I’m not particularly good at basketball. I love the game to death, but when I play it I just know somehow, somewhere, Michael Jordan is disappointed in me and crying. I try so hard to be “like Mike,” but sadly I must remain my clumsy self. So when the opportunity to look cool on the basketball court presents itself, I have learned to seize it and then quit while I’m ahead. If only after painful trial and error.
One time I was at the gym back home and tired of the judgmental stares from the soccer mom’s in my Zumba class, so I went down to play some basketball. No one was around, so I could miss layups in peace.
When I got tired of air-balling free-throws and had thoroughly proven to myself that I did not possess the athletic wherewithal to dunk a basketball, I started heaving up half-court shots. At least then I was not embarrassed when I missed. If I got the ball into the same zip code as the rim it was a major success.
Like everything else, that quickly became boring. But I had convinced myself that I was not allowed to leave the court until I made one shot from half-court. So I shot and shot and shot; air-ball, air-ball, air-ball.
After twenty minutes or so, I started hitting the rim.
I was getting so close to actually making this shot when a girl came into the basketball gym. She quietly grabbed a ball and kind of watched me as I lined up for one more shot. I had not taken one since she walked in, but I knew that this one was going to make it.
I lined up, cocked the ball back, and heaved it toward the goal.
Nothing but net. Her jaw dropped. My jaw dropped. I had finally made it. But I quickly turned my surprise into a vague pseudo-confidence and strutted out the gym like I just dropped the mic. Like this is something I do regularly. No biggie.
She watched me leave, the sheer surprise never leaving her face. And that’s how I should have left it, but no. Once I was back upstairs doing bicep curls, I kept thinking to myself, “I can hit that shot again. I can totally do it again.”
So I went back down the basketball court and grabbed a ball. The girl was still there, except now she had a friend with her. When she saw me, she excitedly nudged her friend, saying something like, “That’s the guy!”
I watched them out of the corner of my eye. A smug smile on my face while I lined up another wicked awesome half-court shot. “These girls are gonna think I’m a flippin’ stud,” I thought to myself. With one last look at them, I cocked back and heaved up another shot.
The girls’ excitement vanished. Horror stabbed me in the stomach. I tried to laugh it off while I jogged to grab my rebound, but they weren’t buying it. In one second, I had gone from hero to fraud.
They were kind enough to linger a little while longer to watch me try some more. Air-ball, air-ball, air-ball. I couldn’t look at them anymore. They’d gone back to talking to one another and looking at their phones. And then they were gone.
So now, I keep my basketball failures strictly to myself. Heaving up free-throws that would make Shaq laugh only in the privacy of my own backyard. But now I know that if I ever get to have another “drop the mic” kind of a moment, it’s best to keep walking.
“The bitch and moan-olgoues” is a weekly humor column that explores writer Chase Wilkinson’s adventures in being socially awkward and paranoid.Contact Chase Wilkinson.