The Endless Ball Game

“GOAL!” shouted Manuel, jumping up with arms outspread, as the soccer ball flew between two shoes on the patio floor.

“No, hombre, manos ya!” protested Steven. “I was inside the hands-allowed zone, ¿verdad, Tio?” Manuel asked me.

I stood in the doorway to the livingroom, acting as referee over a very old, soft ball, two little nephews, and a pair of gym-shoe goal posts.

“What do you say, Uncle?” Steven nudged me.

I had heard this argument for most of their short lives. Manuel was 10, Steven 8, and this dialog took place with more regularity than Grandad’s trips to the servicio after eating jalapeños.

“I say, let me see, hmmmm,” I rambled, building suspense in my pauses. "I say, GOAL! No, wait a sec. MANOS! No, give me a minute..."

Both boys groaned. They knew my response by now, because it was always the same--just like their argument over goals. "Not THAT again!" they cried.

"Yes, THAT again," I replied. "You know the drill: one hand behind your back," I instructed.

They both shrugged, and got ready for the count. Maybe you already know this game: It's called 'Paper-Rock-Scissors.'

"By my count now, on 'Three, ' I warned. "One, two, THREE!" And each boy quickly brought the hidden hand forward.

"Paper!" yelled Steven.

"Scissors!" jubilated Manuel.

"Darn it!" Steven complained. "I lose, but it's two out of three, right Tio?"

"Right you are, little nephew, so let's do it again." Both boys assumed the one-hand ready pose. "One, two, THREE!" I counted.

"Scissors!" shouted Manuel.

"Rock! I win, yippee!" Steven was hopping around like a gleeful frog in a pond full of insects.

"One more game to go, one more!" objected Manuel.

And both boys quickly got ready again for my last count: "One, two, THREE!"

"Rock!" shouted Steven.

"Paper!" shouted Manuel.

Can you guess who won the ballgame?

Well, that was many years ago, and both Manuel and Steven are all grown up, with sons of their own who play futbol everyday. I know this because I live next to the plaza where they play.

Upé! Upé! Hola, Tio," they shout from atop the wall of my back patio. "The ball went up on the roof--again!"

I can't climb roofs anymore, but the largest boys make a 'sandilla' pyramid to get the ball. The sandilla rocks back and forth a couple times, but with the aid of a broomstick that I hand them, the ball bounces down successfully. And the game goes on...