Apropos of the impending return of March Madness, Mrs. Exile and I decided to purchase a child-sized basketball hoop for our daughter, who is always frustrated by the fact that she can't reach the big nets at one of our favorite parks in Gloucester (Fort Playground, for the record, which is situated on the waterfront of the old Sicilian neighborhood known as 'The Fort' - not to be confused with Stage Fort Park, which is also beautiful - with views of Gloucester Harbor which are absolutely stunning).
We decided on the Little Tikes EasyScore Basketball Set, a surprisingly rugged toy with a real nylon net and a six-inch ball that actually feels like a basketball. Since the weather has been absolutely dreadful we've only used the hoop inside, but that hasn't stopped us from playing up a storm.
Since even with chunky heels I'm lucky if I stand as tall as 5'7", I've taken this new acquisition as an opportunity to finally do the things I've always wanted to do in a sport that I can't even play on the Xbox, let alone in real life. Of the three sports I played as a kid -- basketball, baseball, and soccer -- it was basketball that I seemed to have absolutely no knack for whatsoever. My teammates would groan when I would get fouled, as my underhanded Granny-style free throws would inevitably miss the net by a good two or three feet, and seeing that I couldn't do a lay-up to save my life (a gym teacher would later remark that I "shot like Barishnikov", which was an insult intended for all parties concerned I'm sure), my short game wasn't really much of an improvement.
Until now. Since we acquired the pint-sized hoop, I've been working out some old childhood issues by means of charging the net and slam-dunking the ball, no doubt much to the chagrin of our downstairs neighbors, but also to the uncontrollable mirth of my daughter. At this point we've worked out a fairly good passing routine whereby she tosses the ball to me as I leap into the air -- more of an NBA play than NCAA, to be sure, but entertaining to everyone in the house except for Mrs. Exile, who thinks the two of us are crazy and were likely to break something sooner rather than later.
Like my toe.
(When I do eventually go in for an x-ray I think I'll conveniently leave out the fact that my "basketball injury" was sustained while charging a 2.5-foot net on a carpeted rug in bare feet, mostly because I've always wanted to go to the doctor's for a bonafide sports injury rather than the usually pathetic and sometimes embarassing reasons that normally send me to my health care provider.)