Man, it's been eleven hours since that soccer match, and I'm still exhausted.
Of course, I hadn't played soccer since I was half my current age, so maybe I can be forgiven for lying on a park bench, trying not to barf, after only five minutes of soccer.
This wasn't originally on my itinerary. My original plan for my day off was to sleep, wake up, do dishes, wash my work clothes, and go out to dinner and a movie with the Girlfriend. Late Thursday night, as the Girlfriend and I were in bed sleeping and reading respectively, the phone rang. It was my friend Paul, whom I hadn't seen since his mother's wake nearly a year ago. We chatted it up for awhile, and then he asked if I wanted to go to lunch. Sure, I said. And oh, by the way, our old friend Matt was back in America for a couple days. Sounds great, I said. And it did. Matt was Paul's successor as editor-in-chief of Montage, a lit-mag Paul and I co-founded nearly (holy shit!) a decade ago, and since he graduated from Illinois had gotten married, moved to Finland, and currently divides his time writing for music publications and teaching English at a local college. He flies back to America once a year or so, so this was a great opportunity to see the old freak.
Around 1pm, the three of us were eating at a faux-Irish bar near the Museum of Contemporary Art. (How faux? Try Thai BBQ wraps. Now that's faux.) I filled myself with a cheeseburger, fries, and a gin and tonic, not expecting to do anything more exerting than walking to the CTA station.
Paul had to return to work, so Matt and I walked him back to the hospital where he works, and I decided to tag along with Matt. He was going to meet up with an old high school friend of his at Grant Park where they were kicking around a soccer ball, and I thought that would be fun. It was a fairly long walk, and by the time we found his friend, I was already a bit winded. So it only made sense that I, bloated from lunch and winded, should join in a game of soccer.
This didn't exactly work out as planned. Jason, his three friends, Matt, and I immediately split up and played three-on-three soccer, without my taking a bit of a rest, or even stretching. Within five minutes of running around like a 90-year old Pele (come to think of it, he might be 90 by now), I had to stop. I hobbled over to the water fountain, gasping for breath, drank deeply, and decided it would be a good idea to lay down on a nearby bench for about 15 minutes until the desire to ralph my heavy lunch had passed, or the world stopped twirling, whatever came first. It was decided I would make a fine goalie. And it turned out I did. Although I hadn't played soccer since I was half my current age, I blocked a lot of shots, and we won the game. All in all, I had a fun time, and if I ever decide to play soccer again in 82-degree weather, 150 feet from a Lake Shore Drive traffic jam, wearing blue jeans, I would definitely eat a garden salad beforehand.
It was past 3pm when we split up for the day. I decided I'd go pick up The Girlfriend, whose shift ends at 4pm, and kindly inform her that not only did I not clean the kitchen or do laundry, but that I was too exhausted to take in a dinner and a movie. She was very forgiving about this, ensuring me that boys sometimes need to make fools of themselves so they can still claim to be boys, and we headed for home.
Postscript: on the bus home, the Girlfriend and I were standing near the back door when I looked around, and who should be behind me but the great Jima, blog-demigod of empty-handed.com and Gapers Block MVP. This was slightly awkward for me because he was neatly dressed from work, while I, covered in dried sweat, looked like I should be arguing with oxygen molecules at a bus stop. Despite this, we all enjoyed a good chat, and it turns out that we live literally a block away from each other. Hopefully we'll all get together and shoot the breeze. Hopefully I'll be able to move my legs again without weeping.