Have I ever mentioned that I'm shy and just a tiny bit awkward? I think I may have mentioned it a time or two. When I'm in a group of strangers, I fidget and tell jokes that only I understand and then laugh nervously until, inevitably, people wander away with perplexed looks on their adorable little faces. I really like people so I'm always sad to see them go and then I'm left alone to sip my drink and lie in wait for the next group of innocent victims to approach me. Now, some of you are thinking, "Now Vikki, I have been out with you and this is an exaggeration!" and some of you are thinking, "Yeah, that seems about right." This is what I refer to as the "Vikki Mystique" or as others might call it, "Wildly Inconsistent Social Behavior." Whatever. The point is that I love people but they make me crazy nervous. So, you can imagine how I felt when Miguel joined a new soccer team last fall. When we went to the first game, this was my internal monologue:
Well, here we are at the soccer field. Oh look! There are lots of people here and I don't know a single one of them! What a surprise! It's like a sea of heterostrangers. Of course, I don't know that for sure. Actually, I do. Really? Are you sure? Yeah, I can tell from their shoes (chuckles out loud). I think the best plan of action is to remain quiet. Yes. I will sit in my foldy chair and cheer for Miguel and speak only when spoken to. Oh god. What if someone talks to me? I'll say "hi". C'mon woman! Pull yourself together - this isn't rocket science. Thankfully - because I'm really bad at math (chuckles out loud). Oh! Maybe this is like rocket science because I'm bad at this too! (chuckles out loud, slaps knee).
Meanwhile, in the real world outside my head, people were already sizing me up and they were thinking one word - aloof. Yes, they pegged me right away are quiet and aloof. I know this because, as time passed, I became less quiet. Not less shy, mind you - simply less quiet. You see...I became a Screaming Soccer Mom. I could not help myself. The games would get so exciting and, before I knew it, I'd be standing up screaming like a banshee. A loving, supportive banshee but a banshee nonetheless. I screamed through every game and my most common refrain was, "GO BABY GO!" It never occurred to me that other parents noticed the screaming because I felt that I had successfully blended into the background, like some sort of lesbian mom shrub. But people were watching and, during a particularly screamy game, one of the other moms said to Luisa, "I thought you'd be the yeller but no. What a surprise!" That's when I realized that the other parents had noticed me and could actually hear me. It turns out that blocking out the rest of the world doesn't make you invisible. Who knew?
Fast forward to the spring season. I went to a game by myself because Luisa was out of town and was doing the usual screaming when one of the other mothers turned to me and said, "You are a really bad influence on me. Usually, I don't yell." It was then I knew that I was getting a reputation. So, again, I pledged to be quiet. A couple of games later, I was screaming "GO BABY GO!" excitedly when Miguel turned towards the sidelines and put his finger to his mouth and shushed me. My loud, often obnoxious child shushed me! Then, I knew the yelling must be even worse than I had thought. After the game, I asked Miguel if my cheering bothered me and he said, "Well, just when you're yelling 'BABY' at me. That's a little embarrassing." I pointed out that Luisa also yells but he didn't have a problem with that. I turned to Luisa and said, "Why is it okay for you to yell?" and she smiled and said in the voice she uses when she is trying to keep me from freaking out, "Honey...you are a little shrill." She quickly added, "But it's cute" but it was too late. Shrill? Harumph.
I tried to be quiet. I made promises on Twitter. I considered duct tape. I stepped back behind the rows of chairs hoping that the extra space would swallow my voice. I did everything I could and still the excited screams escaped. Last night was Miguel's last game though his team's final game is next week. A bunch of us went out for ice cream after the game and I realized that I didn't feel out of place anymore. In the past 9 months, we got to know these families. We drove our kids all over the place for games. We spent 3 days together at a tournament. We got together for cookouts and World Cup soccer. We shared beers and a few laughs. As we said our goodbyes last night, one of the dads said, "You should come and watch next week!" I laughed and said, "I should!" He then said, "It won't be the same without you. It will be so quiet." It will be...until next fall.