About two years ago I saw an ad in the local paper about a clinic where you could learn to play pickleball. It, and I mean pickleball-not the clinic, is all the rage in the area where I live so I thought I’d give it a try. At the end of the session, a few of the ladies invited me to play a game or two with them on Friday mornings. I couldn’t often go because of work but after just a few visits, I could clearly see the future.
As the new kid on the block, I was asked a litany of questions the first few times I showed up at the court. I noticed a pattern to the line of questioning I received every time I met someone new. “Where do you live?” was always the first question. It seemed the answer determined your status and eligibility to keep playing on Friday mornings. If I answered the question correctly, the judger would move onto the next, and the next, and the next. If not, she would stop and tell me I was the first to sit out because we had too many players-well, not really, but that sounded pretty good-like something that would happen in high school gym class with Okie.
Anyway, the series of questions was pretty standard so after awhile, I could anticipate the next one. It was like they got together before heading to the courts and practiced what they wanted to ask. There was one question I didn’t particularly like because it made me think something not-so-funny happened on the way to the forum. One of the many little white haired and tanned ladies wearing a Home Depot belt as a ball holder and sporting her shorts inside out would ask, “And what did you do in your former life?” Every time I heard it I would think, “Did something happen? Am I dead? Why are you asking me about my ‘former’ life? This is my former life; the one I’m currently living where I get up, go to work, make dinner, watch TV, go to bed, and fit in a little pickleball every now and again.” And then it dawned on me. That was why every Friday was open for them-none of them worked and from what I could gather, most of them never did because they didn’t have to. Needless to say, I dropped a few pegs on the status board when I said I was still living my former life and so was my husband.
After court adjourned and I was finally allowed to play, we took our places and got down to business. I was there to play. They were there to say they played. While I was new to the game, I knew it was a competition; one team against another and one team would win. But there was no competition. If a player made a good shot, she would apologize; “Oh, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to do that. I just couldn’t help myself.” “Didn’t meant to do that?” I thought, “You’re playing a game and you didn’t mean to score? You were more aggressive with your line of questioning before the game. Stop this southern charm crap that I know is fake and play the frickin game.” But they’d just smile and when tired, call for a break so they could check their iPADs for the latest message.
I quit playing pickleball on Friday mornings. I saw the future and I didn’t like it.
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Sounds like you need a wall. After growing out of roller skates and tiring of the pogo stick, many tennis balls were hit off the side of the house from the patio. No apologies for good hits, no questions asked, just you and the wall.
Ha! Those were the days. Solo was good. No judges, recorders, or reporters. Eliza G.