I was reminded today, tossing Socks's frisbee in the rain (not that she catches it or anything), of a story from my childhood that was very important at the time but which I don't remember telling anyone since. It's a fairly telling incident of my childhood, too.
I often got enthusiastic about some interest or hobby, but often my ability to pursue it was dead-ended by lack of support from my family: no one else to do it with, no money for whatever costs were involved, or more often and most cripplingly, no way to get to wherever one had to go. But with the resilience of youth as yet unjaded, each time I watched one interest crash and burn, I eventually found another.
One summer, around the age of 11 or so, I got into frisbee. That sounds pretty silly now, but this was in the late 70s and frisbee was kind of trendy. And one good thing about frisbee, for me at the time, was that while it was better with someone else it was at least possible to play it alone. I heard about a frisbee tournament being put on by a local park, and begged my parents to take me, and got a sort of wishy-washy agreement, an "okay, we'll see what we can do" kind of thing. That was enough to get me going: I spent the next several weeks practicing for hours a day at accuracy, distance, and maximum time aloft. Most of the time I had no one else to practice with, so I'd just throw at a spot on the fence, or throw for distance and count paces, or throw and count one-Mississippi-two-Mississippi for time aloft. Then run, get the frisbee, and repeat.
As the day of the contest neared I reminded my parents, but they started trying to weasel out of it. They didn't really want to waste a nice summer weekend day on something like this. And they wouldn't even consider just dropping me off, as it was too far out of their way from anywhere they might want to go. By the day of the event, I was all but convinced I wasn't going to get to go.
But there was a miracle: terrible weather! It was pouring that day, just coming down in buckets. Which meant all the other things my parents might have wanted to do were also off, so we went to the park anyway. When we got there, the judges were there, and no one else. No one else had come out in the pouring rain.
Trying to be good sports, the judges let me go through all the events as the sole contestant, dutifilly measured my distances and times aloft, and awarded me the first place prize patch in each category. And I tried my best to get the best score I could in each one, too. And since my sister was there and in a different age category, though she'd barely ever even picked up a frisbee before this, they let her "compete" in her category too, and she came away with precisely the same assortment of prize patches as I did.
The judges told us they'd be trying again the next week, and if the weather was better, there'd be a real genuine competition. So I went back to practicing all week, so I could beat my previous scores. And sure enough, the weather was great. And sure enough, my parents didn't take me. They even seemed annoyed by the idea: they had just taken me last week, how could I expect them to do it two weeks in a row? This frisbee obsession was getting out of hand.
After that, I never played with the frisbee except for the occasional game of catch with a friend. But I moved on to some other fascination soon after, which I also never got to really pursue, I'm sure.