Baseball season is almost over, and with it my son’s only opportunity for professional spitting. He’s gotten so good at it that he can do it automatically, like a reflex. Brush the dirt with his shoe, spit, hit his glove, look at the bases, spit, get ready for the ball. When he’s up to bat, he takes a practice swing, spits, steps into the batter’s box, spits, and readies his stance. In the dugout he’s so efficient that he spits cleanly through the holes of the fence, onto the field.
He’s ten years old, and he’s learned to spit so well that he’s impressed the girls. After tonight’s game a gaggle of girls surrounded him saying, “Look how well he spits! He even makes a noise when he spits! That’s so cool!” This just made him spit more forcefully and proudly. Silly girls.
There are different kinds of spits, I’ve noticed. There’s the warning spit, directed toward a runner leaning a little too far off base or even an umpire who foolishly calls a strike on a ball that is clearly outside. There’s the sunflower seed spit, dislodging the empty shell in a lazy arc that floats gently to the ground, perfectly reminiscent of summer. There’s the “I mean business” spit, directed forcefully down toward his shoes and undertaken usually right before batting – accompanied by a mean hit of the bat on the plate. Then there’s the “I just did something important” spit, projected into the air with authority after catching a ball or reaching base safely. Rarely is there a spit without purpose.
When the last game is played, I don’t know what we’re going to do about the spitting. There’ll be nowhere else to spit. He can’t spit at home, that’s for sure, unless he goes outside, but there’s no one to watch him there but the dog. He can’t spit out the window of the car – he tried that and it comes right back in the back window. What is there about spitting if there isn’t someone there to see how well you can do it?
Are we raising this kid right?