With Ali Spooner’s upcoming book, Diamond Dreams, I got to thinking about my youth and sports. I always enjoyed playing basketball and baseball, climbing trees, fishing, and riding motorcycles…yeah all the things a little tomboy would do. I didn’t like dolls, I liked trucks. When we played dress up, I wanted to be the boy and slick back my hair.
I loved playing most sports growing up. I just wasn’t any good at it. In grade school, I played basketball, but when I got to high school, I pretty much sucked and barely stayed on the JV team. I remember having the biggest crush on the star of our team. I stuck it out my sophomore year, just to watch her dribble down the court.
The basketball coach kindly steered me in another direction, so I joined the badminton team. Stop laughing. Those women were brutal with the shuttlecock. Hmmmm, I wonder if badminton is a sport particularly suited to baby dykes who aren’t good enough in the popular sports. At least we got to smash a cock over the net.
Let me paint the picture for you…the same year I was on the badminton team, I was on another team. This club was considerably higher on the geek meter than the Chess Club. Yup, I was part of the Latin club. And not the Latin club for Salsa dancers, either. I think we’ve clearly established I have zero rythm.
I remember clearly how I wasn’t needed for a badminton away game, but apparently, I was indispensable for a Latin competition. True story. They had Latin competitions where conjugating verbs was a highly sought after skill. The two events were on the same night. I chose the game, much to the disappointment of the Latin teacher. I desperately wanted to fit in with the sporty types. Well…the Latin Club advisor went behind my back and worked a complicated bus transfer at a rest stop on the way to Chicago…just so I could attend the Latin competition after the game. Ugh…I would have rather been good at a sport, any sport (clearly). And…that’s why no budding lesbians ever wanted to approach me!
When I got to college, I practiced. A lot. Eventually, I became marginally proficient in volleyball. I started playing with various USVBA teams. I even went to the gay games in Vancouver, BC with Team Seattle in 1990. What I lacked in skill, I made up for with passion and grit. I’d sacrifice my body and often plummet to the ground in an attempt to dig that ball from its downward spiral to the hard floor.
After college, I joined a softball team and once again had a major crush on the star player who could effortlessly hit home run after home run. I was the catcher and no big surprise, I stunk. But I had heart. Everyone knew they could wing those balls to home plate and I’d never flinch. Of course, I didn’t always catch them either.
At the same time, I joined a rugby team. I wasn’t the fastest or the most skilled, but boy was I a scrappy little thing. The forwards had all the fun because they got to stick their heads between another woman’s legs (I swear that’s sorta true). I wasn’t a forward, I was the winger. I got the shit kicked out of me a lot. After several broken ribs and stitches to my face, I hung up my cleats.
If you’re a baby dyke, but aren’t any good at sports, well…it’s a real inconvenience. I desperately wanted to be part of something, especially something with other girls who might be like me, but my lack a skill was a huge barrier. Couple that with how shy I was and it’s no wonder I ever came out of the closet. I didn’t realize until my 20’s why I kept having crushes on all those glorious stars of the various sports teams that would elude me.
As a mature adult, I decided to throw in the towel and take up physical activities that did not require skill: running, cycling and cross-country skiing. You’ll often see my main characters take a bike ride because that’s what I can do and have a passion for these days. This doesn’t stop me from loving books about women who are superstars because it brings me back to my youth and how I often pined for those star athletes. On a few occasions, I actually had a chance to date one or two. So what sports-themed books have you loved?
I have a few fun scenes in Unconventional Lovers with a bike ride or two…here’s one of them:
Olivia groaned and rolled on her pillow-top mattress when she heard the chime on her smartphone. Picking up the offending device, she glanced at the text, squinting to read the small words.
How RU doing this AM?
She smiled, despite the ache in her legs. When she’d gotten out of bed in middle of the night, she’d realized what a terrible decision it was to ride the extra ten miles.
It reminded her of the time she’d accepted that shot of whiskey. As the liquid burned all the way down her throat, she’d declared to her friends, “Oh that tasted like a bad decision.” And it was. She’d ended up stripping down to her underwear and singing Kum Ba Yah at the top of her lungs at her friend’s pool party.
