Patsy Porco

Scores Best Left Unsettled

In bocce, Humor on June 7, 2018 at 8:52 pm

When I was growing up, my family belonged to Crispin Gardens Athletic Club, located in Pennypack Park in Northeast Philadelphia, where my family lived. My father and mother were very involved with the club, so, naturally, we kids were, too. Or, to be accurate, the first four of my parents’ children were involved. The other three were too young to play at the time we were members.

My two brothers were good at baseball and football, which were the two sports offered to boys. My younger sister and I were not good at softball or cheerleading, which were the sports available for girls. But that didn’t stop us from participating in both activities.

I was a cheerleader for 5-year-old football players. I could never figure out how to do a cartwheel so I got to cheerlead for kids who hadn’t figured out how to play football.

I also played softball. When I was in about fifth or sixth grade, my sister and I were on a team together. Neither of us ever got a hit. So, the two of us were traded by our team … for one girl from another team. Our neighbor, Mrs. Devine, who was a family friend, managed a team in the league and she took pity on us. She gave up one of her better players for the two of us.

We did her proud … once. When Mrs. Devine’s team played our former team, both my sister and I got hits, much to our former team’s dismay.

I think those hits were our only hits, but they came at the perfect time. And, to make our victory even sweeter, our new team beat out our old team to win the club’s World Series. There was probably a lesson there …  but it was for our former team, and I doubt they learned it. Little league managers can be ruthless.

There was another lesson taught that season and this one was for me. I was fiercely jealous of the girl who replaced my sister and me. She was a few years younger than I was, around my sister’s age. So, not only was she a better player than I was, she was younger. I was demoralized. I wished all kinds of evil on her. And then, within a few weeks, she was dead.

She was hit by a car driven by a young guy who lived across the street from us. I was overcome with guilt for wishing her ill. I was certain that I had caused her death. When I got a little older and realized that I probably had nothing to do with her dying (although, we’ll never really know how powerful thoughts can be), I resolved to not wish bad things on people, no matter how much I disliked them.

So, years passed and I joined the occasional team and was always the worst player. I couldn’t even successfully serve a plastic volleyball over a swimming pool net. But this year, my luck could be changing.


Six of the Boccegaloops

Our city sponsors many spring and summer sports leagues that play on the courts and fields at Calf Pasture Beach in Norwalk, Connecticut. My husband and I are on a bocce team, Don Carmelo’s Boccegaloops. We were on it two years ago and the team came in last place. Our record wasn’t entirely due to my skill-less playing, but it certainly contributed. My husband persuaded me to play again this year. The team was happy to have us back, because of my husband’s skills, so we rejoined.

Last night, we had our first game and we won. And I didn’t stink. I credit the one practice we had a few weeks ago for turning the tide. I actually helped the team win. I wasn’t the best player (my husband and the other players were really good), but I wasn’t an embarrassment. And, I didn’t throw the ball wildly and crack any skulls. I kept the ball on the court and even got my red ball really close to the little white ball, the pallino, a few times, which is the object of the game.

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But what made me especially proud was that I didn’t wish any ill luck on a certain member of the opposing team. Others may have, but I didn’t. I did talk trash about her later, but I didn’t wish her any misfortune for her bad behavior.

It all started when our red ball and the opposing team’s green ball looked equidistant from the pallino. When that happens, you’re supposed to measure the distance between the closest green ball and the pallino and the closest red ball and the pallino, to see which ball is truly closest to the pallino.

We were winning 10-2 and the game ends when one team has 11 points. The head of the league came over and said that our ball was closer, so we were the winners. While gesticulating and jumping around in protest, a woman on the other team “accidentally” kicked our ball, making her ball look closer. Then she denied kicking it. But it was too late. We had won. And she was not happy.

Before she left, she shot us all a look that could kill. Some would call her look the “evil eye” or “malocchio.” She’s Italian so she probably knows how to activate it.

