My ward basketball team always stunk. Well, we didn't really stink, but compared to the other wards in our stake, we stunk. Compared to a group of 4th grade girls we were amazing. Each and every year we placed 4th, never higher and never lower. It was our destiny to be 4th, just out of medal contention.
Softball, on the other hand was our sport of sports. Not only did we finish first each and every year (thanks to an extraordinary amount of defaults by the other wards), but we would often go deep into regionals. I recall making it far enough to be invited to play in the stadium, under the lights. Quite an honor indeed.
We were so good in softball that we actually purchased team uniforms effectually known forever as the "pickle pants". We had selected the ugliest uniforms on the planet for a reason: We were simply those kind of guys. The pants were indeed a plaid green and the best example I could find on the internet are these:
Imagine those pants, only in baseball uniform style. We didn't care though. We were the only team in the stake with their own uniforms and that was enough for us. It did, however, look like we were at convention of standing pickles playing softball. But I digress. This story is not about our crappy basketball team or our pickle pants, it is about a family making a statement.
My parents knew of my embarrassment of my siblings. I always begged them not to come. Nevertheless, I was the only kid in our ward that had their brothers and sisters attend the softball games consistantly. I am not sure why I was always so embarrassed to have them show up and cheer us on. Perhaps it was just that there were so many of them. Maybe it was because my dad was the Bishop. Most likely it was my belief that I was too cool for my nerdy family. I am deeply ashamed of my conceited attitude and condescending ways regarding my family as a teenager. But that was the way it was for me back then - a skinny, pimple-faced twerp.
One night, my mom told me that the family was going to come watch our big game. The alarm bells began ringing in my immediately mortified brain. Hadn't they just come last week? Why were they so intent on making my youth a living, abashed house of hell? I begged. I pleaded. "Please don't show up and embarrass me in front of all my friends!" I was such a joke of a human being.
My mom, being the understanding mother that she was, agreed that not one person of blood relation would be seen at my softball game. Relieved, I thanked her, grabbed my glove and hitched a ride with the coach to Sunnyside Park.
The game started off well enough. We had a commanding lead as usual. I was at my customary, third base position when I saw the Yospe Tomfoolery Train heading our way. My heart sank as I saw all of them exiting the minivan. Of course, all six were there, but something was amiss. Something was deeply and horribly amiss.
They sat on the first row, their beady little eyes all looking right at me. I was horrified as their eyes were the only thing I could see. For each and every Yospe family member had dawned a perfect, plain paper bag to cover their head, complete with two eye holes cut in each sack.
I could feel the laughter of my best friends penetrating my back like the blades of tiny Swiss Army Knives as I tried to focus on the game. "HEY, IS THAT THOSE YOSPE'S?" "WHAT IS WITH THOSE BAGS?" It was absolutely and completely ashamed. This was one hundred times worse than just showing up! Why would they ruin my life? Are they trying to make me a laughing stock?
Just as I thought I was going to sink into the third base line and melt into the dirt, I realized something. My friends had absolutely no idea the real reason my family was wearing the bags. My friends thought they were wearing the bags because they thought my family thought our team was so awful! They thought that their insult was directed at the team! Shouts came from the outfield. "HEY YOSPE'S, WE'RE NOT THAT BAD!" "GIVE US A BREAK YOSPE'S, WE ARE SHORT HANDED TONIGHT." My sheer horror made a quick 180 into pure comedy. I thought about the embarrassment they were causing my whole team as the other team pointed and laughed. I giggled my way through the rest of the inning. Life wasn't so bad after all, I thought.
Now, there is one part of the story that I think happened, but I am not sure. Perhaps someone in my family can help me out with my memory? As I recall, we had a dog named Tramp. Tramp was also decked out with a bag over his head. So, there on the first row we had: Dad, Mom, Sister, Brother, Brother, Brother, Tramp the dog, all comfortably wearing the latest in style from Albertsons.
My family was so cool and I didn't even know it!