When we were growing up, we played a lot of baseball.  Street style baseball, that is. There was a big cemented square a few blocks over and we’d have our games there; the bases marked with back packs, the flag pole and mailbox….professional all the way!

Ecology Prayer  by rcw

Our neighborhood was crawling with kids.  You could tell when school was out.  The very air was filled with our shouts, cheers and jeers.  One baseball game turned more interesting than usual when a swearing contest ensued at the bottom of the ninth. This was no ordinary dirty word challenge, not by a long shot! Although that’s how it began, on the heels of a well pitched fast ball.

Kids imitating adults harumping one another is funny to watch, especially in retrospect. Especially when it’s two of the local bullies glowering and bellowing.

Such was the case that day; bully number one lived across the street from our “ball park,” and was imbued with the sense that he owned the place.  Bully number two was from a few streets over and although he had no “legal” claim over the park he acted like it’s despotic king.   As it turned out they were on opposing teams which added to the competition’s attitude and tone of speech.

Each play brought a new round of colorful vernacular; Bully Number One accused Bully Number Two of being a momma’s boy.  Bully Number Two assured Bully Number One that he was…blankity-blanking with Bully Number One’s momma, so indeed he was a momma’s boy. 

Somehow the game commenced between oral onslaughts….each bully managed to score a home run during the third inning, but by the top of the fourth they were long past what each had done to the other’s relatives and had moved on to personal body parts being shoved up, down or through certain other body parts.

Bottom of the fifth commenced with the sex with field beasts options, the sixth was more of the same only kinkier.

I expected the seventh inning to be possibly a review of barnyard banality or perhaps something from the avian tradition but was surprised when the entire inning passed without comment until I noticed Bully Number 
One’s father leaning against his car talking with a neighbor.  Some of us were saddened by this development, after all we’d been witnessing some world class swearing there!  To our great relief, Bully Number One’s dad went inside shortly before the end of inning seven and our dueling duo was at it again.

The eight inning should go down on record as containing some of the longest, most elaborate curses known to humans, at least on the eastern seaboard.  Each started tame enough….”you’re a son of a…” but it took off from there, including bits about inferior genetics, drippings from such and such, mothers wearing army boots, fathers being chickens, everybody having sex with what ever came down the pike be it human, animal or vehicular…each descriptive punctuated with the usual four letter words just for spice.  

They started out across the playing field from one other, one on the pitcher’s mound the other acting as catcher.  Top of the inning had them glowering, hands on hips, stomping the pavement and spitting.  Bottom of the eight concluded with both bullies rolling on the ground, spitting, swearing, punching and yelling…neither one ready to end the debate.

By this time, every body else just stopped playing and watched the proceedings from a safe distance. Somebody ran and got Bully Number One and Bully Number Two’s fathers, who dutifully came and pried their respective progeny apart.  Adding insult to injury, the fathers forced their sons to shake hands.

The term “if looks could kill” seemed appropriate at the time, and looking back I have to agree with my original assessment.  Behind the blood, dislocated nostrils and fat lips, two pair of eyes burned hot like coal.
But shake hands they did before being allowed to go home for dinner.

Nobody ever remembered who won or lost the game that day.  I don’t think anybody really cared.  However we did come to the conclusion that Bully Number Two’s curses were truly top notch….even if he did suck as a pitcher.

For today, Fifty Five Is The New game…you never know what you’ll really be playing on the field until you get there.

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