Thursday, June 27, 2002

My wife and I play tennis.

Note that I didn't say we play tennis well. No.

We play. Sometimes not badly, sometimes very badly indeed.

Yesterday we were playing at the rather dilapidated courts of a nearby high school, since our apartment has but two courts for 8,000 residents in our particular hive/collective dwelling space. The green windbreaks on these courts are tattered and torn, the courts are covered with fissures and canals of the sort not usually seen off the surface of the planet Mars, and the playing surface is slanted just enough for you to feel a little peculiar. Not to mention the thick layer of dirt, dust and garbage that lovingly blankets each court, making a little "puff" of potentially lethal microbes fly up from every bounce. As a result, playing there can be kind of a frustrating exercise.

As we played yesterday, I started to get a little frustrated. The ball would sail out of the court, mocking me openly, or lamely die a lonely death in the net. Sometimes, for variety, I would hit the ball off the frame of my racket, making a pleasing "doing!" noise and shooting the ball some fifty feet into the air, and forcing me to run away for fear I would be struck in the head and rendered insensible. So I swore quietly and kept playing.

About halfway into our game, we became aware of a commotion a couple of courts over. Another couple about our age were playing tennis, and the gentleman seemed to be having a hard time keeping it together. You would hear a couple of strikes of racket on ball and then something along the lines of "GODD*M THIS F*CKING GAME!" or "SON OF A B*TCH!" yelled at the top of his lungs (though without the dainty asterisks, I can assure you). This guy was freaking the heck out.

A few minutes passed uneventfully and then he howled something else and hurled his racket on the court. I swear to god this guy was headed for a heart attack in a big way.

One of the best things about it was that his wife was obviously enjoying beating the crap out of him. "Honey, was that in or out?" she would call sweetly as he cursed and jumped up and down. "In or out? In or out?"

Then the guy snaps, and I have never heard anyone put so much venom and spite and hatred into one little word in my entire life: "IN!"

I'm surprised his head didn't explode.

Anyway, we sat on our court, choking back tears of laughter, and it made me think about what a fool I must look when I get frustrated and mad on the court. It's just not worth it.


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