We all knew a Donnie Dodgeball. He’d get pegged during a playground game of dodgeball The ball would carom off his back. But he wouldn’t admit it.
The kid on the other team would cry out, “Got ya!” But he would claim he wasn’t hit. Of course, these things happened sometimes. At that point, the rest of the other team would urge, “You’re out!” The fibber, caught, would give in.
Not Donnie Dodgeball. He’d stay put. He’d insist the ball missed.
There were unwritten playground rules to deal with these situations. After a bit, a stubborn player’s own team would declare the player out. That would almost always do the trick.
Not Donnie Dodgeball. He would angrily maintain that he wasn’t hit. His teammates would urge, “C’mon Donnie Dodgeball, what are you doing? You’re out. Get going!”
Donnie Dodgeball would sit down and refuse to leave the court.
You almost had to admire his brazenness. Even though everyone else knew what had happened, everyone saw it, he would dig in. He would get flush, his voice would crack, and his eyes would moisten.
The pressure would build, and eventually the whole force of the fifth grade playground would have to rise against such a player before he would finally get up, unsuccessfully fighting back tears, and tromp off to the side.
Donnie Dodgeball, though, wouldn’t care that he ruined the game for everyone. He would stay on the court all the way through recess or until an aide who had seen the whole thing would have to tell him he was out and to remove himself from the court.
As time passed and you thought it over, there would be other incidents like this throughout Donnie Dodgeball’s life. Cheating in school. Shortcuts. Pettiness. He wasn’t hated–in fact some people like him–but most knew he was a cheater and he couldn’t be trusted.
Sometimes you would run into Donnie Dodgeball later in life, maybe in a bar, maybe at a class reunion.
He’d get going and he would voice all of the transgressions the world had committed against him, tell you about all the stupid people he hates. You would see the color rise in his face again.
He’d badmouth his wife, complain about his job. It was all same day, different shit.
You’d sit and listen and watch, and you would think back to Donnie Dodgeball sitting defiantly on the playground, bathed in hot tears, and realize you knew who he was all along.