Monday, November 16, 2009

Suburbs of Our Discontent

This weekend was all about tennis balls—the ones I hit (or didn’t) during my Saturday match, which I lost completely: 6-2, 6-2. It’s my second year on this Working Ladies Tennis Team, a night league with weekend matches. We come to practice in a delirious frenzy, excited to take out office aggression on the tennis balls. It’s like boot camp, especially when our coach yells at us. He commented on my lazy footwork the other day: “What are you doing, waiting in line for a hot dog?!!!”

I like to think that Shakespeare was a big tennis fan. He probably never played or watched tennis, but he does mention tennis in at least six of his plays.

In Henry V, as Henry is considering whether or not to invade France, his rival, the French Dauphin (and heir apparent to the French throne) mocks Henry by sending him a bunch of tennis balls. The joke is that Henry does not have the "balls" to invade France. Big mistake.

Henry gets really mad and says that the tennis balls will become very manly “cannonballs” to fire at their heads.

But if you want to see a real example of the formalized aggression that is tennis, I urge you to be a spectator at a Ladies’ tennis match. Tennis is a vicious, personal, down and dirty mental game that is an assault on the ego. When our Ladies play against Ladies from other teams, it’s sort of like WWF for the PTA set. Women morph into mini-skirted bludgeoners. Some of them scream “NO!” whenever your ball is out, even if it is obviously out by five feet and you need no such verbal confirmation.

So many family members yell “NO!” at me regularly, it feels ridiculous to invite more of this from strangers, but I do.

My drive to win comes from the horrible thought that I will not be able to run like this forever, and also from the adrenalin rush that is the fear of failing (or feeling like I am failing) at yet one more thing.

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