Pickle Me This

Bill and I walked in the house at 8:45 the other morning after a couple of hours playing Pickleball.  It’s only the middle of August, so we’re in the heart of monsoon season.  The temperature had already reached 98, the humidity was in the high 40’s and we were completely sweat soaked.  Mom greeted us with a wide-eyed stare as we trudged through the living room.

“Were you at the pool?” she asked, noting our saturated tee shirts.

“No, we were playing Pickleball,” I replied as I kept walking, hoping to beat Bill to the shower.

“Tell me again what Pickleball is,” she said, pulling me up short in the foyer.  I heard Bill chuckle as he quickly passed me and made a beeline for the bathroom.

I turned and begrudgingly returned to the living room.  “It’s sort of like tennis,” I explained for the 10th or 12th time, “but the court is smaller and you use a paddle instead of a racket, and a whiffle ball.”

“Like a ping pong ball?”

“No.  The ball is about the same size as a tennis ball but it’s plastic and has holes in it.”

“But you use paddles.”


“So you have to hit the ball with two hands?” she asked as I turned to go.

“No, just one hand,” I said, pausing on my way out of the room.  “Why would you think it took two hands?”

“Well a paddle is pretty big and heavy.  It seems like a stupid thing to use to hit a waffle ball with.”

“Whiffle, not waffle.  And besides, what would you use it for?”

“To get around a lake.”

“Mom, it isn’t that kind of paddle.  It isn’t like an oar.  It’s like a ping pong paddle on steroids,” I replied.

“Aren’t those bad for you?”

“Steroids?  Sometimes I guess, but not for paddles,” I said over my shoulder as I walked away.

“Well you be careful when you’re playing so you don’t catch any of those steroid balls,” she shouted after me.  “Just paddle them, don’t touch them.”

“Okay, Mom,” I yelled from halfway down the hall.  “No ball touching.”

“What?” Bill called out from the shower.  “Whose balls are you touching?”

“Pickle balls,” I answered as I poked my head into the bathroom.  “Steroid laden pickle balls.”

“Don’t tell me,” he moaned, sticking his head back under the running water.  “I don’t even want to know!”



Spinning Balls

We were practicing our serves at the Pickleball courts when a couple we know, Mark and Deb showed up.  They’re new to Sun City and recently bought a house here near Mark’s parents to help take care of them.  Mark’s a ‘retired’ tennis player (code word for really, really good tennis player), and an excellent Pickleball player, so he’s been teaching Deb the fine art of Pickleball for the last six months or so.  When they spotted me and Bill lobbing the ball back and forth, they stopped to say hi and we invited them to play.

After four pretty good games where Mark was kind and didn’t beat us too badly, we decided we needed to head back home and check on Mom.

“That was fun,” Deb commented.

“It was.  Thanks, Mark,” I said with a smile and wave, “for going easy on us.”

“He really behaved himself, didn’t he?” Deb whispered to me.  “You know he hates to lose.”

“I know,” I said with a smile.  “I kind of figured that out the first time we played you guys.”

“I think that’s why he started to put spin on the ball during the last couple of games,” she continued.  “When the score gets tight, he just can’t help himself.  He did it the other day when we were playing against another couple, Lois and Bob.  They were both pretty good, so when the game got close he started to… well, you know.”

I nodded knowingly as I grabbed my bottle of water and started taking a long drink.  “In fact,” Deb continued, “Lois even mentioned how great Mark’s spinning balls were.”

I stopped in mid-sip, lowered the bottle and, trying really hard not to laugh, looked Deb square in the eye.  “I hope you told her that’s the main reason you married him.”

We’re meeting for another game as soon if Mark can get his spinning balls under control.