Okay, in my defence, I did start playing in the men's game. It's just that I was a little further from peak physical condition than I first thought. Turns out that not many teams want a guy who can't get up and down the floor, box out or rebound. I had made peace with the fact that I would not see any more game action for the rest of the night when Justine approached me out of the blue.
EARLIER THAT NIGHT:
Alone on the bench, Jeff sits hanging his head and staring at his shoes when a young voice that snaps him out of his daze.
"Excuse me, sir? Do you want to come play with us?"
Jeff looks up and sees Justine standing in front of him. "What? Me?"
"We're playing in the other gym and we only have four girls who showed up. If we don't have five players, we'll have to forfeit."
"They won't let me play with you, I'm a grown man."
"A lot of us watched you play and the other team is fine with you playing on our team."
If it means a bunch of young girls would get to play a game that night, how could I possibly say no? It was the only honourable thing to do. And if I'm being honest, it was nice to be asked to play on a team. I was certain when I explained this to Ashley and Niko, they would see there is nothing to be embarrassed about.
Back at the apartment, in the immediate aftermath of Jeff's explanations Niko and Ashley are in mid-laughing fit. Genuine, hysterical, doubled-over, can-hardly-breathe laughing.
When Ashley can finally form words, "Let me get this straight, your big return to basketball was against 12-year-olds?"
"Some of them were 13," Jeff says. Which was supposed to make it sound better, but only sent them in to more fits of laughter.
Wait, wait, wait," Niko says, barely able to get out the words. Please tell me you didn't block a kid's shot and then stand over her and say, "Get that weak shit outa here, son!"
"Of course not," Jeff says emphatically.
I really did.
Two nights later Ashley arrives at a quiet, out of the way Jazz bar and starts scanning the place. She's looking for someone who fits the description of Steve, an old friend of Niko's whom he believes would be a great match with Ashley. She's not sure if she's here to prove a point or because she's hoping there might actually be a connection. Either way, she's going to go through with it.
Ashley spins around to see Steve has come in right behind her. He's tall and fairly handsome with a winning smile. Immediately most of her apprehension disappears and she has genuine hope for the first time tonight.
"Hi, Steve. Great to meet you."
They grab a table for two in a back corner more conducive for conversation.
"I have to say, I was a little nervous heading into tonight. This is my first blind date in eons," Ashley says.
"I'm so glad you said that, me too. And to top it off I wasn't sure if I was going to make it here in time.
'You were late getting out of work?" Ashley asks.
"No, I got held up at the soup kitchen. It was crazy in there tonight."
Hearing this, Ashley lights up. "That's so great. I really admire the fact that you volunteer your time there. It's something I always say I'm going to do but never seem to get around to."
YOU ARE READING
The New TwentyHumor
***WATTYS 2017 WINNER*** When the newly single, 40 year-old Jeff Dempsey suffers an agonizing humiliation at his high school reunion, he comes to realize he has accomplished almost nothing with his life. Armed with this new found insight, Jeff char...