Spring has finally arrived. The crisp overnight air is making way for bright sunshine and singing birds. It’s time to break open the musky bat bag and hit the field. Yes, it’s baseball season all across America, and for beginners, t-ball time.
You are a thirty-two year old mom, happily married, with a little girl and a six year old boy. This will be your first experience as a parent bringing your son to the baseball field and watching him play organized sports. He’s been tossing the ball around the yard since he was four.
Your husband is very athletic and a good teacher. So in addition to throwing, your little guy can catch and hit with ease.
Dad’s away – mom’s on her own
On a brisk Saturday morning in early May, you head to the field. Arriving at the sports complex, you are anxious and even intimidated. There are lots of fields, not just baseball, but soccer and lacrosse as well. There’s even basketball and tennis courts.
You live in a middle to upper class neighborhood with relatively high taxes. You and your husband usually refer to yourselves as the former. But either way, the community as a whole benefits. The township puts a lot of money into improving and maintaining all the public facilities. The fields are perfectly groomed and everything is clean and inviting.
But again, you are understandably apprehensive. You are on your own to manage this first big step for your son. Your husband can’t attend, because he travels regularly for his job, even weekends. Your daughter has just turned five and tends to get rammy if bored. You’re hoping she sees some of her kindergarten friends to keep her entertained. Plus, your son is chomping at the bit to meet up with his team, but you aren’t even sure which one of the thousand baseball fields is his.
And there you stand, like a deer in headlights, at the front gate.
meeting coach benjamin
Just then you hear a calm voice say, “You alright guys? You look a little lost.” For a second, you don’t reply, until you realize the man is talking to you. He’s a good looking guy in his late thirties, and he’s wearing a shirt that reads, “Coach.” You and your son then blurt out in perfect unison, “Where’s the t-ball field?” Then there’s silence.
You notice the guy’s friendly face drains into his neck. You quickly add, “Oh my God! I am so sorry. I think we just yelled at you.” Then his big smile returns and he starts to laugh. He gathers himself and says, “You know what, I should be apologizing. I must have startled you on this important day. Let me make it up to you and escort you all to the t-ball field.”
He puts out his hand and introduces himself. “I’m Coach Benjamin, first name, but you can call me Benny.” You instantly feel at ease. You shake his hand and likewise reveal your names.
All four of you journey down the long path to the t-ball field. You have to make a quick stop three or four times along the way, however, so Benny could glad hand parents and other coaches. It quickly becomes apparent that his charming reputation is known throughout the complex. For a moment, it makes you feel uncomfortable, standing there with this guy who isn’t your husband. But you appreciate his kindness and remain patient.
Finally the t-ball field is in view. Benny turns to your son and says, “Hey Sport, you don’t want to be late for your first practice. How about we run the last bit to the field. I’m sure your mom and sister will be okay.” He looks you in the eyes and says, “You good Mom?” You smile, “Yeah, I think we’ll be alright from here. Go have fun.”
At the field, there is plenty of room to be a spectator, with big bleachers on both sides. But this is the first really nice spring day, and it’s not an actual game. So you and your daughter head towards a sun drenched patch of grass in the deep outfield, far from any balls a six year old could hit. And your daughter has found a couple of her school friends, so they tag along as well.
Five minutes into relaxing on a blanket, and your antsy daughter wants to go to the playground part of the complex. It’s basically for little tykes, and it’s in clear view. This would be the perfect time to decompress and catch up on that book you love. There never seems to be time to read uninterrupted, and you’re only on the fifth chapter.
A little bit of passive flirtation
And true to form, just as you start, a baseball rolls up to your feet. You look up to the silhouette of a man. It’s Coach Benjamin. He reaches down, grabs the ball, and says, “You better be careful out here young lady…and wait ‘til you get to chapter eleven.” He runs off.
Practice has ended, and your son is still bubbling over with excitement. He can’t wait to tell his father how he did, and he keeps going on and on about Coach Benny.
You think day one has been a success as well, so you decide to call Dad on the ride home. You put him on speaker. Your son can hardly contain himself and starts rambling. Your husband says, “Hold on, slow down Sport.” Your son is about to pick up where he left off, but begins instead with, “Hey Dad, you’re just like Coach Benny. He calls me Sport too. And he said I really know my stuff…and he almost hit Mommy with the ball…and…”
Dad jumps in, “You almost got hit with the ball Hun? You alright?” You say, “Yeah, yeah, I’m fine. It was just rolling. I’ll tell you when you get home tonight.”
Dad’s back and a little concerned
Nighttime came and the excitement of the day knocks the kids out early. Dad walks in to the greetings of a dog, and you sitting quietly on the couch under lamplight. You’re husband looks up from man’s best friend and says, “Hello? No hugs and kisses for your hardworking hubby…and where’s the kids?”
You reply, “Shhh, I’m sorry Honey. The kids are sleeping, and I’m literally on the last paragraph of chapter eleven. Benny was not kidding.”
Your husband stands there feeling a bit dumbfounded and asks, “Benny? You mean the baseball coach?” You say, “Yeah, he warned me about chapter eleven.” Your husband shakes his head and wonders to the kitchen for a beer.
The story of the next few weeks is more of the same, and your husband is making a mental note of everything you’re saying. “Benny recommended a new book for me.” “Benny said we should try that new Italian restaurant in town.” “Benny noticed I got my hair cut.” “Benny said we should sign our son up for offseason clinics.”
Is this a Callemonit situation from the husband’s perspective? Coach Benny basically talks to everyone the same, male or female. It’s like he’s running for mayor. Also, he never says anything inappropriate or sexual. Likewise, the wife is just making small talk like she would with one of her girlfriends.
But here’s the problem. The husband is at a disadvantage. His job keeps him away from the baseball field where an attractive man is getting the attention of his wife. And even though Benny, who apparently has a happy marriage himself, isn’t obviously flirting, it’s his passive flirtation that is crossing the line.
Should the husband Callemonit, explaining to his wife how she’s making him jealous? Is it understandable that he’s upset, and should she end the friendship? Or do you think it’s fine to be friends with the other sex outside of marriage?