The extra miles hadn’t seemed that much farther, until they turned into her driveway and dismounted. Deb had offered to give her a leg massage, but Olivia had politely declined. The mild flirtation in her offer was enough to sober Olivia. She’d participated in the day’s banter just a tad too much. She needed to nip that in the bud. What the hell was I thinking? If she gave this woman an inch, she was sure to take a mile.
Olivia grimaced as she swung her legs onto the floor and sat on the edge of the bed thumbing her response.
I blame you for my condition. Don’t laugh when I hobble along today.
Hair of the dog. We’ll work out the kinks when we test drive the recumbents.
On my way. CU in 10
Olivia moved the phone away, making sure she read the text correctly, then pressed the power button twice to read the time. When it registered in her foggy brain that it was 8:45, she called out, “Bri, why didn’t you wake me up?”
Silence was the response. Oh, holy hell, she must have left early for her outing. Serves me right for not setting my alarm.
Each tiny step to the bathroom sent a shot of pain up her legs, as she attempted to swivel and shuffle to her destination. She imagined most people would find her odd walk hilarious—like a decrepit penguin.
Olivia was determined to work out the stiffness and pretend that she wasn’t as out of shape as she appeared. Walking like a ninety-year-old woman was sure to give her secret away. Maybe she’ll think old penguins are cute. Oh, stop that, why do you care what she thinks?
When she finally made it to the toilet and slowly let her bottom hit the seat, she cringed and wondered whether the paramedics would need to burst into her house to remove her from the cold porcelain. At least Deb wasn’t working today, but being the butt of an ED nurse’s jokes was not Olivia’s idea of a good time. She chuckled at the inadvertent pun.
“Ahhhhh.” It felt good to empty her bladder after the sparing trip in the middle of the night. Normally she got up several times a night, but after learning the consequences of her poor judgment, she’d avoided a second or third jaunt with her sore muscles.
Olivia knew there was no way she could move fast enough to take a nice hot shower and certainly not a heavenly bubble bath, so she pulled herself up using the edge of the vanity. Bracing herself against the sink, she rummaged around in the drawer, selected a hair tie, and gathered her thick mop into a messy bun. As she stood in front of the mirror with her feet wide apart to provide the necessary balance, she managed to brush her teeth.
She hoped that Deb would take pity on her and give her some time to sooth her sore muscles in a hot shower, as she attempted to make herself a bit more presentable. When she heard the doorbell, she hobbled to answer it.
Deb was smiling when she handed her a purple gift bag with yellow tissue paper poking out of the top. It felt heavy.
“Please tell me that you’re just a little sore. My ego needs a bit of stroking, and it would help for you to admit that. I don’t even care if you lie to me, in fact, please lie to me, because you look entirely too chipper and well put together this morning.”
Deb chuckled. “The bag contains some healing bath salts. Kathleen called me this morning. Bri let the cat out of the bag that you might not be up early this morning. Go on, I see you haven’t showered yet. Take a bath, relax, and I’ll go out and get us some nice, rich coffee. We can still make brunch and have plenty of time to thoroughly check out the bikes.”
“Aren’t you sore at all? Not even a tiny bit?”
“My legs are okay, but I wouldn’t even let you, as hot as you are, go anywhere near my crotch. God, I swear if you want to make it easy on someone to stay celibate, just send them on a thirty-five-mile bike ride,” Deb confessed.
“Oh, thank God. Well, I mean sorry about your, um…sensitive parts, but at least you aren’t iron woman. I guess I can be thankful for the nice wide seat on my bike. Too bad I’m horribly out of shape. Thanks for the bath salts. Are you sure you don’t mind the delay?”
“Not at all. I woke up early and took my own bath. It really does help. I’ll be back in half an hour. Will that give you enough time?”
“It might take me that long just to walk back to my bathroom.” Olivia laughed.
“Oh, okay, how about…”
“I’m just kidding. See you in thirty minutes. I owe you big time.”
I hope you decide to buy both Diamond Dreams and Unconventional Lovers because then you can compare the different sports! Somehow I think the glory of softball, a very lesbian sport, will undoubtedly win out.
Proud to be an Affinity Rainbow Publications author!