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Laugh Lines

Little Girl Soccer and a Really Peeved Cocker

November 01, 1996|CHRIS ERSKINE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

It's 7 a.m. on a soccer Saturday, and the little girl's sock is missing.

"Dad, we're going to be late," she says.

"Maybe we could just paint your leg pink," I say.

"Dad!"

"Where's my pink paint?" I say, pretending to look under the bed.

"Dad!"

The soccer sock, big and pink as a fat man's arm, should be easy to find. It's big. It's pink.

"I'll bet he knows where your sock is," I say, pointing to the dog that just appeared in the doorway.

"Well?"

But the dog isn't talking. As usual, he just sits and stares, lying to me with his eyes.

The cocker spaniel has been doing a lot of that since he got that Tori Spelling haircut three weeks ago. He's bitter. Uncommunicative. As if a Tori Spelling haircut could ruin your whole life or something.

"Hey Tori, find me the sock," I order.

The dog just sits there blinking his cocker spaniel eyes. Then he tilts his cocker spaniel head. Then he tilts it the other way.

He is having, I suspect, what passes for an epiphany for a cocker spaniel. He is wondering, in his little doggy brain, how I got to be the master and he got to be the dog. It's a valid question.

"Dad?" the little girl pleads.

So now I have two sets of brown eyes staring right at me. One belongs to a dog having an epiphany; the other to a little girl who thinks I'm going to paint her leg pink.

You should know, not all my Saturdays are like this.

Most don't start off nearly this well.

Mercifully, the sock finally shows up--in the car, of course--and we're off to the field.

Today's game is a big one, featuring two of the toughest teams in little-girl soccer: the Purple Pocahontases and the Pink Kittens.

We arrive to find several 5-year-olds huddled together, discussing soccer:

"I hate boys."

"Me too.

"Boys. Yuck."

"Yeah. Yuck."

"Your brother's kind of cute."

"My brother? Oh, yuck!"

On that last yuck, the Pink Kittens take the field. A whistle blows and the game begins.

The Pink Kittens open the game with their much-heralded bathroom offense. The bathroom offense, in case you've never seen it, consists of the players running one at a time to the sideline and telling their mothers that they need to go to the bathroom. Immediately. As in now.

First spectator: Where are they all going?

Second spectator: To the bathroom. It's their bathroom offense.

First spectator: Wow.

Second spectator: Yeah. I think we invented it.

First spectator: But there's no one left. The other team could score.

Second spectator: Just watch.

As usual, the bathroom offense so confuses our opponents that they too adopt the bathroom offense.

At halftime, the game is scoreless. But everybody is feeling much better, thank you.

In the second half, the Pink Kittens switch to the more traditional beehive offense. The beehive offense, in case you've never seen it, consists of the players surrounding the ball and attempting to kick it all at once until enough opposing players fall on their butts or get bored and walk away to chase butterflies.

The ultimate goal of the beehive offense is to kill time until the game ends and everyone can eat some Rice Krispie Treats and go home. Postgame treats are what little-girl soccer is all about.

"Go Pink Kittens!"

"Go Purple Pocahontases!"

Not surprisingly, the Purple Pocahontases are also using the beehive offense, resulting in some kind of beehive stalemate at midfield.

First spectator: Anybody seen the ball lately?

Second spectator: No, but I see a dog with a Tori Spelling haircut.

First spectator: Where?

Second spectator: Over there. Eating all the Rice Krispie Treats.

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