Sunday, March 02, 2003


After my second daughter's musical performance, we broke the sound barrier getting to her basketball championship game. She changed in the car, transfixing from a concert black and white stick figure to a fiery red and navy blue high-charged athlete. Her team won. Some days are just good. I offered, "Look, would you like to do a little shopping tonight?"

She quitely searched for a particular type of shoe, with no luck. Finally, as the cashiers were trying desparately to close, we passed by one more store. I opened the heavy glass door. We barely stuck out bodies inside. I asked too loudly to a woman too far away,

"Do you have any Chuck Norrises'?"
I turned to my daughter and asked, "That is what you called them, right?"
"Just 'Chucks', I guess" she shyly murmered. I envisioned a over-souled hiking boot with a big "CHUX" on it somewhere.
"JUST CHUCKS," the woman yelled back, as a relay to the other workers on the floor.
"You mean Chuck Taylors? The high top Converse?" responded the only male in the room.

Then of course the dime dropped. I had heard of Chuck Taylors before, and I was certainly familiar with the old Converse style. I never knew it was the same shoe. I am SUCH a girl.

Well, not really. I grew up with three extremely athletic brothers, all of us beget by a minor league ball player, with the help of a beautiful lady with nice legs. We all got my father's legs, for good or for ill, along with his eye-hand coordination, sense of balance, and ferocious intensity. It made for good athletes. But as much as my brothers always included me in every game they played in the yard - mud or snow football, hardball (we had a real backstop in our backyard), and basketball, there was nothing they could do about team sports. When my dad coached their little league, I hung from monkey bars, viewing the game from afar. When I got a older, the most I could participate was to sit on the bench and learn to keep score. I was always around sports enough to appreciate it; but I was never, as the saying goes, inside baseball.

So I did not know who Chuck Taylor was. I have a vivid memory of putting one of my brother's cups up to my face, pretending it was a pilot's mask, because I didn't know it had nothing to do with oxygen. It makes me laugh now to think (1) that they would actually leave them around on the kitchen table like salt and pepper shakers or bags of groceries and (2) what must have been going on in their minds when they saw me do that.

Anyway, I like it that my daughters will go out for any sport they see, that they know the terminology and folklore, that they can relate to the boys in their class on a substantive level, that their names get mentioned on the PA system during homeroom, and that they generally feel pretty darn good about themselves, even though championships are often few and far between.

If we take away Title IX funding, too many girls end up back on the monkey bars, watching from a distance.

This piece is posted at Berlin Blog and was prompted by today's post at Outside Counsel, that reminds us of marathon runner Kathy Switzer.

1 comment:

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