I went for a run yesterday evening after work and there they were, in all their predictable glory: a group of guys gathered for pick-up soccer.
As I ran my laps, I took on the role of spectator. Sure enough, all six of these guys found their way into the game.
It is a requirement, after all. Or so it seems.
The Guy In Jeans—Sometimes Cargo Shorts
Each game has one. And there are two likely reasons for this odd soccer outfit. Either he forgot to do laundry or his soccer-playing friend dragged him along and he ended up on the field to “even out the numbers.” Usually the latter.
Pass to him at your own risk. Give-and-gos often become give-and-never-get-backs.
The Guy Who Used to Have It But is Now Limited by His Gut
The most common member of the group. You can tell this guy was good before his gut grew into a thirty-pound fanny pack. Don’t get me wrong, he has skills and—don’t let the stomach fool you—is surprisingly light on his feet. He knows how to play, where to be and when, but can’t do it like he used to. At least not as efficiently.
This is what the mirror is starting to look like, though the gut is about 100 beers short of reaching its potential.
The Way-Too-Serious Guy
Outfit has nothing to do with it, this guy is just ultra-competitive. To a fault. Chill out, bro, it’s just a pick-up game. Not the World Cup. No need to flop, slide tackle every five seconds, call ticky-tack fouls, yell at the guy in jeans—remember, he wasn’t planning on playing in the first place—or even keep score. And if his team “loses,” he storms off the field without a word said, aside from profanities, and doesn’t return for at least a month.
In this case, you secretly want him to lose—to the point of pulling a 1919 White Sox if need be.
The Guy In a Jersey
Soccer jersey, of course. The guy in a jersey is always a wildcard. Either he looks and acts the part or he is comparable to a kid in a Spiderman costume on Halloween. No webs are shooting out of those wrists.
You never really know what you’re going to get until the game starts.
The Cherry Picker (I’d rather play with a nose picker)
This guy not only parks his butt in front of the opposing goal and picks cherries, he snags bushels of apples and peaches too. We see you. And no you didn’t just invent a new way to take advantage of the no-offsides rule. People have been picking for years. It’s downright lazy and not even your own teammates want to pass you the ball. Help out on defense and maybe we can work something out.
The older—and more out of shape—I get, the more I hate this kid. His bottomless source of energy and the way he makes others look bad. And old. I used to be him. I miss those days. Running around and around, getting faster and faster as the game progresses. Ahh those were the good days. Now I sprint ten yards and my legs feel like anchors.
But seriously, who invited this kid? He’s either a relative of one of the guys, possibly their son, or a messenger sent by God to remind us how cruel time is.