Friday, July 9, 2010

Wimbledon, It Wasn't

How fast a month goes by when one is fixated on the little life that's fast forming in front of his eyes. Max is turning into a bundle of unbridled energy, shaking and grabbing and bouncing and jumping in whatever ways a 6-month-old can. Each day becomes an increasingly relentless and fast-paced race from one parenting task to the next--diaper changes, clothes changes, bottle prep, bottle cleaning, playing on the floor, carrying him around, taking him for walks, diaper changes, squeezing in a few minutes of work or house stuff while he naps, making him little baby meals, reading him stories, more diaper changes, bathing him, putting him to sleep...and then, at last, collapsing in a useless heap next to my equally useless collapsed heap of a wife. No one said parenting was easy.

But enough about Max--I'll come back to him plenty. Lately, I've promised myself that I would stop limiting this blog to only Max-related stuff, as easy as that is. It's my blog, dammit, and it should be about me, right? This presumes that anyone reading this actually is interested in me--a huge presumption, admittedly, but I'll go with it.

This week's noteworthy tale came Wednesday when I played tennis for the first time a friend I'll call "Rob." Oh, wait, that's his real name, so no need for quotes, I guess. That is, unless you know Rob, in which case the quotes might in fact be a perfect commentary on his personality. Anyhoo, back to the tennis.

So Rob shows up here about noon Wednesday, and we head over to nearby Albany Terrace Park, a hidden neighborhood jewel with two slightly off-kilter tennis courts. We quickly claim a court, and after a brief warm-up, we begin the "match." (I use quotes again because it was more like a sad display, but humor us.) I quickly fall behind, and after losing the seventh game to fall behind 5-2, Rob comes to mid-court and declares a 6-1 victory. I point out his error and take my position to serve confident that he just jinxed his karma. Sure enough, I take the next three games to tie things up, and then take the tiebreaker to win the set, 7-6.

Rob is dejected. As we start the second set, the court next to us is taken over by two children and their nanny, a rather, uh, buxom eastern European girl who's wearing a very tight t-shirt, a very short skirt, and a tennis game in desperate need of help. Every shot that comes her way is hit straight into the ground, and after each one she laughs nervous little laughs.

Somehow, Rob, who's the biggest hound I know, doesn't notice her for the first game, but I know the canine-like reaction is coming. It comes when we switch sides for the second game and he's now on the same side of the net as she is. The first time he heads over toward her fence to pick up a ball--bingo!--the alarm comes on. The only way he'd have been more obvious was if his tongue had unrolled onto a giant erection. He begins casting glances toward our tennis neighbor every point, hoping to catch her looking at him. I can see the wheels turning--if we were any place else, he'd be trying to talk her into coming home.

Inexplicably, the distraction seems to energize him, and he goes up in the set 5-3 before, once again, I come back and force a tiebreaker. Alas, he recovers in time to prevail 7-6, forcing a third set.

It's important to note here that I hadn't played a third set of tennis in at least 20 years. In any case, as the set begins, the nanny and kids depart, and as they walk away, I hear Rob mumble "good riddance," which seems odd given that he seemed to play better in her presence.

The third set makes it clear this match has become a war of attrition. He wins the first game, then I win the next two, then he wins the two after that, and I take two more to make it 4-3, and it's my serve. Naturally, it's at this point that, for the first time in my life, I feel a twinge in my shoulder during a tennis serve, and it's clear that I'm done for the day. Rob discourages me from playing, declaring, "It's not worth it...we're just here to have fun." I agree and we call the match. Then, as we sit down, he declares himself the winner. What, I ask? He says that since I quit from injury, that's a forfeit.

This, of course, only fuels my desire to destroy him the next time we play, hopefully soon. I go home and pay the physical price for the next 24 hours, experiencing soreness in places I didn't even know existed.

The story reminds me that there's a revenge theme in the air. Just the day before, as I was innocently showering, Sarah came in to use the bathroom sink and dumped not one, but two glasses of cold water over me, after which I swore I'd get even while we're on vacation next week. I'm not sure what form that revenge will take, or whether I'll really even need it. After all, I gave her a son who, like most sons, is likely to one day treat her like an irritant that must be endured out of obligation. That will be revenge enough. Until then, I'll just let her enjoy our daily baby rituals, anticipating the day when her comeuppance arrives.

In the meantime, having heard the tale of my tennis match with Rob, Sarah says if we ever get a nanny, she's going to have to be fat and ugly.

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