Sunday, May 2, 2010

King Pong

Brookline, 2005-2006. Parkway Road. Known to house the law firm of Sears, Schaible, Hosseini & Briston. Infamous for its $100 dollar parking spot or the crazy cat lady landlord who tried to have us thrown out or the bat in the kitchen that sent me screaming to my room or the “Lost Winter” of the Sopranos or the fact I spent a good week cleaning up the apartment for the security deposit only to have the cat lady give me the money without even checking the work I had done.

(Whew, talk about a run-on sentence.)

It actually was a fine little place, even though a public toilet in Fallujah would have been the Ritz Carlton compared to that rat-infested basement we occupied in Jamaica Plain.

But this little apartment is best known for its ping pong table. Purchased on a whim by the Hossschaib duo and painted with delicate care by Schaibleangelo in a grandiose Celtics pattern, the ping pong table stood in what was supposed to be a dining room. It housed many a grand ping pong battle. You can guess who lost most of the matches. That damn Hosseini spin still gives me nightmares.

Like a band in a Behind the Music feature, the glorious early rise led to days of drug abuse and sexual diseases. Actually, the table just got covered with mail we were too lazy to open. It was followed by a bitter custody battle straight out of Kramer vs. Kramer and is now rumored to reside in Gansettshire in Rhode Island, burned out on crack but still hoping to relive the glory days.
That was my first real taste of the ping pong bug. I thought it came and went. But then moved into a new office equipped with a game room. The game room has a ping pong table. Now we play on a daily basis.

You can guess who loses most of his matches. (Do I ever win at anything you might ask? Yes, English awards, Oscar pools and Royal Rumble 1994 tickets.)

One of my co-workers is crazy, Forrest-Gump good at ping pong. A few others just consistently beat me. I do have a usual playing partner, a guy named Neil who is very much like Grimey. (Another story.) Anyway, when we first started playing I beat him consistently with my strategic style. Others tend to describe me as the Jamie Moyer of ping pong.
Let’s just say my game is not known for its speed. Then something bad happened. This Neil guy got very good and now he has turned the tables. Many of our matches are instant classics, but I still end up on the losing end more often than not. He has a wicked backhand winner to go with his lefty style.
My big problem is returning fast serves. I always hit them long. Another problem is my inability to hit the ball hard and accurately. It’s not my spaghetti arms or pre-teen girlish strength. No, any time I try to hit a sharp winner, I hit the ceiling, the net or my opponent’s groin.
Lately, I’ve improved on that, but not enough to put myself in the win column consistently.
All this losing grates on me. I know it’s just a silly little game played with paddles and a small ball, but I want to win. I’m not insanely competitive, but I don’t like losing. I take it well on the outside, but on the inside I’m flailing my arms and screaming, “Not like this!”

During games with better opponents, I’ll hit several good returns and volleys only to have my moves halted. I’ll end up hitting the net or hitting it out of bounds sooner or later. This is when I get outwardly frustrated. I collapse like Eric Gange. If I were a reliever, I’d start balking guys and giving up grand slams. If I’m playing great but someone hits the bare edge of the table, I go into a big funk. I just can’t help it. I’m not cut out for such rigorous athletic competition.

I only hope I can improve to a point where I win every now and then against the big boys. And there are some big boys here. The company is even having a bracket-style ping pong tournament. I wasn’t good enough to make it, so I’m thinking of starting the CBSSports ping pong NIT. Maybe I can be the best of those who suck.

I will get better. I vow to get better, to work on my game, to train like Rocky or Rich Garces. I will become King Pong, if only to honor the Mona Lisa of ping pong tables that decorated our memorable Brookline confines. I’ll never forget you, buddy.

1 comment:

  1. Apologize for the lack of space between paragraphs. Can't fix it for some reason.