The Kicker

I walked in the playroom to bring Braden and his friends some freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. With My Boo playing on Braden’s “parent approved” playlist, I took the liberty to do my rendition of The Running Man Challenge (a dance move) as I left the room—after all, that song had been revived from my high school days. As a whole, the guys thought my dancing was fun—all except one.

“Mom, you are so embarrassing!” mouthed B emphatically, as he walked down the hall to his room.

Embarrassing? Me? I thought as I followed B while his friends kept on dancing and playing Ping-Pong—unaware of Braden’s abrupt exit.

I knocked on his door. “B? Can I come in?”

“I guess so,” he said in a huff.

I walked in as I heard his friends erupt over a stellar Ping-Pong move.

I sat next to him on his bed. With his back to me, I explained how he was overreacting and that I didn’t mean any harm.

“Mom, I’m sure in your head your little dance was cute, but in mine—it wasn’t,” Braden argued.

“I’m sorry B. I didn’t mean to humiliate you. It won’t happen again. I thought I was being entertaining,” I said sincerely.

“Well, you weren’t. Haven’t you ever had your parent completely embarrass you before?” He left the question hanging in the air as he abruptly left the room to join his friends, abandoning me while sitting on his bed.

How could he think I’m an embarrassment? He should have grown up with my dad. I’ll never forget the day my dad completely and utterly humiliated me.

It was the summer before my junior year of high school. In an effort to stay in shape, my dad and I jogged every evening at our high school track, which was around the school’s practice football field. Most of the time we were alone, with the exception of an older couple or two, which is why my dad’s attire didn’t really bother me. If anyone I knew would have seen my dad wearing an old t-shirt from his military days, workout shorts that were from the Magnum P.I. era, and white tube socks with a blue stripe—I would have died. Little did I know that day would come.

Chad Rizzo graduated a few years before me. He was popular, a great athlete, and had characteristics similar to that of a Greek God. We had become friends one semester when we both took the same elective. He had been awarded a football scholarship as a kicker to a private college in Louisiana and was home for a portion of the summer.

One evening, my dad and I got out of our car and walked to the track. Chad was there practicing kicking on the field.

“Dad, please lets forget about running tonight. I feel sick all of the sudden,” I pleaded.

But before I could convince him, my dad was in full-trot towards Chad. I ran after him.

“What are you doing?” I asked in desperation.

“That’s Chad Rizzo. You know he’s kicking at the college level now. I’m going to say hello.”

“Dad, I beg you not to do this.”

It was too late.

“Chad, what’s going on man?” my dad extended his hand as Chad shook it respectfully.

“Just out here getting some reps in,” he said while noticing me standing behind my dad. “Oh my gosh! Brooke! I haven’t seen you in forever,” he gave me a sweaty hug which I was more than willing to accept. But before we could get the opportunity to catch up, my dad interjected.

“You know, back in high school I wasn’t too shabby at kicking. I may be able to give you a pointer or two.”

He proceeded to roll his tube socks down his leg so it looked like he had two donuts around his ankles. He tied the drawstring of his already short shorts—hiking them up more than necessary. He rolled his sleeves up and snatched the football out of Chad’s hand. Without stretching, preparation, or (my guess) having done it before, my dad attempted to kick the ball through the uprights only to kick so hard that he landed FLAT ON HIS BACK and missed the ball completely.

As this memory played in my mind, I couldn’t help but laugh out loud. What once was a terribly embarrassing moment now was a hysterical memory and one that accurately portrays my “character of a dad”—whom I love dearly. I could only hope and pray that my mistakes and embarrassing moments would one day be remembered with laughter and fondness.

As I got off of B’s bed to return downstairs, Braden walked in the door and bumped into me.

“Hey. I was looking for you. What are you still doing in my room?” he asked.

“I was just thinking. What’s up?”

“I just wanted to let you know that we’re about to go outside to play basketball.”

“Okay. That’s fine,” I replied solemnly.

As he walked out the door, he stalled, turned around and said, “I’m sorry.”

“No, I’m sorry. I should have realized that would be embarrassing,” I replied.

He leaned in and squeezed me tight. “Actually, your dance wasn’t that bad. Did you know that Jason’s dad tooted while saying the prayer before his birthday dinner? Now that would have been embarrassing!” We both laughed. “I just overreacted. Most of the time I think you’re pretty neat,” he said with a smirk.

“Most of the time I think you are pretty neat, too.”

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