I'm not in good shape. I work out three or four times a week, push some weights around, but it's really barely keeping up with the food that my nearly-forty body seems to want to keep packed on my ass regardless of how much or little I eat. Plus I smoke, and it certainly doesn't help keep me in shape when every third intake of breath sounds like someone stepping on a bag of potato chips.
So when the volleyball tournament at work asked for volunteers, my first inclination was a rousing, 'hell no.' But then I remembered my new-found commitment to trying stuff, and decided to give it a shot. Hell, when I was 19, we spent whole days playing volleyball in the sand down by the beach, shirts off to get a tan (and show off our killer abs), ogling girls and pretending we were cool. Well, OK, we were pretty cool. Broke, stupid, and lazy - but cool.
Since this was a work tournament, our team had to have three guys and three girls. The girls seemed to be coming out in droves, including some girls who had no business whatsoever playing any athletic event that involved exercise more strenuous than lifting a cheeseburger. But for the guys, it wound up being me and two work friends.
(If you work in an office, you know about work friends. These are guys that you generally like, but you've never been to their house, you never see them outside the office, and you wouldn't help them move unless they were paying in gold bullion. These are completely unlike actual friends, in that in the case of actual friends, you've slept on their sofas, shared motel rooms in the middle of Missouri, and would help them move a body. The other players on the team were most definitely work friends, and should not be confused for actual friends.)
Selecting uniforms seemed to be a priority, starting several days before the tournament. This was not good news for me, because I thought we were just going to play volleyball at work. In the end, we had stickers that we put on our shirts with the logo for our team. As we are so creative, the logo was a volleyball. And the shirts had to be gray, which created another problem for me, because I ended up playing in the only gray t-shirt I own, which happens to have a huge Thundercats insignia on the front (thank God I decided against picking up that Saved By The Bell shirt last summer).
The actual day of the tournament came, and it was hot. I don't know what kind of cosmic prankster decides that the end of October should be great weather for sunburn and heatstroke, but whoever it is, he must have created North Texas. We couldn't show up in shorts and t-shirts - it's an office job for the government, not a software company - so we all had to go down to the locker room and change. For the record, there is no situation I can imagine in which I want to see my work friends without pants (with the possible exception of a few female work friends, but in those cases, seeing them without pants would probably result in criminal charges or divorce proceedings).
Warming up takes on a whole new tone when you're nearly forty years old and it's nearly 90 degrees. After hitting the ball around for thirty minutes, we were all sweating like marathon runners (this may have had something to do with the extra layers of insulation most of us carry, but certainly had something to do with the fact that North Texas had apparently been teleported to Equitorial Africa for the day). We were also able to determine that we all completely sucked at volleyball.
The game itself allowed us to cement the notion that we were ill-equipped for strenuous physical activity. We ran out onto the sandy court, only to be displaced by our whiny competitors who showed up five minutes later and demanded that they be allowed to play from the side where we were currently attempting to remember how to rotate. We were then soundly trounced by a team who not only did not contain fat people, but who had held tryouts to determine the most appropriate warriors to exert their sports dominance. We rotated out a girl every time so that everyone could have equal play time, while they had six players who probably should have been tested for anabolic steroids. I continue to be amazed at anyone who takes winning this seriously, especially when there was absolutely nothing whatsoever at stake. The losers, in fact, got to hit the showers first, because the winners had to stay and play again.
We did encounter one thing that the winners probably did not - incredible pain. All the guys were about the same age, which is to say we are way too old to be diving face-first into anything that is not an overstuffed sofa. After twisting, jumping, diving, and otherwise doing things normally reserved for high-school athletes and trained pole dancers, we were having trouble walking. I thought I was at least somewhat healthy, but it's been nearly a week now, and my back still makes a sound like the lid coming off a can of Pringles every time I try to look over my shoulder.
So, to sum up:
1) I got a sunburn.
2) I had to shower with men (though I understand this is common in sports).
3) We got soundly trounced to the point that we would have been embarrassed, if we weren't so damned proud that we were able to actually play in the first place.
4) We all twisted, sprained or tore something.
And after all that, we decided to do it every week.
What? It was fun!
Get exercise and have fun at the same time
Who cares about cons. It's fun.
Comparing the sounds your body makes to snack food was a nice touch. Twice.
If I was local I'd offer to be a ringer.
Matt, the volleyball junkies are worse, in their own way, than gamer nerds. I have a brother-in-law that is a volleyball junkie and he spends a crazy amount of time playing. There was streak this summer when he played every day for 8 long days in a row! Hell, he has even gone to play with high school girls ... and he is 46 years old (scary).
And Matt, I have talked to you at the last 2 gen cons, seriously - you're under 40?!?
Uh, Agent Minivann, by "Ringer" do you mean the guy who rings the bell on the ambulance when Drake and his cadre of overweight voleyballers clutch at their hearts and ask for transfusions of Gravy and Twinkie Filling? :-)
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