Remember when I said I would walk on a pickleball court when I was in hospice? Well, apparently I’m dying.
Amazon just delivered two pickleball “paddles” and a bag of fucked up whiffle balls.
No, I don’t have a diagnosis or a secret condition. I have a marriage.
“I would like to learn how to play pickleball,” Sugar Mama said. We have been looking for a “good activity” we could do together for almost a decade.
About 30 years ago we tried to play volleyball together, but I was a mess. Later, we tried tennis together. We would “destroy” our couple friends , so nobody invited us back. Then, we kept getting our asses kicked in mixed doubles tournaments by the “real tennis” players. Not much fun on either end of the bagel (6-0) or breadstick (6-1).
Ever since shattering her shoulder in 2013, overhead activities and “cycling” are out.
I mentioned Sugar Mama’s wish, and the two Bob’s were more than happy to lead us down the yellow-brick road to pickleball hell. I’m pretty sure the ancient peoples who populate pickleball put the “yellow” in brick road. There’s a lot of squatting and bending and bladder incontinence…
“I’ve burned out on tennis,” expert Bob said. In 3 minutes, “expert Bob” can fill your head with a metric shit ton of useless information about gold mining, teaching, human resource rules, sexual harassment, woodworking, metal shop techniques, or making office trinkets out of ammunition. A spent 50 caliber shell makes a great pencil sharpener (or some shit like that — I don’t really pay attention).
Happy Bob was more than happy to teach expert Bob and then us. Happy Bob just can’t stop laughing like he’s retired from a lifetime of being an asshole. He was a lawyer. He has spent his retirement soliciting innocent tennis players off a real court and onto the decadent tiny lines of outdoor ping-pong for the elderly (pickleball).
Only a lawyer would define pickleball as “exercise.” There’s no running and little walking. There’s a lot of standing at the “kitchen” line and swinging without moving your feet. If you move your feet (like you are supposed to on a volley) you step into the “kitchen” and give the point away to the two people who can stand still on the other side of the court.
No one knows why the first 7 feet of the court is called “the kitchen,” but I highly suspect it is connected to the word salad issues of both dementia and schizophrenia. (The combination is obviously the target market for new pickleball players.)
Just as the mercury pushed over 100, the two Bob’s, Sugar Mama and I stepped onto the relatively new pickleball courts at Gilbert Regional Park. It was so hot, the crowds were down and for a good 40 minutes we had our own court, no waiting, no socializing. Good.
But that meant lots of hitting, lots of instruction from the two Bobs.
- “Stand back on the serve”
- “Step up on the return”
- “Don’t lob”
- “Stay low on the serve.”
- “Step up to the net, but stay the hell out of the kitchen.”
- “We both serve and then you get to serve.” (What the actual fuck?)
“Slow down,” I kept telling them between points. “I need a few more seconds to figure out what the hell is going on.”
My cognition got worse, the longer we played. I can’t think when I’m frustrated. I was frustrated because I suck at this game. They say it’s like tennis, but that’s bullshit. It has nets, lines, something to swing and a ball. But nothing else.
I can’t serve my way out of trouble. I can’t just try to hit the other guy in the chest. I can’t just tap the ball and let the strings carry it over the net. I can’t spin the ball so much that it bounces way up or sideways or not at all.
That fucking whiffle ball doesn’t bounce right, it doesn’t spin right and it makes that god-awful whacking sound. Great shots in tennis are easy put aways for the Bobs in pickleball. Sucky, little half-ass dink shots win points. You can swing hard and “drive” the ball, but it doesn’t go anywhere and it doesn’t scare anybody. Fuck.
The sun setting and the temperature dropping below body heat brought out the “crowd.” Suddenly, we were playing with strangers.
“Pickleball is more social than tennis,” happy Bob said. Meaning fucking pickleball is so popular you have to share the court between games. Then wait for someone else to finish and get their court.
It’s fucking musical chairs with paddles. Grab a net before the music stops. It’s socialism through scarcity.
If they did this in golf, you would have to get off the course every 3 holes and let everybody else play 3 holes before you could go to the 4th tee.
“Can’t we just rent a court like they do for tennis?”
Nope. Pickleball is the town Parks and Rec Department’s big government plan to create a communist ideal. Share the limited courts in 20-minute sections.
It’s a kibbutz with kibitzing.
There’s no privilege for the rich or famous or room for excellence on the pickleball court. But that irony is lost on the millions of AARP-eligible Republicans who have left their private tennis clubs, so they could go to the town park and pick up the paddle. Might as well play with a hammer and sickle.
Now I’m starting to understand why they call this “pickleball” — hammerball is too manly, and sickleball is too hard to say. Russian propagandists at their best.
As we finished the first round, the two Bobs asked Sugar Mama. “So, you going to play again?” She didn’t directly answer.
Two days later, Amazon delivered paddles and whiffle balls to the place where people know I live. Shit.
I can only hope nobody saw the packages, and the drivers treat it like they just dropped off a sex doll or two cases of extra-long dildos. Either of those would be easier to explain to the tennis-playing pendejos than why a grown-ass man with no small children got a package with paddles and whiffle balls.