[lit-ideas] Re: Sunday Poem

  • From: david ritchie <ritchierd@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sat, 7 Jan 2006 23:45:20 -0800

The rules of tennis, as played on men's night at the club

Be nice.
Be polite.
Remember, it's only a game.

You may not call a ball "out" merely to score a point.
A ball is out if only one person in the four says it is out,
no argument...
except when the person who hit the ball is new to the club,
or hasn't been hitting the ball well,
(and so doesn't deserve a break)
or you just don't like him,
and want to make a point.

It is illegal to step inside the court before you have served the ball,
but identifying this error--
calling the foot fault--
would be a misstep.

It is important not to seem to want victory too much.
One outward sign would be to avoid dressing in any co-ordinated manner,
to avoid all attempts to look fashionable,
and anything that mimics circuit clothing.
Using the same racket your favorite pro uses is perfectly acceptable,
providing that the pro in question is certifiably male.
Even men who dink balls over,
those who cut where testosterone would drive,
may not play with known "girlie" rackets,
or ones that are out of fashion.

Off the court, conversation should be limited to the following subjects:
the Game (see T.V. in waiting area for details),
how business is,
how last week was,
how tennis is.

Talking about which waft and weave of gut or NXT results in the best lob,
is fine,
but, remember, this isn't golf;
people aren't interested in equipment.
If in doubt,
think Eastwood,
shut up and watch "the Game."

On the court, muttering to yourself is normal;
shouting a la McEnroe is not.
Note that only women grunt when serving.
The temptation to give advice on how to fix your partner's game must at all costs be resisted
unless the set score is dire.
At that moment,
you may offer one,
and only one,
short surefire tip--
"A looser grip sometimes helps."

You must play in the fours the pro proposes.
Afterwards, if no one is close, and she's stringing rackets,
you can ask her sotto voce,
never to put you in with that crummy lot again,
but don't get your hopes up.

Between points, send the three balls gently over the net to the server and his partner.
It is bad form to drive them full force,
or to attempt to incapacitate your opponents with round yellow missiles.
After you have missed a shot, it is quite normal to replay it,
to show everyone how it should have happened,
the way you might have moved
had it not been for the irritating presence of that ball.

Finally, two things to remember about playing with the big boys:
one, everyone is big--
especially those who are small--
and two, many guys are still boys...
grey hairs, skinny butts, guts and all.

David Ritchie
Portland, Oregon

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