When we got home, both sets of parents were at my house. Virginia’s parents took charge and spirited her away from me. My parents took me to lunch. My dad told me he had asked the Public Affairs Office where I worked part time if they could come up with a little more for me to do. I’d already asked them and they said they’d look. I was kind of miffed at him for doing so, but decided that his help might just smooth over any rough spots that could pop up.
The two of us sat outside the base Pass and ID office for fifteen minutes while a conference was held in an enclosed room with a half-wall in frosted glass. Occasionally a voice could be heard, but nothing intelligent could be discerned. They were in the process of deciding what they would do about the dependent status of my wife. I was already my dad’s dependent. Since I was underage until I was eighteen, and I was getting married, that should officially make Virginia his dependent also. Someone up the line had gotten cute and threw in an added monkey wrench.
What would that make OUR dependent: the little one yet to be born? He would, in effect, be a dependent of a dependent, and was that legal? They were in the midst of deciding that now. I paced. Not from nervousness, but simply to be doing something while others dickered with our fate.
The door opened and we were invited in. After much clearing of throats, a body-less voice from a speakerphone supposed to be in HQ USAFE, stated that Virginia would be listed under my dad, and be given a renewed dependent ID card. The card she held from her dad would be turned in and voided. The voice went on to state that if any children appeared (appeared? From where? A cabbage leaf?) They would also be a dependent of my dad. Problem solved. Well, shoot. It took them two hours to decide that?
Next we went to the PAO. The news there was just as good. I had been hired now as permanent, non-government service, staff. I was to be the official base civilian news photographer and once I graduated from school I would be allowed to take the Civil Service exam to see if I could become permanent GS staff. The rise in position made my pay jump around thirty-five percent. Jeez, I was going to really need that.
We went back to our new quarters and continued to move stuff around. I took the bed in my old room apart and reassembled it in ‘our’ room. Damn; that really sounded weird to me. Our room! Here I was moving a bed that Virginia and I would sleep in – together – right here in my parent’s quarters. I felt very strange even thinking about it in front of them.
Around four, my dad took me to the O Club and while we walked down a hall a hand reached out and grabbed me by the back of my shirt.
“Oho! What have we here? A young, soon to be married young-type person?” A voice behind me said in an affected Yogi Bear accent. It was my dad’s Executive Officer. He pulled me into the bar.
My dad followed me into the bar. I’d never been inside it before but was impressed by all the people who were there. Most of them were from my dad’s outfit, the local weather squadron, but I also recognized some from the motor pool side of the marriage.
Amid backslappings, greetings, and congratulations, my dad leaned close and told me not to have more than two beers – and that he meant it. I nodded and started making the rounds.
* * *
Back at the house later I was to discover that Virginia wouldn’t be ‘available’ tonight. She was having a combination wedding and baby shower hosted by our two moms. I went out and rounded up some of my buddies at the teen club and we just hung around. While I was sitting at a table munching on a burger, a fellow named Gerald came by and sat down next to me.
Gerald was a big soccer star that Virginia had gone out with a couple of times right after we just started dating. She and he parted ways in about a week and that’s when I moved in.
“Hey, Stud. How did you ever manage to pull this off?”
“What do you mean ‘pull this off’?” I asked, a bit frostily.
“I was beginning to think old Virginia’s legs were sewn together at the knees. How did a skinny guy like you manage so well?”
My anger flared white hot! But, one of the things my dad kept hounding me about was not to react so quickly to anything so I appeared to ponder an answer and then turned to face him slowly.
“Well – Gerald – I’d have to say: Elizabeth Barrett Browning did the trick nicely.”
“What? Some dead poet?”
“Yes. Virginia likes poetry. If you’d taken the time to find that out you might have had a better chance. You’d should probably stay on the soccer pitch and away from class act women.”
That steamed him a little. He glanced around at the several tables of friends watching us. They grinned back at both of us.
“Yeah, well I don’t know from any pansy poetry, fancy guy, but I can whip your ass on the playing field any old time.”
I paused to consider this remark. I had refrained from even trying out for the school team because, mostly, of this jerk sitting right in front of me. I didn’t like him very much and I just didn’t need the hassle. That also didn’t alter the fact that I was sure I could take him five out of seven goals in open field play, half-court. I was also fairly sure he didn’t know I’d learned to play with all the German, French, Belgian, and Dutch boy scouts I went to various camps with. I’d learned from the masters; kids that have been playing soccer since they could walk.
“Okay, Gerald (he hated being called that). Is the pitch free right now? Let’s go see who has the moxie. I’ll meet you there in,” I glanced at my watch, “fifteen minutes. First one there lights the field.”
“Done. I’m gonna raze your ass, twinkle toes.”
I just smiled and went home to change.
By the time I reappeared at the field, there were almost a hundred people in the stands to watch us. Holy cow! Didn’t they have anything else to do on a Tuesday night? Gerald and I discussed rules. We’d play by international rules, half-field. When one of us scored, the other got an in at what would normally be the mid-field stripe.
