Practice Makes Perfect

I hate sports analogies.

I’m not one of those writers who thinks ‘striking out’ is a witty alternative to say that your pompous attitude and vicious ego caused you to go home sans nookie. Nor will you ever hear me use the 1980 US Hockey team in an inspirational post. Those motivational posters at the mall with the cyclist pedaling up a hill, the sun setting in the background? CHEE-zy. Nope, not for me.

So imagine my surprise when I found myself comparing sports and love at a dinner last night. In the midst of a carafe of chianti, in the company of dear friends, I found myself waxing poetic on the subject, and despite my prior aversion to the practice, it made sense.

It MAKES sense.

Dating is the only game where, before you succeed, you lose every single time. It bucks the odds – in any sport, where do you lose EVERY game and not quit the team? If you were to strike out at every at-bat, would you keep going up there and swinging for the field? Probably not. But dating, perhaps because its outcome is hypothetically and proverbially “worth it”, is the outlier. It beckons the hardy, the road-weary, the tiresome. It encompasses us all – from the smallest runt to the largest brute – and invites us in its banter. Dating – and its close-cousin Love – are liken to today’s Texas-Hold ‘Em poker invasion, with just about everyone throwing their name in the hat.

That’s not to say it doesn’t involve practice – just like any good sport, you have to work at it, going through the motions again and again until you think you’ve got it just right, only to find yourself up at the plate connecting with only air. That’s also not to say that the practice isn’t fun – in fact, practice doesn’t always seem like work! You can forget you’re actually playing a game, but – as many of you would agree – love is the ultimate game whether we like it or not. Yet despite our trouble, our toil, our resilience, until we finally hit the ball out of the park to win the game, we remain – sadly – lost.

I’m a persistent type of gal. I lost more grade school elections than one should and still continued to sign up each fall on the poster board in the hallway. I’m ridiculously tone-deaf yet always auditioned for a solo. As a (pseudo) adult I’ve had my heart broken so many times I thought I’d never recover yet again am held captive by the lure of the dream, instantly forgetting how it felt to cry myself to sleep. If it was any other sport, I would have long ago hung up my skates, thrown down my glove, bent my golf club out of repeated failure – but it’s not. I – and perhaps you – continue to get up there, head held high, and give it another shot, hoping this time will be the exception to the rule, crossing my fingers that it’ll be MY name they announce on the intercom. In the meantime, however, I’ll be busy practicing.

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