STAR BILLING I NEVER WANTED
For a small drone, the machine kicked up a mighty wind. A few days ago, six of us sat mesmerized as it zoomed around my son’s family room like an angry hornet, lights flashing, four propellers creating a miniature hurricane, more breeze than anyone expected.
What I should have expected was that eventually it would hit me. Like others, I kept ducking. Then . . . Clunk. The spinning, futuristic toy came to a sudden stop against my upper lip. A nasty surprise. And this from my son, Chris, who, in addition to being a surgeon is reputedly a good pilot.
“But of course,” my husband muttered, “it had to be you.”
As Chris’ wife, Betty-Jo, handed me a damp towel for the few drops of blood the drone released, I suddenly remembered. Oh, yeah . . . I’ve got this history.
Over the years I’ve noticed other people acquire reputations they relish. Whereas I’d like to be famous as a writer, around my family I’m known mainly as a target.
It all started innocently enough, years ago, when I stood near a railing at Brandon’s ice hockey game. First grandson, first time I’d ever attended a game—and to add to my uncanny luck, other family members stood beside me. But only I was singled out by the puck that sailed skyward off the ice, cleared the railing and smacked my upper arm. It hurt like crazy. Still, I felt lucky. It could have been my head. It was Chris, standing next to me, who noted, “Of course, Mom, you were the one that got nailed.” How he recognized this tendency so early is difficult to imagine. But let’s just say his observation was predictive of future events.
Once another grandson, Dane, became fully invested in volleyball, Rob and I attended most of his matches. The Anaheim Sports Arena contains some twenty volleyball courts. Unlike other spectators, I’ve been hit by balls flying out of at least ten of them. Balls from courts behind me clunk against the net and find my back. Balls from warm-up smashes in front of me careen off my forehead. Balls from near-empty courts seek me out as I head for the cafeteria--and one managed to knock off my glasses. For that matter, my glasses alone have taken hits and flown off my face at least three times.
Other spectators began to notice. “You do seem to have a bulls eye painted on your body,” a team mother said. Her husband added, “You know, Maralys, you really need to wear a helmet.” Another mother said, “Don’t sit by her—she gets hit every time.”
Once, in the Anaheim arena, as I was headed for the Ladies Room, a ball from a nearby court followed me down a narrow hall and brushed me as I entered the rest room.
The most spectacular moment actually occurred in a high school gymnasium. Like other spectators, I was sitting quietly in the bleachers when it happened. A volleyball from the court in front of us sailed down the length of the gymnasium, hit a wall at the far end and rebounded, flying like a homing pigeon straight for my head. Dozens of other heads were available, of course, but obviously none qualified.
My family finds all this amusing, as though it’s somehow my fault. They weren’t surprised when we were walking together across a soccer field and an errant ball bounced off my ankle. But even our guffawing males didn’t witness the ultimate in heat-seeking missiles.
That came when, with my granddaughter Christy up in Oakland, I visited a tiny tots birthday party. Like grasshoppers, some dozen three-year-olds cavorted and frolicked across a modest living room, chasing small toys and piñata candies. Among the objects on the floor was a tiny ball. To my astonishment, a miniature boy took a mighty swing with his miniature toe, caught the ball just right, and sent it cascading into my cheek.
The father sitting beside me exclaimed, “Oh! Are you all right?”
He probably didn’t believe me when I said, “Well, that was certainly the smallest of my assailants. You wouldn’t know this, of course, but I’m famous for getting hit by flying balls. In fact, I’m verging on a national reputation.”
We both laughed.
At the time I thought the little boy had achieved top billing. But that was before Chris brought home a drone. While I admire him as a pilot, when it comes to flying a drone, he’s a menace. But for me a high point. What he did with his newest toy was add a star to my celebrity as a target.