It took six hours to assemble our new basketball backboard and bracket. Thanks to instructions compiled by competing factions of preschoolers, those six hours transpired thus: two hours of making progress; two hours of undoing my supposed progress; and two hours of actual assembly, incorporating all I learned about the deficiencies of the instructions during the previous four hours.
Next came two hours of removing the rust-encrusted, old hardware from the pole. This didn’t come with instructions, which is why it did not require six hours. It would have taken less time if I’d been swift enough to cut through the bolts sooner, rather than waste time tugging at intractable nuts. The time I wasted tugging at intractable nuts is embarrassing.
It was all worth it. My son loves the new backboard.
He wants to play basketball all the time now. I can see the hoop dreams in his eyes as he calls dibs, “I’m gonna be Michigan State!” Then he wants to know if I want to be the University of Michigan. I’d be justified in spanking him for even asking such a question, but I just roll my eyes.
“Or do you want to play Olympics?” he asks, sensing my disgust at his previous suggestion.
“Let’s play Olympics.”
“Okay. I’m Germany.” If you were five and saw a picture of your great-grandfather wearing his Pickelhaube, you’d want to be Germany too. “Do you want to be your favorite country?”
“You mean the one in live in?”
“Okay. You’re USA.”
The thing to know about “Olympic” basketball is that Germany always keeps score. And he doesn’t do it by the generally accepted principles of addition.
The rules of international play are foreign to those familiar with American basketball, and arithmetic. When Germany falls behind, the scores are sometimes transposed, magically jumping him into the lead. Germany’s opponent is not allowed to “get in the way” of Germany’s shot. Germany gets extra points for an otherwise routine shot if his heels are on a particular crack in the concrete.
When Germany is off on a juice break, any shots his opponent makes don’t count, but when that same opponent steps away to attend to one of Germany’s little brothers, Germany is free to rack up points in his absence.
Germany’s opponent sometimes gets points deducted from his score for inadequate deference to the need for Germany to have the most points by the end of the game.
But I have a say in the rules too. Being a stickler for such things, I insist Germany dribbles the ball occasionally as he moves about the court. To his credit, Germany complies, whenever he doesn’t forget.
At one point, Germany actually let himself fall behind in a game. I grew concerned that his endurance was flagging. But he rallied, creatively score-keeping his way back into the lead.
Germany is undefeated, having bested the USA, Mexico, Canada, and Italy. I haven’t decided what nation I’ll select to be his next victim.