Once again I’m standing on the sidelines of the flag football game.  No, standing is incorrect.   If a little guy is going deep for a pass, I’m going deep with him.  That’s why I have tendency to skip my Sunday trips to the gym.  Between shivering in 30-degree weather and running up and down the sidelines for an hour, I figure I’ve gotten in enough of a workout for the day.  But this Sunday, the temperature was in the upper 50s and warming into the 60s.  I didn’t even have on a coat.  Maybe that’s why I wasn’t running as many plays as I normally do – I wasn’t trying to keep warm. 

So, this time, I actually was standing on the sidelines.  And by happenchance, my body was perfectly perpendicular to the little guy in front of me as he reached … then stretched … for a long pass.  The ball tipped into his fingers, and then he dropped it.

“Ooooooooh,” we all groaned. 

And with all of my hearing, that hearing that goes from the ears to the heart to the toes, and ricochets off toes, back up to the brain, and returns to the heart again, I heard that disappointed moan of the crowd.

I walked back down the sidelines to where my cousin was standing.

“Thank God, writers don’t have people watching them when they write.  It’d be devastating to hear ‘oooooh, noooo,’ whenever we write a bad sentence,” I said.  “These kids have guts.”

I wondered if that kid who dropped that perfect pass heard and felt that collective groan like I did.  I hope he didn’t.  I remember last Sunday, my little guy dropped a deep pass right in front of my cousin and me.  We both moaned, “Oooooooooh.”  My little guy looked at us, pain painting his face like he was soooooooo sorry that he’d let us down and hurt us.  My cousin immediately started clapping for him and said, “That’s okay.  Good try.  You’ll get it next time.”

I’ve been thinking about those kids, their dropped passes, and their parents’ response for at least an hour now.  And I’m thinking maybe I’d like to have a small crowd around me, watching me when I write, cheering me and groaning at me. 

“Yea, Suzy, great sentence!  Attaway to go!!”  Applause, applause. 

My fingers strut over the keyboard with more confidence.

My little crowd leans over my shoulder again to read my next words.  “Ooooooh, Suzy, bad sentence.”

I drop my head, dejected.  My fingers flop motionless. 

Applause, applause.  “But good try.  You’ll do better next time.  Attaway to go!!  Keep at it.”

I perk up.  I look at that bad sentence.  I think of a better way to do it.  And I figure out a way not to repeat that mistake. 

Maybe, just maybe, a little crowd wouldn’t be so bad.

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