We squared off and he came right at me with pretty deft foot work. He slammed a minor pass around me, jumped over my probing foot, and began stroking down the field. I came up behind him and swept under him with a foot, snagged the ball, and worked it around him. He became defensive and prevented my first scoring attempt.
In rapid order he dodged another of my spinning attacks and sank a long shot from the side. I wasn’t fast enough to catch it and the ball eluded my fingertips to glide into the net. The crowd began to get noisy. From what I heard, he wasn’t as popular as I was led to believe by the turnout. I distinctly heard my name being yelled too.
Our next round went to him also. He was now up 2-nil. It was time to get serious on him. In rapid order I sank one from twenty feet, one from the side at about fifteen feet, and another after a hard-fought last stand right at the penalty line. I was now up 3-2.
Sweat began to pour off him, so I held up a hand and we took five minutes to cool off. He went over and drank some water and I just sat fanning myself with a towel. Across the field I noticed the school soccer coach sitting in the stands. He was surrounded by most of the team. Maybe Gerald had been shooting his mouth off and they came to see how he did.
A whistle blew and we faced off again. He and I went back and forth, stealing the ball from each other at a furious pace. He finally sank a really great curving shot from almost twenty feet out. I congratulated him. We were now tied at 3-3. The next goal would be the decider.
In the midst of a furball, he accidentally tripped me. It was definitely an accident because my cleat got caught in his shoestring. I went down and a whistle blew. The coach stepped onto the field and walked to him. He said Gerry had tripped me (which I already knew) and I should take a penalty shot. Gerald reluctantly agreed. We walked to the proper spot and he stood as defender while I pondered how to play it. I caught his eye and rolled my eyes to his left – twice. He gave a short nod, looking slightly puzzled.
With a quick rush, I ran towards the ball, feinted with my shoulder, drove the ball with my off foot and it sailed directly to his left at around eight feet off the ground. He made a huge leap, caught the ball on his forearms, and made the save.
I stood while he took the ball out and back in. We battled for several more minutes until he faked me out to one side and slammed a beautiful shot right past me at hip height that hit the inside corner of the goal post – and popped inside. His game. We ended at 4-3. We shook hands and went over to the stands. Amid various ‘well-done’s’ and ‘close game’s’, I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was the coach.
“I saw that penalty shot. You gave it to him didn’t you?”
“Well, sort of. I didn’t know if he’d take it though. He can be pretty hard-headed at times.”
“Where did you ever learn to play like that? He’s the best I have and you clearly won on style and should have kicked his butt.”
“Coach, I’ve played with and against the best teams the German boy scouts have to offer. I know how to play the game; I was just so busy with other stuff that I didn’t try out.”
“I wondered about that. Some of your moves I’ve only seen downtown. Do you go to the Foosball Club sometimes?”
“Yes, I do. Mostly to watch, but I get caught up in a pickup game once in a while. Mostly, they make be a goal tender because I sometimes forget I can’t touch the ball with fingers.”
“Aren’t you the guy getting married tomorrow that all the kids are fired up about?”
“Well, yes, I am.” I practically dug a toe into the ground like an idiot.
“When you graduate next year, would you be interested in a coaching assistant’s job? It doesn’t pay much, but I really think you could help our game.”
“I already have a job, Coach. I work at the PAO, but I’d be free to work on weekends and evenings when I could get off. My bride is soon to be having a baby.” I looked up at his surprised face. “I … er … would appreciate it that not getting out. Sorry I brought it up.”
“Brought up what?” He smiled at me.
“Thanks, coach. I’ll think about it.”
On my way home, Gerald came from between two buildings and hailed me.
“Yeah,” I replied in a noncommittal voice.
“Why did you give me that penalty save? You had me whipped to a standstill.”
“I’m not really sure, Gerry. I knew you’re the star of the school team, and if you’d been beaten – by me – that would have made you look bad. My goal wasn’t to make anyone look bad, just to let you know that arrogance doesn’t always pay.”
“Well,” He smiled, rubbing a hand over his chin, “I’d say you proved that tonight. Much appreciated. And, congratulations. Virginia is a fine girl and deserves someone like you. Just ignore my big mouth.”
“Done.” I stuck out my hand and we shook solemnly. I thought that if I took the coaching job the first thing I’d like to do is teach him not to be surprised by some of the moves I’d made on him. He was a hell of a player, but could be better.
“Just be sure to watch your left side closer,” I called out to his back.
I headed back home whistling. I figured I’d done a good deed here. Jerry was indeed a good player. He’d actually come very close to shutting me out, but I’d learned some great moves that, if I taught them to him, would make him nearly unbeatable. I’d have to give the Coach’s proposal some careful consideration for sure.
Virginia and I spent the rest of the day fiddling around in the house, arranging our personal clothing and assigning drawers (she got the top ones so she wouldn’t have to bend over). After dinner, she left for her house. We’d decided that it was one thing to be formally engaged out in the open, but to actually sleep together (even though we’d done that also) without being married might not come over so well with some people. Also, and most importantly, only a select few knew that Virginia was pregnant.
© Copyright 2017 Tom Oldman. All rights reserved.
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