The initial conditions
Me, Abbas, Ms. Morrison, jockstraps & Chaos Thoery
July 31, 2007
The most popular way to describe the Chaos Theory is that a butterfly's wings fluttering might create tiny changes in the atmosphere that ultimately cause a tornado to appear (or, for that matter, prevent a tornado from appearing). The flapping wing represents a small change in the initial condition of the system, which causes a chain of events leading to large-scale phenomena. Had the butterfly not flapped its wings, the final outcome and its consequences would have been vastly different.
Gently pressing the spot between side of his right foot and and top of his toes, I said: "Look son, if you want to get power and accuracy you simply have to shoot the ball with the front third side of your foot. Toe-poking it will give you zero control."
"But, Ronaldo toe-pokes his shots", my 10-year old retorted.
"Not always, that is part of his repertoire."
I placed the ball on the penalty spot: "Wait in the goal... Look, this is how you do it", and with that I shot the ball high and wide over his head onto the top right hand corner.
"I bet you can't do that from the middle", daring me.
"No, but I can do it from outside the penalty box."
"Can I do it", shouted his 6-year old sister who had just finished uprooting the ants' nest on the side-lines.
"No, this is a man's game", retorted her brother.
In the Chaos Theory, the "initial conditions" and the subsequent turn of events are all that matter in the shaping of the final outcome.
Well the initial conditions that started this farce were conspicuously ordinary.
I approached the ball with all the sure footed confidence of a father in front of his adoring 10 and 6 year old childeren and gave it a huge thump. As I completed my approach, my left foot planted just in the perfect spot 35-degrees to the ball with the trailing foot starting its downswing as in text-books, piling up all that invisible momentum that was meant to produce the most perfect banana kick. As the ball left my foot, it produced that sweet thumping sonic boom assuring me that this is the stuff of heroic fathers.
The little boy standing some 30 meters in the centre of the goal post with raised arms had no idea as to what was unfolding.
The trajectory went high, wide and forward, spinning very deliberately. Its path veering out of the frame of the goal-post as far as it could. As the forward speed lessened the spin took over and the ball started to be pulled towards the goal frame.
As the ball was closing down on the goal, it just felt that it is zeroing far too much to the precise center of the goal. It was not supposed to come in and down so much. It should have stayed out there at the top right hand corner path. In that flash of a moment I sensed an instinctive, imminent danger. This ball was hurtling towards where it shouldn't be hurtling towards.
I started to run towards the goal, the trajectory zeroed in like a laser guided ballistic missile and hit the poor unsuspecting kid on the most unfathomably sensitive part of his manhood.
He was rolling on the ground in total agony, sobbing: "Why didn't I cover my poor willy!"
I was thinking: What sort of an idiot would kick a ball straight onto his presumed guarantee for gene survival?
Later on that night, I explained to him that we would go and buy him a protective guard so that he would not be hurt next time there is a meeting of balls. I had a certain degree of difficulty in explaining to him the full scope and functions of a jockstrap.
"I've never seen anybody wearing them in our school Team", innocently quipped my son.
These are worn by men, not boys. Little did I know that with this blasé statement, I had inadvertently set off the most humiliating chain of events. Was this the initial conditions for what was to come.
Systems that exhibit mathematical chaos are deterministic and thus orderly in some sense; this technical use of the word chaos is at odds with common parlance, which suggests complete disorder.
All that I can say is that the specific turn of events that I am about to tell couldn't possibly be deterministic except in the most abstract sense of Chaos Theory.
He has this habit of well .. borrowing (without my knowledge) things to take them to school. Among the things he has taken, are my watch, after-shave, mobile, credit card, ipod, laptop, etc. He told me that he takes this stuff to participate in what the kids call "show 'n tell" which basically is an exhibitionist status-seeking ritual for them to establish some kind of adulthood prestige and territory among their peers. Apparently in his group they all do it and every morning, the kid with the coolest show 'n tell looted gadget pretending to be given him by papa takes the crown until he is toppled by the next worthy contender.
(Background -- we have a minor history, more like a constant retreating battle, with the school on his exuberant conduct)
Fast forward, yesterday morning, the phone rings...
Caller: "Mr. Hamshari, this is Ms. Morrison, Abbas's school head-teacher... "
Me (now stammering): "Ye es, Ms. Morrison!"
Ms. Morrison: "I am afraid your son's conduct at today's morning break is simply unacceptable and a new precedent in unruly behavior. I do recall that we have had this conversation a number of times, and despite your verbal pledges, no improvement has been forthcoming."
Me (swallowing hard): "Yes, but, what's happened, what has he done this time?"
Ms. Morrison (extremely patronizing): "Well, according to some accounts, he has flashed, according to others he has exposed himself."
Me (wishing the floor underneath my feet to open and swallow me whole): "WHAT? Flashed, exposed.... WHAT flashed/exposed?"
