Sunday, April 29, 2012
We hosted a home match today. (I made pasta salad with farfalle, pesto, green onions, tomatoes, and feta.) The rules state that the home team opens a new can of tennis balls with which the match is played. If the home team loses the match, we take those old balls and go home. If the home team pair wins, the visiting team gives us a can of new, unopened balls to replace the ones we played with. We then give them the game balls to take away as a consolation prize. It seems complicated and the first season I played, it was confusing, but it boils down to this: one way or another, the loser is out a can of balls.
Today I played with S, a girl I don't know well but I really like. She is Venezuelan and we have a slight language barrier, but she is very sweet and we have always won together. Today we won again. Now, to set the scene: It was 88 degrees, no shade anywhere. I was wearing heavy-duty sunscreen from my hairline down to my ankles. I'd been hydrating since breakfast and my urine was as clear as a pure mountain stream. I was ready to play. Also a part of the scene: I am a nice person. Okay.
We beat them 6-0, 6-0. They barely won any points in those games. I was thinking, they must be really new, 'cause S and I play fine but we are not, like, killer tennis monsters. I was all Nice Becky during our two quick sets, being cheerful because I AM cheerful, making pleasant chat between games, calling out "good shot" when they hit a good shot, etc. One girl seemed happy enough to be playing but the other one was like a wet rag. I don't know. When we won our match point, I went right to the end of the net to shake hands and all that, and S and I said the standard things, "Great match, thanks for playing, you played some great points, etc." These girls didn't really want to be friends, it seemed, so we all started packing up our stuff.
At this point there is usually the business of gathering up the game balls and putting them in their can. I would say, "Here you go" and give them the old balls and they would hand over a new can. We would thank them, sisterhood would flourish. But that's not what happened. I held out the can of old balls and one girl said, "You keep them," and then they both bee lined for the gate.
When they were gone, S said, "See, I thought they were supposed to give us balls, right?" I said, "Yes, they are." And I knew that they knew it, because in the little chat that we were able to squeeze from them, we established that the wet-rag girl has been playing for two years. They were avoiding the ball handover. Which made me want to make a thing out of it. I said to S, "Do you want to me to mention it?" And she said, "Yes, you do it, you can make it sound better than me."
So I don't know what got into me, and this is not how manners operate, as I have understood them all my life, in years of being drilled in ladylike modes of not seeming to put oneself first and never drawing attention to the lapses of others, etc. But I went and ASKED FOR THE NEW BALLS.
S and I followed those girls to the picnic area and as we got there, I called out, so breezily (BREEZY!), "Lisa, do you have a can of balls?" And that girl did not speak to me, she just rooted in her bag and pulled out a can and handed it to me with a little pronation of her wrist that I can only describe as pure bitch. I am sorry but you would have thought the same if you'd been there. When I am faced with that kind of attitude, I become like the freaking Homecoming Queen. Amy, you know what I'm talking about. I trilled my thanks to her and passed them to S. Then I knelt down to the girl's little daughters who were standing there by the picnic table and said, "Do you guys want some watermelon? And did you see these cookies?" I was the soul of warm, inclusive festivity. Their mother said, "They saw them."
So okay, I KNOW that I should have just let the whole ball thing go, and I have on other occasions. New players sometimes don't have the whole ball trading token ritual thing figured out and so what. A can of balls costs three dollars. Not a huge prize. But rules are rules, and the main thing is I sensed that those girls just DIDN'T WANT TO HAND OVER THE BALLS.
HAND OVER THE BALLS!
(At this point I am like balls balls balls, how many times can I say balls?!?)
So Reader, I know I did not exhibit top drawer behavior. I felt equal parts grubby and vindicated after the whole scene. And as we sat on the bleachers, eating our chicken salad croissants and watching the matches that were still going on, our captain came over and said she'd just caught the tail end of a convo at the picnic table in which one of my opponents was saying, indignantly, "Well it's a shame because it's supposed to be about having fun." And I wanted to turn around and yell, "I'M HAVING FUN." But she was probably talking about something else.
I came home and told Matt about it and several minutes later, I said, "But was I wrong to ask for the balls? I wanted S to have them back!" And he was like, "Rules are rules. Are we still talking about this? What?"
I know that you would like it if I would take my tennis balls and jog slowly away toward the horizon right now so you can stop hearing about this world. The good news is, today was our last regular season match. The bad news for you is, we made the playoffs!
Oh yeah baby, coveted bag tag here I come!