It should be obvious to you by now that our days here are a sequence of debits and credits. Or to put it another way, God gives and He takes away. There is nothing we can do about it. It is with this in mind that I comment on my most recent activities in the area of tennis.
My tennis game has improved significantly, you will be pleased to know, since I last reported on it in this column last autumn. The feel for the game that I had in my extreme youth has returned. I no longer wear all-leather Stan Smiths, but my white Lacoste shirts look pleasing against tanned limbs and blonde hair. Tennis is an opportunity to achieve a superior level of fitness, but it also gives us a chance to indulge our need for social interaction, affection, and cocktails. I play weekly with enthusiasm.
The lucky chap with whom I regularly hit the balls is a fit, 6’5” Brazilian of German background, a quantitative analyst at a local asset management firm known for fixed-income business. Despite the advantages of height and fitness he has poor control over the ball, which usually results in wildly off-target shots that keep me scurrying from one side of the court to the other just to maintain the rally. It is a challenge, but I welcome it.
The hot European girls on the neighbouring court, in abbreviated white shorts, white visors, and pony tails, their smooth brown skin glowing through the haze, are a pleasant distraction. Likewise, the gold-vermillion hawks riding low overhead and the solitary raven hopping along the shaded grass under thorn trees. Spiny-scaled lizards scatter into the shrubs. I have seen ugly men, but I have never seen a creature that is not perfect and beautiful.
Has your partner ever been unfaithful to you? Mine has—but when I say partner I mean tennis partner. A few weeks ago I noticed a slight improvement in my friend’s game. When I remarked on it, he sheepishly admitted to having bought a home-made tennis ball machine with which he practices alone at odd hours on the court. The machine itself consists of little more than a pair of large plastic industrial waste buckets, plastic plumbing pipes, a vacuum cleaner engine, and various high-end motorcycle parts. Like a man who discovers his wife has resorted to battery-propelled means for erotic satisfaction, I admit to feeling some irritation.
As you know, I am against robots. I am not a fan of gadgets and contraptions in general. They dehumanise us. They make life without other people possible, desirable and preferable even. They are anti-social. Machines are against life. The one gadget for which I would be willing to make an exception is a cocktail cart, a mobile imbibing device for away-matches, which might be delightfully appropriate in this situation. Do they even make such a thing?
My partner and I play weekly matches of two to three hours in duration, a habit that has resulted in my sustaining acute injuries, including tennis elbow, tennis knee, and damage to my Achilles tendon. Still, we press on. There is no use in surrendering. I live according to the philosophy that if a daily glass of wine is supposed to be good for one’s health, then five or six glasses are even better. Why stop at just one? The key, as in most endeavours, is perseverance. Never give up, even if it means you need to use a cane and codeine to get out of bed in the morning. Your dedication will be rewarded.
Should you find yourself in Laguna Beach, do let me know. A lovely game of tennis, sans ball machine, is just the thing to break the ice and help us forget. Let us set up the cocktail cart, exchange a few toasts, and begin. Reflect upon the moment and enjoy the ritual for what it is. We run about in the light and the heat, a breeze rushing through the coastal palms, and, above us, the hunting-birds floating in the Sun-Wind.