17 May 2013

Beat Down in the Rec Plex

AS a few dark clouds rolled in looking like it might downpour at the drop of a hat, I locked my car and entered the Rec Plex with my bag of nifty gray sweat shorts from the '84 World Cup, and my new metallic brown, white soled Sketchers.  I was ready to play an earnest game of racquetball.

My opponent was this man:
whom I'll just call "John".

That smug look is what happens to his face when he is about to take advantage of his opponent's age and tiredness, after all his opponent, me, has three kids where he has none.  The game we were about to play has always been played as a casual game between friends not enemy combatants.  All that was about to change, as I would soon find out. 

As I've said, I came prepared in my gray shorts and red golf shirt.  I performed my customary warm-ups and stretches:

and within 30 minutes I was ready to roll, which is usually how I play racquetball.  I roll around on the cold floor swiping at the miniature blue ball in complete and utter desperation.  I may as well be playing golf.

There was no doubt that John's youth and exuberance not to mention his rugged manly good looks gave him an advantage that I could only hope my superior racket skills could overcome. The first game to 21 was claimed by the slimmest of margins by me. Triumphant I paraded the court like a male peacock, feathers spread, proudly prancing and hammering home my victory (VICTOIRE!) but with refined restraint. "Eat that, loser!" I mildly teased my foe.

John and I have played this game before and he was typically very good at accepting his role as the dominated player.  But something was amiss today.  A sinister plot lay in John's unfettered gaze.  The court seemed to be sucking up my feet.  As the first game ended, I felt like we were playing on a fine white sandy beach, the reflecting sun blinding me.  Of course he'd passed out the goggles.  

The second game on this day was a brutally different and utterly grotesque form of racquetball that I was unaccustomed to experiencing.  From the onset, a new and invigorated John drew first blood.

He played like a ballet dancer who was playing racquetball.  It was then that I began to doubt my older legs could carry me past the youthful swine who was now limberly bouncing and pirouetting across the court.

And he didn't stop.  He was relentless.  Every ball I hit, he returned.  Every trick I tried, he solved and sprung his own trick.  As my demoralized stamina waned, he took advantage of this old man.  He momentarily feigned fatigue.  "Are you done?" he mockingly pleaded with me.  "Serve the ball," I muttered with all of the strength I had left.  Unfortunately that left nothing for me to hit the ball with and the game point was devastatingly lost.

 Then this happened:

And after that this:


I had been bamboozled and battered.  I was, needless to say, a wrecked man.

And in the end John was crowned the King of Norway.

He'd brutalized an older man and for the first time in what may very well be a zillion games, he'd beaten me, brutally, savagely.  The repercussions of this crushing defeat, this flagrant mistreatment, would be felt for a long, long time.  Or at least until I took a nice warm bath.

This dastardly defeat meant only one horrible and dreadful thing: I had to buy "him" a beer.  Not Him, but him as in "John".

Sure this may seem like a mundane or, heaven forbid, trivial event, but not for me and I certainly hope not for "John". I won't forget this day for as long as I am awake.  The day a younger man nearly bludgeoned me to death within the confines of the Rec Plex.

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