RECEPTIONIST: Maternity ward, may I help you?

CALLER: Yes, I’m calling about my son. He was born at your hospital in 2011, and I was wondering if I might be able to speak to someone about something.

RECEPTIONIST: What is it that you’re calling about, exactly?

CALLER: My son has turned into a sporty kid.

RECEPTIONIST: I’m sorry, did you say you have a spotty kid? This seems like a matter for his pediatrician.

CALLER: No. He’s sporty. As in, athletic.

RECEPTIONIST: I’m sorry, but we really can’t—

CALLER: He led his youth basketball team in three-point shooting last fall.

RECEPTIONIST: Ma’am, what exactly is the problem?

CALLER: My son is… really good at sports. Like, all of them.


CALLER: Basketball. Soccer. Baseball. Football. And now he’s taken up tennis because it’s the perfect social-distancing sport. And he’s amazing at it!

RECEPTIONIST: This doesn’t seem like something the hospital would be concerned with.

CALLER: Well, I want to make sure he wasn’t switched at birth. He’s really fast! I can barely walk quickly. And he’s got amazing hand-eye coordination! People say to me all the time, “Wow, your son is really good at sports!” And what can I say? “Thank you”? I take zero credit for his athletic ability. It did NOT come from me. His father isn’t particularly athletic either.

RECEPTIONIST: I can assure you we go to great pains to make sure no babies are switched when they are born here. We are very, very careful about this sort of thing. It is highly unlikely that your son was switched at birth.

CALLER: Could you maybe just check to make sure some other parents, who are outgoing and athletic, haven’t called because their child is a sensitive, shy sort? Maybe they have a creative kid who loves to read and has never broken a sweat? I’m an artist. My husband is a poet! How the hell did we end up with a sporty kid?! Do you know what this means? I’ll have to attend basketball games at 9 AM on Saturdays. NINE AM.

RECEPTIONIST: I’m sorry to hear that, ma’am. I truly am. But—

CALLER: When he’s not playing sports, he watches them! His entire wardrobe consists of sports jerseys and athleisure. Entire weekends are devoted to travel soccer. I had to go to Randall’s Island for a soccer game. I used to go there to see cool bands! I saw Arcade Fire and LCD Soundsystem there. And Lollapalooza! That was back when we used to call it “alternative music.” Remember that?

RECEPTIONIST: Ma’am, I am familiar with the term. However—

CALLER: And look at me now!!!! I have a frequent shopper’s card at a place called “Dick’s Sporting Goods.” Last time I shopped there I got 10 bucks off, though.

RECEPTIONIST: That doesn’t sound like such a terrible thing.


RECEPTIONIST: I’m sorry, ma’am?

CALLER: A goth! I listened to the Cure and Bauhaus and Sisters of Mercy and wore all black! I didn’t hang out with jocks! My friends — the few that I had — and I were staunchly opposed to sports culture!!!

RECEPTIONIST: Ma’am, have you considered that maybe sports aren’t inherently bad?

CALLER: What do you mean?

RECEPTIONIST: You know, sports bring people together. They keep kids active. They encourage teamwork and confidence building.

CALLER: (deep sigh). I guess… maybe you have a point.

RECEPTIONIST: Have you ever played a team sport?

CALLER: Not unless you count diving into a mosh pit, no.

RECEPTIONIST: And how would you describe your physique?

CALLER: (mumbling) Probably below average.

RECEPTIONIST: Your stamina?

CALLER: (mumbling) Almost nonexistent.

RECEPTIONIST: How are your reflexes?

CALLER: I don’t know. Not great, I guess.

RECEPTIONIST: Is your cholesterol maybe a little on the high side?

CALLER: I mean… how did you know that?

RECEPTIONIST: And what about your attitude? Do you work well with others?

CALLER: (sigh) No, I do not.

RECEPTIONIST: Mmm-hmm. And how do you feel about teenagers doing things like going into the woods at night and drinking alcohol, and vaping?

CALLER: I’m staunchly opposed to those things!

RECEPTIONIST: Are those things worse than playing sports?

CALLER: Well, uh, yeah, of course.

RECEPTIONIST: Did you know team sports are associated with improved academic performance?

CALLER: Wow. Really?

RECEPTIONIST: Have you ever stopped to consider that maybe your old notions of people being either “jocks” or “intellectuals” is outmoded and reduces people to stereotypes and that people can contain multitudes?

CALLER: Did you just reference Walt Whitman?

RECEPTIONIST: We just discussed not stereotyping people.

CALLER: Sorry.

RECEPTIONIST: Ma’am, I’m going to recommend you hang up and go buy your kid a nice, new soccer ball.

CALLER: He already has five soccer balls.

RECEPTIONIST: Maybe some new cleats, then.

CALLER: He has those.

RECEPTIONIST: Hockey stick?

CALLER: You haven’t seen my hall closet. It’s overflowing with sports equipment.

RECEPTIONIST: That sounds like a problem for the Container Store, not the hospital where your son was born.

CALLER: I guess you’re right.

RECEPTIONIST: You have a nice day, ma’am.

CALLER: Wait, one more thing.

RECEPTIONIST: (sigh) Go ahead.

CALLER: I actually just signed up for tennis lessons in order to be better at playing tennis with my son. Hello? Hello? Are you still there?