BugWars…Playing Ball in South Arkansas

May 1, 2012 | By More

I so love being from the South. There are things that happen here that just would not happen anywhere else. I hope I can convey this story properly because I am telling you, it is right out of a Hollywood movie script.

It involves a small town in the middle of nowhere, baseball games in the ‘Hotter than Hades’ summer sun, bugs big enough to carry you off, a truck spraying bug spray with a fog so thick it enveloped small children, enough citronella candles to make it look like some kind of religious ceremony, and my favorite thing of all — the “Jesus fans” supplied by the local funeral home. Can you see it!? Let me help you just a little.

When my boys were younger, baseball consumed our summers. Now our oldest, Adrin, was not much of a baseball player. It moved just a little too slow for him. He had more fun going out in the outfield and looking for lost coins than he did playing the game. But the younger two, Dillon and Payton, loved it. They would make the All- Star team every year, which meant we were playing ball until at least mid-July.

Trust me, if you are a baseball parent long enough at some point you will ask the question, “Why are we playing the tournament in …?”

Fill in the blank here. Pick any small town that no one has ever heard of, that is noteasytogetto,andisatleast20to30 minutes from anything that resembles a real city. Now, thankfully not every tournament is like this, but you are not a real baseball parent until you have been to one of the “where are we playing?” tournaments. The good thing about these tournaments is they will provide you with enough stories to last a life time. Here is mine.

The 10-year-old State All-Star tournament was to be played in Lake Village, Arkansas, population 2,364! For those of you who don’t know, Lake Village is the last town at the bottom right-hand side of the state. One would think that you would try to hold a State tournament is a centralized location with enough accommodations to actually accommodate those attending the tournament. Apparently not!

If I remember correctly there was only one hotel in Lake Village, which meant the majority of those involved with the tournament would need to make accommodations in the adjoining state of Mississippi. I am not making this up. Seriously, just go past Lake Village, take a left and you are in Mississippi.

Just a side note: I am a southern girl and I can understand just about any Southern accent you throw at me. Y’all do know we don’t all have the same “Southern accent” right? Each state has its own twist.

But there is a southern accent in Greenville, Mississippi, that is downright unintelligible. (I know, big word for a Southern girl) We tried to order a meal at a McDonald’s drive through window and literally could not communicate with the young girl at the window. That whole scene was right out of a movie as well!

Back to the tournament: I had never spent any time in Southern Arkansas so some of my friends warned me about the mosquitoes. They said, “They grow them big down there.” They were not lying. We would sweat to near death during the day and then endure a plague attack of bugs at night.

Imagine with me, except remember this is all true, dusk is beginning to fall. You look up at the lights on the baseball field and you see this cloud descending toward you. At first you are trying to figure out what it is and then all of a sudden you are blanketed with bugs.

It happened every night! You could see the kids, especially in the outfield swatting feverously to get them away from their faces. Just about that time here came the “bug truck.” It would drive along the outfield fence and spray this fog to dissipate the
bugs. That fog was so thick that it shrouded the outfielders from view. For a moment
we mommas questioned if it was safe for the boys to be breathing that in. But because we were fighting the bugs too, it became every man for himself.

Because bugs do not go well with big hair, hairspray, or lip gloss, we mommas were not going to go down quietly in our fight with the bugs. We emptied every store in that little town and a few in Mississippi of bug spray and citronella candles. If we could have found torches we would have surrounded the ball complex with them.

The next night, just before sun down, we broke out the spray and the candles. After bathing in bug spray, we strategically place the candles in a circle around each of our lawn chairs. We then sat back waiting for the cloud to appear, daring the bugs to try and reach us. And appear it did.

I swear if you have never seen a cloud of bugs descend in this manner, it is worth the trip just to view this sight for yourself. It is straight out of a science fiction movie.

I wish I could say we won, but there were just too many of them.

This is where my favorite part of the story comes in. It’s July, saying “it’s hot” is an understatement. The town people noticed we were miserable, so the funeral home came around and passed out fans.

Now y’all, that is just sweet isn’t it? But these were not just any fans, these were Jesus fans! Please try and get a picture of this in your mind: Mommas in their lawn chairs, glistening with bug spray, encircled by citronella candles, desperately fanning themselves with Jesus fans. A sight to behold. I kept looking around for the director to yell, “action.” It was perfectly staged for a scene in a movie about life in the South.

I have kept that Jesus fan for the past twelve years, because you just can’t make this stuff up. Play ball!

 

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