Up In Smoke
I’ve played tennis most of my life. It was love at first whack when I started hitting an old tennis ball with a yard sale racquet against the garage door. Through the years, I improved and progressed. I reached a point where I had delusional moments of grandeur; I pictured myself at Wimbledon and the French Open. Oh, the glory!
Those moments didn’t last too long, especially after an embarassing loss to a girl wearing jean cut-offs and dangly Snoopy earrings at the high school state tournament. That was tough to forget.
Next, a chunky college player, who made me do ALL the running. That stung a little.
A few years later, the topper, or so I thought; a rout by a woman twenty years older, who never seemed to miss a shot, nor sweat. Little did I know, the worst was yet to come.
In my 40’s, I happened to land on a great women’s tennis team that progressed through several qualifying tournaments to reach the Nationals. I hadn’t been this excited about really anything (aside from things like ice cream and a clean garage) in a long time. I trained hard: lessons, weight lifting, even jogging. I cut back on the wine (a little). The only problem was the coincidence with my 25th wedding anniversary. My husband cancelled all of our Napa Valley, romantic weekend, French Laundry reservations and rebooked us into a Holiday Inn, Tucson, Arizona. Just a tiny bit of pouting; manageable, considering this was a moment of a lifetime for me.
The tournament began with stifling conditions. Humidity, 100+degrees, lots of wind. I played my heart out, as did the team. We won one match and lost the next two. All the matches were closely contested. Our team was out of the running for a trophy, but we had one match left and we were going to play for pride, damn it!
My husband, Jeff, hadn’t watched any of the play, as he couldn’t be bothered to leave the pool. He decided to quit being a pouty baby and show up for my last match.
I introduced myself to my opponent, a fit, tiny woman who looked about 30 years old. Great…a scrambler and young; this didn’t look good for me. About 45 minutes later, I shook hands with her again. I was a 6-0, 6-1 loser. I said to myself, “It’s O.K., not too bad for your age. At least you made it to Nationals”. I gathered my things and walked off the court. Jeff greeted me with a hug and said, “Hey Babe, I’m really glad I left the pool for that. I thought you should know that the woman you played lit up a cigarette the minute she left the court”.
An ego went up in smoke.