"Yes" is the New Curse Word

By , Des Moines, IA
It was freezing cold and rain was pouring down. I had the pleasure, of course, of playing soccer in this gorgeous weather because the team we were playing was privileged enough to have a turf field that could be played on in any weather. To make matters worse, I had already played a full game before this so I was drenched and I had taken a 3 hour AP test earlier that day. I was in a fantastic mood, obviously.
At first we weren’t sure if we could play because we saw lightning so we had to wait in the locker room while the referees “evaluated” whether or not it was safe. I was cold, wet, and hungry so I just wanted to go home. I prayed for the referees to call the game off, but the weatherman said the worst was over so we were sent back out into the frigid rain. Then the real torture began because 9 minutes into the game the other team had already scored 2 goals on us and we felt defeated. Then we saw lightning again, so we ran back into the locker rooms. Our coach was furious with us so he was planning on giving a nice angry speech while we had to wait 30 more minutes for another “evaluation.” However, after 10 minutes I guess the referees wanted to go home too because they called it off and when our assistant coach ran back in after talking to them and gestured that we were done I couldn’t control my relief and let out a loud “YES!”
I didn’t realize that it was going to come out so loudly and then I knew the end was near. Coach gave me a glaring death stare, capable of exploding any bodybuilder into dust or tears, and told me to grab my stuff and get out! I was so shocked by his harshness that he had to repeat himself before I finally left. I couldn’t believe how forcefully he had reacted…as if I had yelled a curse word during his speech! I went back out into the rain and burst into tears. Then I cried the whole way home, while driving in the pouring rain-not exactly something recommended in the driver’s ed. books. I yelled at myself for opening my big fat mouth and wondered why it had to always be me who had such rotten luck. I begged God, literally, to make Coach forgive me because I knew that he was going to make me pay for saying anything. When I finally got home, surprisingly safe and sound, I tried to tell my mom what happened but I burst into tears, again, and hugged her tightly instead. I cried most of the night too; I never knew I had so many tears! Who knew that things were only going to get worse?
The next day at school I went to my French class and found out from a fellow classmate/teammate that Coach had been even angrier after my verbal slip than I had thought and had used me as an example of a lack of focus and dedication to the team…great. I knew then that I definitely had to go talk to him and personally apologize. So after French, I walked slowly, with a crushing sense of dread, through the school hallways practicing the apology I was going to make. Then I arrived at his classroom door, hesitated with my hand on the door handle, took a deep breath, told myself to stop being a coward, and opened the door.
As soon as I entered his realm, his wide looming figure of over 6 feet overwhelmed me to the point where I couldn’t put two words together without bawling like a baby. To add more to my humiliation, there were students in his classroom to witness it. He gestured that we go out into the hall and I tried to recover my composure and start again, but I couldn’t help myself. I couldn’t stop crying as he looked down on me with judgmental eyes filled with what seemed like barely controlled hatred. Then he told me how “brave it was for me to come admit that I was wrong,” with a hint of contempt, and told me that if I hadn’t come to apologize to him by noon, he would’ve kicked me off the team! To make matters worse, he told me that I needed to apologize to the whole team too, which is an impossible feat for an incredibly shy person like me!
That apology went just as well as the first except I didn’t have to deal with a tall, hostile audience. Right before practice he gestured that it was time for my speech and I got up there thinking it would be easy- 30 teenage girls were much less intimidating than his threatening figure…but I started to choke on tears again!! How was it that my eyes hadn’t completely dried up yet? I barely got through saying “I’m sorry” before I couldn’t speak through the tears. Luckily, a teammate came to my rescue and told me “It’s okay” which I knew, but I just couldn’t help myself.
I knew that few, if any, of my teammates were really “angry” with me at all and that in actuality, most of them had been thinking the same thing that I had so stupidly said aloud. They were shocked, and some were actually angered, by how harsh and cruel he had been to me. Even today, I’m still haunted by my slip and I can tell that he won’t truly forgive and forget for quite some time.


Even a harmless, frequently used word can be deadly to its speaker if used in the wrong context.

“Handle them carefully, for words have more power than atom bombs” (Strachan).





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