Friday, January 6, 2012

Good and Bad Behavior on The Tennis Team

A fan letter Laura wrote. Roger always behaves beautifully.
So Matt and I have joined a mixed doubles team in our neighborhood. It just started up this fall, and it's made up of several of my buddies from the ladies' team and their husbands. First match is Sunday. The captain is my gravelly-voiced, rough around the edges, bunco-playing, into everything acquaintance. Friend? For me, familiarity always breeds fondness, so I would say we are friends by now. I've gotten used to her basically abrasive approach to the world.

Most of my girl pals joined the team in hopes of actually being partnered with their husbands. I thought that was the normal way to do things in mixed doubles, especially a C-level team, but apparently it's not, and it's up to the captain to pair men and women based on ability, not on who goes home together. Okay, I had an inkling of that, but I figured Matt and I would get to play together in a match sometimes. But my good buddy T--the one who uses the face cream made of foreskins--has chafed against this protocol, and when the line-up for Sunday was released, which had her and her husband playing in different lines with other people, she was upset.

She texted me that night after practice:
I hate the line-up.  I wanted to play with my husband so we could do something together. This freakin' swingers' tennis sux.
I laughed at "swingers' tennis" (coming to a suburb near you!) but I figured she just needed to vent. Well.

Then yesterday morning, she copied me on this email that she sent to the captain:
[Hubs] and I wanted to play mixed double in order to do something together and this is not headed in that direction. The first few practices were great - rotating around- but as of the last couple of practices, we don't get to play together at all; I could understand you breaking us up if we didn't play well together, but we do; therefore the line-up doesn't make sense to us either. But I guess it doesn't have to because you are the captain, which was apparent in your attitude last night.  If we were regular members of the team, we would suck it up and finish the season, but we are only alternates so we will play this Sunday and then we are done. If you decide you don't want us this weekend (which is probably now the case), just let me know.
Well, when I read that, I said, "Whoa." I don't think I'm overreacting in saying that, down here, in our cultural register, this is a relationship-severing email, especially for people who are just casual friends. T is a sweet girl, and I sympathized with her position and the impulse that led her to write that, but I would not have written that, and would have tried some honey instead.

All I said in response was, "Well, you definitely got your point across! Let me know what she says." Then Pretty Neighbor and I were all, "OMG, the captain is going to spray weed killer on her lawn." We anticipated lots of huffiness and hurt feelings all around. I was especially thinking that this would lead to an awkward Spring ladies season, as neither of those two are about to quit that team.

But gravelly-voiced friend surprised me. T forwarded her reply and it was:
Sorry for the misunderstanding about being able to play together all the time in the ALTA team. You and he will be able to play together some of the time. This week we need him to play line two and he could have been line one this week based on everyone’s availability. 
When [husband] and I want to play together we play either T2 or Ultimate. (We get too much time together sometimes ;-) 
We want you to play. You come to the practices all the time and that’s why you are in the line-up. We understand if you don’t want to continue playing, though. ;-( Let me know.

Tennis Captain has obviously imbibed the lesson that A Soft Answer Turneth Away Wrath. I have not been giving her enough credit. I was impressed that she didn't rise to the bitchy bait. And T forwarded me her reply and said something like, "Well! Okay then!"

And for me this is just a continuing exploration of how, as I get older, if I basically like a person and think she's decent, I'm willing to put up with some of her shit and it's no big deal. Especially a casual friend who doesn't live under my roof. Both these girls have had instances of Imperfect Conduct, and so have I. Yet I still enjoy moving in their circles. So whatever, here's to bitching out sometimes.

The email I sent to Pretty Neighbor about this was titled OMG TENNIS DRAMAZ!!!!1

We are enjoying ourselves here in the burbs.

PS: Book club is next week. Yes!


Aimee said...

I always end these posts wishing I had the guts to write about my life the way you do. Of course, my life isn't nearly so interesting (seriously, way less Rowing Dramaz! than tennis), but still...

Also, I'm thinking a lot about what you said about putting up with people's stuff. I'm not so good with that, and I really oughta try to be, I think. I'm going to think on it some more.

Anonymous said...

That's good because too many women are sissies who have to have all of the same things shining back to them all the time in some kind of echo chamber of sororal horror and whatever to all that.

What is interesting to me, though, is why T didn't sidestep the whole Ladies' Wild Kingdom dramz and have her husband write the email? You know what I'm saying. xo

Becky said...

Whoa, the Nuclear Option!

gretchen said...

I just love all this tennis intrigue. I think there is DEFINITELY a book in this. Just saying.

Anonymous said...

I dunno, Becky, is that how it would be received there? Like a going outside of the (girls') group? Because I know if my husband sent that email, it would be v dry & Joe Friday and much less-suspenseful with prob the same outcome.

I swear I've spent 2 hours here thinking I used the word "pantywaist." Missed opportunities!

Elizabeth said...

I don't know. I think the email was a good one and not bitchy. But then again, I'm a rather "forceful" person myself.

I do love to hear about tennis drama though --

Becky said...

Elizabeth, there's really only one sentence that takes it to Bitchy Town, I think.

Elle, not sure, maybe? Not if this were a more established group, but none of us really knows each other's husbands. I think that exact email from a man would have seemed aggressive. It's possible I am a shrinking lily princess though, LOL.

Lisa Lilienthal said...

If this was us, my husband would be rolling his eyes so far back in his head that he'd have to have them surgically lowered. Only us womenfolk could get so twisted about something that is supposed to be all in fun! Love the DRAMAZ!

Amy said...

Becky, only you could segue naturally from the entertainment of TENNIS DRAMAZ to the life lesson of charity+love (agape!) in the suburbs & beyond. Loveya! xoxo

ps, I too was highly impressed with the Captain's swing on the bitch pitch T let loose. Way to defuse it.

Becky said...

Where has the phrase "bitch pitch" been all my life?!?

Lisa, Matt thought it was pretty funny too. He enjoys the passing scene like I do.

delaine said...

Is your book club selection for this month Serena? It'll be interesting to see what the ladies think of it.

Amy said...

"Bitch pitch" is just the phrase I needed to add to my lexicon. God bless you, Amy, and the work you do.

I agree, that if she'd left out that one sentence it would've been fine--a little snippy--but fine. Your coach did a good job defusing the situation! Cause you know if she'd responded in kind, the rest of the team woulda heard about it!

I can't wait to hear more about this!

Kate said...

awesome!!! I generally bitch it out only with only my sister and husband. Can't wait to hear about book club! Let the bitching keep on rollin'

Beth said...

I've said it before: you definitely have a book in you!

I wish I had more hilarious drama in my social circle, too. And I also wish I were better at accepting the annoying parts of people, but I fear I'm not good at that, either.