Ms. Morrison: "Mr. Hamshari, may I suggest that you know precisely what I mean."
Me: "Well, ma'am all sorts of things come to mind, but I am afraid I don't know what you are referring to."
Ms. Morrison: "In which case, I do request the pleasure of your company - and Mr. Hamshari - I mean this morning as master Abbas would not be attending classes until this issue has been resolved once n' for all."
Me: "Yes ma'am, right away, ma'am."
Ms. Morrison's phone -- smashed onto its cradle. Zap, the fastest 25 minutes instant, before I was over at the school reception being absolutely flabbergasted by the nonchalant expression on my sons face as he had slumbered on a kindergarten type of sofa with that glint in his eyes that I first noticed when he was barely over 20 hours old -- same old pedar sookhteh expression.
Simultaneously we both tried to quiz each other, him on what's all this fuss about, and I on the reasons why I feel my world had abruptly ended 25 minutes ago. Predictably we simply sailed over each others grasp of the occasion.
I had to wait the obligatory 5 minutes before I was hauled over in front of her imperial majesty, Ms. Morrison. She had made it abundantly clear to me in the past that she enjoys making me sweat it out before offering me a seat. This time I was feeling so weak on the old knees that I asked for a seat before even saying hello. It must have been the deathly look on my face that she took pity on and agreed for me to sit before she started on her now customary lecture on the high moral principals of this particular educational establishment.
She was not paying the slightest acknowledgment to my presence 2 feet away from her petit nose but looking over my right shoulder and through her wide open door at my son lounging at the reception. No doubt he had his head bowed, with his hawk eyes completely slanted up and ears finely tuned to our one-sided conversation.
When the lecture was over, I felt an invisible shadow behind me move to the adjoining door and softly closing it. Whoever this shadow was, she must have left it slightly ajar, as I could still sense my son's eyes on the back of my neck.
Mrs. Gerald, (resonated Ms. Morrison's voice with a softer undertone, this time in total control of all that lies before her, not least poor old me that by this time was reduced to a mere insignificant blot on that meticulously laid scene): "We do require the door closed for this ONE."
With that, the door was shut airtight, and it felt my world has succumbed to the same fate. Only when I gathered enough of my now dangerously depleted wit, I sensed and got the distinct impression of this being a well planned and much exercised drill. No doubt many a hapless parents had been subjected to precisely the same routine. But something about the way in which Ms. Morrison said this "ONE" compelled me to sense imminent humiliation. Flashed, exposed, and "ONE" pulling me towards the unknown vastness of fear territory.
Ms. Morrison compassionately decided not to prolong my misery any further and proceeded forth: "Now, Mr. Hamshari, today at break time, my colleagues and I plus at least 200 children had to endure an unscheduled exhibition by Abbas in his jockstrap..." (at this point my chin hit the floor just in front of my shoes)..
"My question to you is: Do you think that children sometimes as young as Abbas's sibling (my 6 year old daughter whom happens to be at the same school) should be subjected to these types of experiences at that age?"
(I have now managed a microscopic amount of composure). "But Ms. Morrison, to tell you the truth, I am at a total loss as to what you are talking about, what jockstrap? Who? Abbas? Never... "
"Well, as it happens, we have the offending article here. As she proceeded to lift the wretched garment with the aid of a pencil tip, I felt an ice-cold sweat descending my spine curvature as I instantly recognized my old inscribed football strap that I had kept all these years for prosperity."
Having suffered by being hit three times in the groin region in one match, my thoughtful teammates clubbed together and presented me with a jockstrap inscribed on the waistband portion with Amat victoria curam - Victory favors those who take pains insignia.
Who would have thought that an impulse to keep my trophy all these years would lead to irrefutably manifest the basic tenet of the chaos theory?
Last time I used that wretched garment was over 10 years ago, shortly before three of my discs popped out when I was doggedly refusing to believe that I am no longer a spring lamb and continued to prance around the football field.
But, wait one moment, what was my old jock strap doing on Ms. Morrison's imitation mahogany?
On rummaging through my old stuff my 10-year old son had come across my old football kit, which he laid a claim on immediately on grounds of having discovered them. Among his newly found booty there was the old jockstrap of mine.
After some detailed recounting I finally arrived at my eureka moment: Abbas had decided to take my ancient jock strap to school for his "show n tell" and was very pleased with himself as he had won the day's contest hands down. During the mid-day school break, he had taken it upon himself to press his agenda on a wider audience and not limit himself to his group, but virtually to the whole school.
At the conclusion of my total humiliation, Abbas was insistent to have the strap returned. Ms. Morrison finally showed some faint indication of a wry smile when I asked for the strap back on grounds of ... sentimental value, to which she said sarcastically, "... sentimental value to Abbas... after all, he would remember this day for the rest of his life. Wouldn't you? Do not even allow yourself to doubt that! Mr. Hamshari."