I WILL PICKLE BALL NO MORE

Have you had The Conversation with yourself yet? 

If you’re over 70, you know exactly which conversation I mean.

“To Pickle Ball or not to Pickle Ball?”

My first inclination to Pickle Ball came when the Town of Plymouth’s Recreation Department sent me an innocent looking flier listing all the summer activities to which the unsuspecting elderly population of Plymouth were invited to participate. 

Lest there be any doubt, Pickle Ball was boldly listed in the flier. Without warning or caution, I must add.

Having a publisher whose Pickle Ball prowess had taken her to the national championship playoffs, I felt as though I had an obligation to uphold the honor of Eifrig Publishing authors everywhere. 

And so I told myself, “I WILL PICKLE BALL!”

The other Pickle Ball elders were already arriving by the time I arrived at Stephens Field. I scouted their ranks to assuage any concerns that I was being foolish to offer up my questionably fit—and unquestionably old—body to the Pickle Ball gods for disposition as they saw fit. No worries though; the others appeared to be my age of 75 or older. 

Or so it seemed.

My brother Bob warned me against Pickle Ball. I will admit that here and now, so I cannot plead ignorance. Bob had his first and last Pickle Ball experience on a pebbly Pickle Ball court surface that caught at the tread of his sneakers and caused him to fall and bang up his knee. 

From then on, Bob swore profanities whenever the name Pickle Ball arose in a conversation. Or, as Bob would put it, “That f#%king, sonuvabitch Pickle Ball.”

I let my eyes run across the asphalt surface of the three tennis courts with Pickle Ball court lines overlaid, and felt secure this was no more dangerous than all the basketball games I had played as a child in Bronx playgrounds. 

Never slipped or tripped once. As far as I could recall.

Which brings up the question of how reliable was my memory anyway? 

No matter, I blinked my eyes and blithely walked onto the non-pebbly asphalt playing surface. Any hesitation on my part was set aside. 

This morning, I WOULD PICKLE BALL!

As far as I recall, my group of four warmed up for ten minutes or so before I abruptly stretched to my right to return the Pickle Ball ball, which has even less bounce than a whiffle ball. That paucity of bounce causes one to jump abruptly, at the risk of several ligaments, tendons and muscle groups. Having recently swung at balls that were no longer airbound by the time my racket SWING came around, I was focused on getting to the ball more quickly than before.

The Pickle Ball ball. If you can find a deader ball in creation,
you’ll surprise the heck out of me.

Funny how the mind works. I have no memory of whether my swing arrived in time to return that inert sphere or whether the crying pain from my right leg’s hamstring and left leg’s Achilles tendon felled me to the ground even faster than the lead-weighted Pickle Ball ball dropped.

Unfortunately, there was no one present at the Pickle Ball courts to record official times. I ‘m certain I set a new world record for the shortest time on a Pickle Ball court. Less than 10 minutes!• 

And without playing in a single game!

For the rest of the day, and through the night, I was plagued by two separate phenomena: first was the searing pain racing up both legs; second was the answer I would give if ever again I heard The Conversation in my head.

“I WILL PICKLE BALL NO MORE!” 

And just to make sure, I wrote my children asking them, if in my dotage I ever declared an intention to play Pickle Ball, to stop me in my tracks, tie me up, and send me to a retirement village where there were no courts. “Basketball, tennis, squash, handball, racquetball, or Pickle Ball,” I listed, just to make sure there were no exceptions. 

As a final request, and my last word on the matter, I asked for my cemetery headstone to offer this simple declaration…

“I WILL PICKLE BALL NO MORE!” 

• My Brother Bob insists he beat my record by three or four minutes at least, but admits he has no way to prove his record-setting score, or to disprove mine. 

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