"That's not how you do it," exclaimed seven-year-old Jimmy from next door. He glared over the fence at Billy, who was two years younger. "I'm coming over and show you."
Billy took a few more swings at the rubber ball parked on the top of the tee-ball tee while he waited for Jimmy to arrive. He nicked it once, and it rolled several feet along the ground.
"Why you practicing tee-ball anyway?" asked Jimmy as he came through the gate from the front.
"Daddy signed me up. He said I start in a coupla weeks."
"You ever played before?"
"Well, I've played the last two years. I know how to do it. Give me that." He took the bat from Billy's hands and put the ball back on the tee. "This is what you do." After lining the bat up, he pulled back and took a cut at it; it didn't move. "Well, kinda like that. I gotta practice."
Billy watched the practice swings and figured that lining up the bat with the ball had to be important.
"Okay, I'm gonna do it for real," said Jimmy. He put the bat behind the ball with care, his face a study in concentration. After a moment, he drew the bat back, held the pose, then pulled the trigger. The ball sailed high into the air as the tee toppled over.
"Whoa!" shouted Billy as he pointed. "Look at it go!" Then he clapped his hands.
Jimmy was not so pleased, because the ball landed on the other side of the fence. Laying the bat down, he said, "I better go get it, `cause it's my yard."
As Jimmy ran off, Billy stood the tee back up and retrieved the bat. He tried lining it up with where the ball would be, then taking a swing. "I wanna try," he said when Jimmy returned.
"Okay, and I'll watch." Swing and whiff. "Not like that, dumbhead."
"I'm not a dumbhead!"
"Whatever. Gimme that, and I'll show you." He took the bat and grasped the handle. "See; you gotta hold it like this." He turned to the tee. "Then you gotta stand like this; you know, bend the knees like this and stuff." He tapped the base of the tee with the bat.
"Why'd you do that?" Billy asked.
"The batters on TV do it all the time."
"Now, when you swing, you gotta go like this." He brought the bat back, held it, and swung. He spun around this time, and the ball dribbled over under the lilac bush. "I didn't wanna hit into my yard again."
"Yeah. Can I try?"
"You bet. Get the ball first."
Once Billy had put the ball back on the tee, Jamie got him into the correct pose. Billy drew the bat back stiffly, swung, and missed completely. He spun around and sat down.
"That better?" he asked, smiling.
Jimmy laughed. "This is what you looked like."
He went through each step that Billy had taken, exaggerating them, and drawing plenty of giggles from Billy when he collapsed on the grass.
"Lemme try again," Billy said as he got up.
"Billy," called his mother from the side door. "Time to come in for supper."
"Okay, Mom." He came into the house. "Jamie taught me lotsa stuff."
"Yes, I heard. Now, wash your hands." She turned to the counter where she was doing final preparations. "The blind leading the blind," she muttered.
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