The Tao of Catch:
Catch as catch can, or
90mile-an-hour baseballs for breakfast

Gary Arms
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Catch -- for me a word over which hovers a dark cloud. It was played with enthusiasm by most of the boys I knew, especially by my male cousins who could not get enough baseball. They ate baseballs for breakfast, they studied baseball lore, they played the game with a dedication startling to behold.
I am afraid I loathe baseball.
I would rather do anything, even visit my dentist, that sit through inning after inning of baseball. Does the game ever end? Do the players visibly age as they play? Is Casey forever at bat?
Or is that Cricket?
Catch -- a cousin would grin loopily and suggest we play catch. Oh it would be fun. He played it constantly, even with his sisters. More fun than masturbation.
OK, I say woozily, knowing the dark cloud is appearing over my head -- but who can resist the charm of manly, athletic cousins?
The sun is a kind of baseball, is it not?
The cousin lobs the ball, I catch it. Oh, it is fun. I lob it back, trying not to throw like a girl, whatever that means. He lobs it back, a little faster. This is a hardball. It is a variety of rock -- very mystical -- constantly rubbed by baseballists. They derive power from it.
American as baseball and apple pie.
Soon, the rock ball is fired at me by a cousin who is now grinning like a banshee. We are playing "pepper."
My hand stings. Tears sprout in my eyes. Like standing in front of a howitzer, trying to catch missiles. Oh, I think my mother's calling me. I have an appointment. Woops, a bee just stung me -- guess I wont be able to play the fun game a moment longer. Isnt Superman on?
One of my cousins once took me to a baseball "range." We entered a baseball "cage." A machine fired hardballs at us. My cousin would fend them off with his Louisville Slugger. Try it say my cousin, mopping off his well earned sweat. I enter the cage -- look up and see the black cloud. My cousin sets the machine into motion. Soon, Hardballs, trailing flames, hurtle at me -- one hits me in the shoulder, another takes a nick out of my cranium. I dive to the ground.
A good machine-thrown baseball can proceed through space at ninety miles an hour.
To this day my cousin entertains family reunions with this story of me diving to the dirt.
Isnt catch -- gay slang?
Do you catch -- no, I only pitch.

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