Friday, April 13, 2012

Thoughts about life and work

In have come to enjoy my Friday mornings.  After I write, I go to my local senior center and play table tennis; I'm a senior. “I’m going to go down there and whup some old folks asses.” I told my friend jokingly.  I first went a couple of week ago.  As I walked in there back then I immediately felt intimidated.  There were three or four old Chinese folks. “I’m doomed” I said to myself.  After all, it’s their game isn’t it?

This morning I wandered in and there he was, the little old man I’d seen playing before but didn’t get the opportunity to study him.  I played a game of doubles which is real fun as it’s quite fast and takes a lot of energy, your sweating in no time. Then the inevitable moment arrived. I was to play Mr. Chan in singles. 

We went to our respective ends.  I stood back for a minute, eyeing him up.  He was a quiet man, polite, couldn’t have weighed more than 150-55 pounds if that and he was older than me, slender, frail looking and not very mobile.  Suddenly a deathly fear overcame me---he was holding the paddle that funky Chinese way that looks looks like your hand is broken and you wouldn’t be able to hit anything.

They have new rules now since I last played.  Instead of five serves each up to 21, you each serve twice and go up to 11.  Then you play best of three or five or something like that. So we flipped for serve and he won the right to serve first.  He scored twice and I got the serve love two down.  I have a real weakness in this game; I have no backhand. As a substitute, I have developed a pretty good   forehand to compensate and I am a pretty aggressive player, plus, my serve is quite good and that overcomes my weakness a bit.

I served two of my best serves and lost two more points to love 4. He’s one of those guys that just stands there and hits everything back.  It’s not pretty, but a few minutes later I lost the game 11 to 0---the humiliation. It was a great morning though and I recommend table tennis to anyone who wants to exercise and have fun too. It's a game where rankings are hard to figure as style of play is so important.

I used to play a guy like that at work, some of my co-workers that read this blog will remember how Roberto played.  It was that same defensive style; he hit everything back.  When he first came to work here his English wasn’t great and he was new to the game.  I beat him pretty good at first.  As he was Latino and like many Latino’s football (Futbal)  is their sport of choice, I would walk over to the board in our workroom where we congregated at the beginning and end of the day and write Mexico 0, Inglaterra 2 referring to the number of games I’d won like they were football games. We had all sorts of national rivalries in that place.

After a while Roberto began to improve and like Mr. Chan he just stood there and stuck his paddle out with that funky grip and hit back everything I threw at him.  Slam, wham, spinners, force 10 gales.  It didn’t matter; he they hit them all  back and never break a sweat.  Then the day I dreaded was upon me. Roberto beat me three games.  After the third game he looks across the net at me and in English with a thick Mexican accent he says, “Hoos yor daddy now.”

It seems table tennis does wonders for language skills.

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