Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Confessions of a Slushy Soccer Mom

Despite what you may have heard, I’m really not a huge drinker. Sure, I drink. But there are only a few times a year when I even get tipsy, and only a handful of times in college and one memorable afternoon at a swim-up bar in Mexico when I got anything approaching plowed.

Oh, and there may have been a time more recently that I was actually (secretly) drunk.

Last month we joined some of our favorite families to travel to Midland for a soccer tournament. Both Cam and Brandon’s teams were playing so we spent the weekend surrounded by like-minded parents who are soccer enthusiasts on the field and what can only be described as a little crazy off it. Most of the crazy was contained in a single block of rooms at a mid-priced hotel off M-10.

As is tradition while on the road with a sports team, or at least our sports team, the kids decorated the hotel room doors, jumped on each other’s beds and swam in the pool. Meanwhile, the parents hung out in a big group and drank a little beer.Maybe a little more than a little, but mostly just enough to turn a good game into a great game. “Did you see that kick? I just watched a Galaxy game and even Beckham wasn’t hitting shots that perfect.”

This year I had the bright idea to pack a bottle of red wine. Joe and I have been trying to class up our drinking, figuring it’s been about 20 years since our last kegger so it’s probably time to move on from a beer-only liquid diet. Within the last year we’ve even graduated to bottles with corks. Get a load of us.

So, in addition to the beer, I was sipping what the others started calling “yer fancy church wine”. I should have realized this was a recipe for disaster, but we were having too much fun for it to even occur to me. We met a guy from Saginaw who introduced himself, “Hi, I’m Chet...crazy.” He meant that Chet is kind of a retro, crazy name, but from thenceforth we called him Crazy Chet. Then one of the moms started blocking the hallway, charging random children a candy toll to pass. It should be said that despite the beer (and in my case, the wine) no one was remotely drunk. That’s just how we roll. See paragraph three.

By the time we made it back to the room, I was ready for bed and snuggled into a peaceful, church-wine slumber. The trouble didn’t set in until hours later, when I woke up and needed to use the bathroom. This in itself is not a big deal. I’ve been known to get up three or four times a night, even when I’m not pregnant. The unexpected part happened when my feet hit the ground, and my knees quickly followed.

Finding myself on the floor, I looked around as if a narrator was about to pop up and explain to me and the audience exactly what had just happened. Figuring it was a fluke, I stood again, only to land face-down on the hotel carpet. What the hell was wrong with my legs?

I had a sudden realization. The freaking church wine had metabolized after I fell asleep and I had woken to find myself really, very, quite...drunk. My eyes darted around the room again, this time not looking for a narrator as much as looking to see if anyone else was awake to witness this horror. Everyone was still zonked out, but it was at this point that I realized that it was going to be a long, treacherous obstacle course from our bed to the bathroom.

This is because some geniuses decided to have four kids, resulting in six people jammed into a hotel room about the size of our kitchen at home. In addition to the two queen-sized beds, Evan’s portacrib was set up in the corner and we had wheeled in a cot for Cam, which was wedged between the foot of the beds and the dresser. Add to that a desk, a small table and two chairs and we had a configuration that looked something like this:

After picking myself up off the floor the second time, I took a tentative step and collapsed on top of Cameron. Good thing that kid sleeps like a corpse, because I really flattened him. After a quick pulse-check and glance-over for obvious signs of internal bleeding on my child, I pulled myself back upright. Clinging to the walls, I inched my way to the bathroom and all I have to say is, thank God for textured wallpaper or I never would have made it.

Finally reaching the bright bathroom I was hit with a horrifying thought. I had to be field-side soon, cheering on my children! This would entail being able to stand, being able focus on a fast-moving ball, and being able to put words together into sentence form. Who would scream obscenities at the ref if not me?

(Okay, I could list about ten other parents who would both willingly and spectacularly step up to that job, but that’s another story.)

I was quickly beginning to realize that being sloppy drunk in a hotel room would seriously impair me from being able to fulfill my duties as a card-carrying soccer mom. Even if by some miracle I was able to stand and make myself mobile, how in the world could I hide this drunkenness from the other parents, the other kids? I pictured myself on the field, lurching around, possibly puking under the bench, screaming things like “offsides my ass!”

(Okay, that last part sounds like a normal game, but you get the drift.)

And there was no way I could stay in the room. I’m enough of a fixture on the sidelines that other parents would wonder why I was missing the games. These were the same parents who saw me drinking, and if I didn’t show up they would easily put two and two together. They might be seriously crazy, but these people are NOT stupid.

Holy crap, it hit me: this was not something I could come back from. We would have to move! To a fresh new city where people didn’t know about me, my secret drinking problem, or my damn church wine.

Just as I was beginning to hyperventilate I noticed my watch sitting on the bathroom counter. It took me a few seconds to focus, but then the most beautiful things in the world snapped into view: two hands – the smaller pointed at the two, the bigger pointed at the 12.

Two a.m.! It was only two a.m.! I had over FOUR hours to sober up!

I don’t know how moral it is to (a) thank God for giving me enough time to sober up from an inadvertent drinking binge and (b) to do it on a questionably-clean hotel bathroom floor, but I offered up some serious praise that early morning.

And a few hours later, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, I was on the sidelines with the rest of the parents, yelling at kids from the other team to keep their damn bony elbows out of my son's ribs. Hopefully Cam will blame the other kids’ elbows for that huge welt on his back, the one shaped like my right knee.

Sober, smiling and a respectable member of society.

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