Ping Pong AKA Table Tennis
Table tennis is to ping pong
as coq-au-vin is to fried chicken.
I grew up with ping pong
and three older brothers,
the youngest of whom
was left handed, like me.
He taught me how
to spin the ball on a serve.
From 1945 to 2005
my curve ball stumped
the hardiest slam players.
I averaged three bucks a night
playing in beer bars
in the early nineteen sixties
before pool eclipsed ping pong.
I had a table in my back yard
in Huntington Beach. Wore it out
the rest of last century, and moved north.
In 2000, a friend gave us a new table.
It replaced our car in the garage.
We began a series of doubles games,
fell into futons and old chairs.
laughed our heads off
year after year.
Reaching low for a hot curve return one day,
I backed into the half-open garage door and
hit my head hard—two day concussion.
Another time I twisted my left wrist
so hard it had to be bandaged.
The grocery store clerk asked what happened
“Sports injury,” I replied.
She didn’t ask which sport.
In 2002 John took me to Fiji
Our hotel held a table tennis tournament
I won a bottle of champagne
Later, the manager asked If I’d play
two young Fijians men who wanted to challenge me.
I beat both of them.
The manager told me they were mortified
to be beaten by a lady.
I said, “Tell them it was an old lady.”
I can be cruel, too, but not often.
When each of my grandsons
managed to beat me in a game,
they cheered to the world,
“I finally beat Gramma.”
Now I can no longer play
and I’m only eighty-three.
Stenosis in my spine
causes too much pain.
If I play, I can’t walk.
I tried to play tonight.
It felt so great, for five minutes,
and, Dammit, I COULDA WON!