Tuesday, May 13, 2014

I Learned a Lesson Last Night

     Last night I played Ping Pong at my table tennis club, as I usually do on Monday nights. I started off by myself at a corner table, practicing my serves. Then Mike came over and asked me to play. I'd never played with Mike before, and as we started to hit I could see he was pretty good. Still, I thought I could keep up with him.

     He suggested we play a match. A table tennis match is best of 5 games. A game goes to 11 points, but you have to win by two points. Then whoever wins 3 games wins the match. Once we started playing for real, Mike turned up the heat, and he ran me around the table pretty mercilessly. He soon had me panting and sweating, and he beat me 3 games to 0.

     A few minutes later I saw Chris. I've played him many times before. He's a lot younger than I am, but he's about my level. He's rated slightly higher in our club ranking, but we generally go back and forth on our matches.

     It wasn't league night, so just before we began our match, I paused. "This is not for ranking," I clarified. "It's just for fun, right?"

     He leveled me a mock hard stare. "It'll be fun for me," he smiled.

     "Well," I laughed. "I don't mind providing you with some fun."

     He won the first game easily. But then he got cocky and started making mistakes. I won the second game. The third game went to 10-10. He won a point to take the advantage. I won the next point to get to deuce. We went back and forth a couple of times; but finally it was my ad, and I won the next point and took the game. It was a hard-fought, competitive match all the way, but Chris was getting frustrated and during the next game he started making even more mistakes. I won the fourth game when he faulted on his serve, and I took the match 3-1.

     After that I played with Charles. I'm better than Charles, and we both know it, but like me, he's an older fellow and we like to play together. I beat him easily at 3-0.

     Next up, I met Dirk, who used to be a real good player, but he hasn't played much lately, so he's unpredictable. Dirk won the first game, then I came back and won the second and third games. But then Dirk came on strong -- and by this time I was getting tired -- and he easily took games four and five. He bested me 3-2.

     After that another new fellow, a young guy named Adam, asked me to play. I was pretty exhausted by this point, and so I agreed we could hit for a little while, but I told him I didn't want to play a match; I had to go home soon.

     Adam turned out to be good, and he was smashing shots at me, putting me on the defensive very quickly. After a few minutes I was breathless. I held up my hand. "So, thanks, but I really have to go," I said. He was nice about it; we shook hands, and I walked off.

     As I left I saw Robert. He's another young fellow who likes to play with me -- because I give him a good match, but he usually wins. I said hello to Robert, but when he asked if I wanted to play, I begged off. "I gotta go," I said. I was really sagging by this point. "I'm tired," I told him. He looked as if he didn't believe me. So I added, "I'm old! I gotta get home. It's past my bedtime!"

     There was another fellow sitting on the bench next to Robert. A black guy, probably in his 50s. I've seen him around the club, and I know he's a good player -- too good for me to have ever played with him. He looked up at me. "Hey," he said with conviction in his voice. "Never say you're old!"

     I back looked at him. "Well, I'm tired. What other excuse do I have?" I was joking around. Didn't he get that?

     "Just never say you're old," he repeated. "I don't care how old you are. If you're 40, and you say you're old, suddenly you're 42. It makes you older just to say you're old."

     So I bantered with the guy for a minute, and I realized that he knew I was joking. But he wasn't joking. He meant what he said. I then stumbled off to the locker room to get my stuff and go home.

     I'd had a good workout. I'd played pretty well. I was tired. And I learned:  Never say you're old!


kIRK said...

That's his opinion. You're only as old as you THINK you are, not what you say.

I lied about my age upward to get the 5% discount at Publix a couple of years before I was 60. Felt so guilty. :0

DJan said...

It sounds like a lot of table tennis to me. I got tired just reading about it. And age is always relative, isn't it? "Old" is what I feel almost every night as I fall into bed. :-)

Anonymous said...

I got tired too. This must be because I am so young!

Dick Klade said...

When you made it through that kind of workout, you proved you're not "old."

b+ (Retire In Style Blog) said...

Oh my gosh...this so very true. I had to learn this lesson the hard way. I don't even joke about it anymore.

I wrote about the comment you made on my blog this morning. Thank you for the wonderful "prompt". I thought you might be interested.

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Anonymous said...

I tried to leave a comment twice yesterday but the word verification stymied me. Let's try this again: You get A+ for effort, Tom, and it is great you won a few games, too.

Barb said...

Ha!! I waver from being a senior citizen to being middle aged (depending on the benefits), lol.

Tom Sightings said...

Sorry gigihawaii (and everybody else), but I had to reactivate word verification. I know it's a a pain, but I just got too much spam without it.

#1Nana said...

I don't mind being old. I like the perks that come with it...retirement for one! I say I'm old and I don't care who hears it. I like being a senior, but I'm not that pleased with the aches and pains that naturally occur to aging humans.

Olga Hebert said...

I stopped saying "I'm old" because while I meant it in a jokey/ironic kind of way, the reaction was usually, "Yes, we can see that." That was a lot of table tennis. I haven't played for years.

Stephen Hayes said...

The problem with calling yourself old is that eventually you believe it and lean on it.