September 5, 2002

Outdoor Corner

by Chris Feeney

If you've ever seen the movie "Meet the Parents" you would have had a good feel for the Myers family gathering for the Labor Day weekend. I met the parents about 10 years ago so I didn't have to worry about the comedy of errors that went along with being introduced to the prospective in-laws. However we did take part in a family grudge match of volleyball in the swimming pool that marveled the hilarious match from the movie. For those readers that missed the film, the main character goes home with his girlfriend to "Meet the Parents". They partake in a very competitive match of volleyball in the pool, ending with the poor guy spiking one off the face of his prospective sister-in-law, blacking her eye just days before the wedding.

Well the local Labor Day match pitted the In-Laws Club against the native Myers clan members. Game one was a hard fought win for the Myers group courtesy of some creative score keeping by Papa Myers teamed with the fact that they held home court advantage in the shallow end while our back row had to tread water in eight feet of water.

After taking some merciless heckling from the winners, we stepped it up in game two and took no mercy on mom, dad and two of the Myers sisters. The three son-in-laws teamed up with the lone sister-in-law to even the series at one to one. We managed to keep our rhythm despite constant stoppages of play while the other team had to get out of the pool to fetch the ball. (We solved that problem the next day by purchasing a couple back up balls at Pamida and keeping them at pool side.)

The series came down to the finale, which saw us at an immediate disadvantage to start with as we moved back to the deep end. Things got worse when I was hobbled by a cramp in my calf, effectively turning me into a one-legged player. Next to go down was Melissa as she twisted her ankle slipping off the ledge between the pools two depth levels. But the biggest loss came when my fellow brother-in-law had his aggressiveness taken away with a spike that landed square on mom's nose. I often tease that I'm the favorite son-in-law since I was the first, I provided the first grandchild and I call Memphis home giving grandma and grandpa easy access. But now I don't think there's any doubt. He already played the wild card of sending her flowers on some other brown nosing crusade, so he's out of options. (I wonder if he ever realized that I gave him the set for the spike which put me well atop the number one son-in-law mountain?)

With two hobbled players and another whose desire had been sapped by fear and embarrassment the series was in jeopardy. Our only hope was that the lone Myers son would continue to hit everything he touched out of the pool. But after a team meeting and some serious pep talks from dad and the kids he shaped up his game and started spiking the ball on us left and right. We tried some of Papa's creative score keeping but they caught the math mistakes. Mammo put the game away with an ace serve and the in-laws slumped under the water in defeat.

But that's not the end of the story - as none of us like to lose. That night we regrouped and scheduled a rematch for Sunday afternoon. The sister-in-law is a future doctor, so she had me on a diet of bananas to prevent cramps while she was performing physical therapy on her own twisted ankle. We got the spiker in to see a sports psychiatrist to remove the curse of that smash off Mom's nose. Then we put the engineering son-in-law to work designing some mechanical floating devices for our use when we were stuck in the deep end.

As Sunday rolled around we were ready. We had a team meeting and for the first time I had spaghetti for breakfast (pasta is the pre-game meal of choice for athletes.) I won't brag, gloat or do anything of the sort (I think the sky writer we hired on Monday took care of that for us) but the in-laws prevailed 2-1 on day two to regain some of our honor. Sure I may not be able to make it to work on Tuesday as I can barely move my legs, but that's a small sacrifice for a win. There's talk of a rematch but the water may be a little cool when everyone's back in town for Thanksgiving.

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