Anyway, I think my teammates and I would be wise to take precautions … at least until the league plays again next week. After then, she’ll probably despise another team and will have forgotten all about us.

I hope the evil eye loses its power once it’s transferred to someone else. If not, we’ll need to learn, and use, the fig and horned signs … and maybe stitch evil eye patches on our shirts.

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Strangely enough, possessing an evil eye repels any evil eyes that might be directed your way.


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A Good Way to Be

In Children, Humor on June 5, 2018 at 1:30 am

Whenever I sit on our sofa, I always lift the bottom cushions and check under them before sitting down. It’s become a habit, but tonight I caught myself doing it and wondered why I did it. Then I remembered.

I have a friend who is very smart and very introspective. Sometimes she’s so deep in her thoughts that you have to nudge her back to the conversation you’re having with her. She is also very calm amidst chaos. And that was a conscious choice she made.

She has experienced two life events that would send most of us into a tailspin, but she told me that she refused to allow them to interrupt her life. She said that she was available to support the people who were in trouble and she would continue to help them when they came out on the other side of their problems, but she would not obsess about their situations or let them interfere with her life.

She also doesn’t let the little annoyances, or alarming discoveries, in life get to her.

One day, she told me of a visit to her mother’s house. She said that she was sitting on the couch across from her mother, who was in an armchair. While talking, she slid her hand down the side of the couch between the cushion and the the arm. She felt something soft, so she lifted the cushion and found a family of mice. The surprising thing is that she found this to be interesting instead of horrifying. She told the story in a bemused fashion, as if it were odd that she didn’t find animals in her own furniture.

On another occasion, she told me that her son’s grade-school teacher sent a note home saying that she suspected that her son had worms. She called the teacher and asked why she thought this and the teacher said that the boy couldn’t sit still and was acting oddly. So, my friend took her son to his pediatrician and had him checked. He didn’t have worms after all, so he was sent back to school with a declaration of wormlessness from the doctor. Again, my friend didn’t get upset or mortified like most of us would have. She just did what she had to do, and told the story.

Years later, her younger son had the same teacher. He came home from school one day and said that the box of raisins that she had sent to school with him for recess had had worms in it. He took the box to the teacher and told her that he had inchworms that he wanted to show the class, since they sang the song “Inchworm.” The teacher told him that the the worms in his raisins weren’t inchworms and he should throw the raisins out. Being a very considerate teacher, she offered him an alternate snack from her supply closet.

I remember that my friend grimaced when she wondered if this teacher now thought of her family every time she saw worms. But then she laughed at the coincidence and put the incident aside.

I find her company to be very soothing. Nothing is a disaster to her, just something to endure and examine later. She might be on to something.

worm in apple

Pretend this apple is a raisin.

Let Me Lead!

In dance, Humor on June 3, 2018 at 9:17 pm

My husband and I took an hour-long dance lesson at a local Fred Astaire Dance Studio this past week.

A beautiful, young, Russian dancer, Tatiana, taught us the steps to the foxtrot, the rumba, and the merengue. I didn’t think my husband would enjoy the lessons but he surprised me. When Tatiana told me that my husband would lead every dance, his eyes twinkled. When we coupled up to dance and I automatically started to push him around the dance floor, he would stop dancing and say, “Let me lead!”

Tatiana, probably tired of my resistance, told me that I had to suppress my urge to run the show and allow my husband to take charge. That was really hard for me. But I tried. Like learning dance steps, I realized that learning to surrender control to another person takes time and practice.

When we got home, we practiced everything we had learned. Dancing on our own, without supervision, was the most difficult part of the dance lesson. Neither one of us could remember the order of the steps to the three dances, or even the actual steps.

At first, I thought that we had just wasted an hour of our life. But I had to concede that it was an enjoyable hour. So, even if we still couldn’t dance, we did have fun together, as well as a topic to dine out on, so it wasn’t a waste of time at all.

And, best of all, since we forgot all of the dance steps, we also can forget the part about my husband leading.


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