog, one of my favorite parts of writing, I came across a quaint little place in Birtley, Gateshead, United Kingdom. Got the Country part. Is Gateshead a county or something and Birtley the city or town? And wouldn’t a more English kind of thing would be a tea shop rather than coffee? Maybe the name: No. 11 Tea Shop was already

No. 11cafe_n taken. According to TripAdviser, there’s a lovely little tea house called No. 11 Tea, though I don’t know if it’s the same as the No 11 Team Rooms in Worsthorne; when I first read that address, I thought it said Worsthome. According to Ken Stott, “It’s really good, you can have sandwiches, soup, ploughmans etc. very good food and great value… . Now I’m wondering what a ploughman is. Next time we go to Europe, I plan on doing more research about the food; I learned quickly that England’s English is a differenPloughmant language than the U.S. version. There were things that I ate that I didn’t know what I was eating. Maybe I did eat a ploughman and didn’t even notice it.

Back to number 11. Obviously my ADD meds aren’t keeping me on the same track today. I’ll just go with the flow and have a whatever comes my way kind of day. It’s a great day for the silly little Words With Friends game.
20150819_130539#1I don’t know if I was given a choice of numbers when I joined the Waltham Angels, which shortly after changed to Waltham Wings, and I asked for number or that’s the number that randomly was chosen. I fell in love with number 11. Until this year, I wore number eleven on all of my softball teams. I’m no longer one of the best players on the team, and the other number eleven is a far superior, and far younger player than I am. To be in compliance with the Eugene Parks and Rec. softball rules, I do add another one to my nubasics_score_numbersmber to be a 111. I am not sure why it even matters. For a scorer, they use numbers of who is on the field. Momentarily I lost confidence in my memory of what positions got what number. I knew pitcher was number one and I was almost positive that the catcher was number two, and after looking at this chart, I confirmed that I was right. I always attempt to keep score with the numbers, but I don’t think I have made it through all nine innings, and whoever came to the game with me quickly tired of me asking. What number fielded the ball, and not the number they were wearing on their back.

luis-aparicioIn my quest to find out more about the first Red Sox player with the number eleven that could have influenced my life was Luis Aparicio. The only Luis I remember from early Red Sox days, early for me, was Luis Tiant, but this Luis Aparicio that played shortstop for the Red Sox was still formidable even though he was on the sundown of his career. Slowly fading into the background, but this player that was told that he could never be a professional short stop since he was too small. I think it was a Cleveland Indians manager that made that prediction. Funny, the Chicago White Sox took a gamble, and Aparicio went on toe win Rookie of the year and followed that with nine Gold Gloves. This hall-of-famer will never be forgotten for all of the things he was able to do on the field. Perhaps this is where Dustin Pedroia got his tenacity to prove those naysayers wrong. I’m similar. Just tell me that I can’t do something, and chances of my wanting to do it increases exponentially.

People mean well when they say I can’t do something because of something to do with my height or build. In my prime when I was 5’4″ and weighed 120, sometimes less, I was told that I was too small to be a police officer. My ex, Phyllis, was a shoe-in. add four inches to my height and ninety pounds, and this Massachusetts State Trooper makes her presence felt when she walks into the room, especially when she’s got the mohawk thing going. I suppose now with thirty years of service, she’s not driving aimlessly along rte.1, but comfortable sitting behind a desk singing the song, “The Old Grey Mare ain’t what she Used to be.” A song that she sang to her mom thirty-something years ago when I moved to Eugene to help me make a break for it. I’ve not had that many experiences of breaking off a  relationship. Current one, and hopefully the only one for this lifetime, is going on 28 years. So close to being twice my age.

I’ve got six minutes until I see 11:11 and for that one fragment of time, I’ll think that I am in the right place at the right time.

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2 comments

  1. Did you mean to type “Jacoby Ellsbury” instead of “Jacoby Ellerson” ?

    This entry was one for the books! I had to take a break several times just to make it through it! I hope you got your quota for words written for last week!

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