Monday, July 02, 2007

Mistaken identity

Colin was asked to substitute for the team my soccer team was playing against on Friday. He was in the building. They were short players. He shrugged his shoulders and pulled a pair of shorts and shin guards out of his car.

When he reached the field, Meg (the goalie for my team) stared venom, fire and nails in his direction.

“I won’t play if he plays,” she announced.

We thought she was joking.

“You know the rule,” she told me. I still thought she was joking.

The rule, which Meg made when we started playing soccer together, is that Colin is not allowed to referee any of our games. Or go to any of our games. To this point, it hadn’t been an issue.

It was an issue on Friday.

Colin went onto the field. “If she’s really serious,” he told me, “I won’t play.” I assured him that she couldn’t possibly be, especially since he wasn’t playing goalie (his primary position) and said that he wouldn’t shoot on her (just to be nice).

Colin got onto the field and played maybe five minutes. Colin broke the rule he made and took a shot on Meg (which she saved) a minute or so after he started playing. Meg glared at me, and then at Colin, as though she wished we were dead.

When I saw Colin go to his team’s bench, I went to mine. I pulled him aside, apologizing profusely. “I don’t think you should play anymore. She has...this thing...a block. She thinks she can’t play when you’re around.”

It wasn’t a big deal, Colin assured me. He left graciously.

Meg didn’t talk to me the rest of the game. She ignored me on the ride home. She was sullen and pouty at dinner. My dad asked her – at least 10 times – what was wrong. She refused to budge.

The truth came out later. Dad cornered her in the living room.

There was a reason that she didn’t want Colin to referee her games. He would see that she wasn’t as good as she had been and he would say something to her.
It was the same with him playing against her. And he said he wouldn’t shoot and – what did he do? – he shot the ball.
She doesn’t like not being as good as she once was. Colin, who was her coach at soccer camp and who refereed when she was at her peak, magnifies her self-consciousness.

Colin wouldn’t say anything to Meg, I grumbled to my dad later. Colin doesn’t care how good or not good Meg is.

My dad disagreed.

He thinks Colin is That Guy, a cocky asshole who points out former glories and mistakes and shortcomings.

Let me pause to clear something up here: he’s not. Especially not to Meg.

When I heard Meg and when my dad disagreed with my assessment of the situation, I was exceptionally sad. Colin has undesirable traits, but he is not the person they painted him to be.

He adores Meg. He liked her long before I came into the picture.

When Colin and I text messaged on Friday night, I merely apologized for her behavior. I skipped over the details.

The topic came up again last night. I came clean. I told him what Meg said.

The hurt in his voice was apparent. “Oh,” he mumbled. “I guess I won’t be going to Vegas, then.”

He’d been trying to work out an inexpensive trip so he could join us for a few days.

I backpedaled. I felt bad for delivering the news that would hurt his feelings. “It’s not you,” I stammered. “It’s Meg. It’s all in her head. You know how you goalies are. She’s just so competitive. I know that you’re not like that. She knows that you’re not like that, Colin.”

The rest of our conversation was filled with sighs and awkward pauses and apology after apology.

I shouldn’t have told him.

The hurt in his voice broke my heart.
My family’s mischaracterization of him disappoints me.

I shouldn’t have told him.

After I hung up, I cried.


Plantation said...

I personally think Colin not going to Vegas is a good thing. Remember, what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. Have fun!

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