The Governor of NY just announced that Phase IV is about to happen in Westchester County. Before you jump up and down like a third grader who’s just been handed a Three Musketeers bar before going outside for recess, you should know that this phase 4 opening excludes the WTTC which is considered a gym, and Coumo put the kibosh on opening up gyms. Not just that – he hasn’t indicated whether there will be a phase V allowing such facilities to open sometime in our lifetime. So, perhaps it’s best to consign your ping pong days to some fond recollections that you will soon totally forget. Me? I don’t think I could get to the club without a GPS anymore, and I forgot whether you play to 15 or 21. The club has practically vanished from my consciousness. Well, a couple of things I remember. I do know that 2020 had some special significance, although I get confused about it. Until yesterday, I thought that was my table tennis rating until someone disabused me of that notion, insisting it was this year of our Lord.
I’ve forgotten a lot of stuff. I forgot the owner – the guy with the puzzles (the biggest puzzle was why he was using a Seemiller grip) from Iowa or Nebraska somewhere. Whahtzizname? Ya know, the guy who eats popcorn. Jeese, I can’t even remember the names of most of the people I played with. I vaguely recall two Caribbean guys who said they were Jamaicans (probably from Queens), one very old who looked like some west African dictator, and the other always taunting me with ya think you can really beat me? Now in respect to these two dudes, I’m just saying I can’t remember much about them anymore (except one of ‘em owes me 20 bucks, so I hope he’s physically well so he can repay me. (Black lives matter … especially when I’m owed some money.)
I remember that there were some Russian guys who played over there in Westchester – and that they weren’t all tied up with the Russkie mafia, but I’m not absolutely positive about that. I just remember that if you beat a guy named Anatoly, you might have your racket hand crushed as soon as you exited the joint. (You know, the kind of thing that happened to Paul Newman in The Hustler.) I remember there were some African professional table tennis players who were keeping McDonald’s in business. I remember a few people from Brooklyn who wouldn’t know who the Duke of Flatbush was, and they probably never heard of Ebbets Field. I remember there were Spanish guys, and Turkish guys, Japanese and Koreans and Filipinos. Some Indians, some eastern Europoean types, too. And there were even a few white guys. Rreally! I see all of these faces blended, swirling until they’re all mixed up. If I ever get there again, I’ll probably call the Irish guy Giovanni. I’m afraid I might call the Italian guy who stands 50 feet behind the table, Amoolya, which may be a woman’s name, I’m not sure anymore. Oh, yeah, there was a guy with tattoos. I kinda remember what he looked like, but I’m afraid if I saw him I might blurt out a wrongful name such as Tattoo. I may call the guy named Sam, Zack and the guy named Dan, David. Oh, man, it’s just a blur. How quickly we forget.
Oh, wait, there was this one old fossil who wore heavy black pants when it was 94 degrees in July, who played with a sandpaper racket and who thought he was really hot stuff. I remember him a little bit, but that SOB was complaining about something or other all of the time. I forgot his name. I also recollect there being a Russkie couple – Boris and Natasha. I think they were spies and were just using ping pong for cover. And then there was a man named after a horror film actor – Bella Lugosi, Boris Karloff or Vincent Price – one of those for sure. I don’t know which one of those he was, but I remember being frightened to serve a ball to him because I can hear him saying I see dead people when he was playing with ME! There were a lot of Chinese players. I remember that, and one of ‘em, whose name escapes me, an irritable man, taught me how to curse in Mandarin. He was a Budhist with a bad temper. I had never met a Budhist guy going bonkers, but this vegetarian had a tempeh tantrum. Yeah, never saw a meatless fruitarian go off like that. Let me see … oh, yeah, I remember now. He kept repeating in Mandarin son of a bitch and you’re just a good for nothing bum! Oh, lord, now that I think of it, maybe he wasn’t using those words to teach. Ah, I shoulda given him a few points. If I had, he’d probably be in Nirvana by now instead of sheltering in Joysey.
I also feel guilty about the time I played this cachexic gomer. This guy was old and feeble; needed the table just to support himself. But, damn it, he was so competitive! He wanted to kill me. Ah, I shoulda let him win, too. I mean the guy was ready for hospice ping pong, but my own aggressive nature regretfully took over, and I just murdered him with a couple of serves to his gut. Just before he threw up, he defaulted. Well, I recorded it as a victory in my diary anyway, but now I feel guilty about it. Never knew what happened to him. Maybe he’s having sandpaper nightmares.
I remember playing this guy with a reverse penhold backhand. No one should be allowed to play using a penhold grip. I’ve always said, if you wanna be a penholder, than go out and buy a Bic. I’ve always thought that. (Editor: Yeah, and you wrote about it before, Mr. Al Z) Besides, such a grip is un-American. Just shake hands with the racket, for crying out loud.
I’m pretty sure there were Parkinson’s people there, too. I forgot the names of the ones who could juggle better than me, but I remember everyone I could beat in Ping Pong (only because I record all my victories in my diary).
The other thing I remember, is that the joint used to leak. Yeah, the roof: it leaked, then it dripped, then it seeped. Not anymore. Oh, yeah, there was a time, not that long ago, when there were pots on the floor. A lot of them. I thought maybe these were spittoons at first, but then I figured, nah, we wouldn’t need that many. I mean how many repulsive, lowlife spitters would we have in our club? (A lot). Later I understood that the pots were there to catch the… precipitation. At first I thought I was doing a good bit of sweating, but then I noticed my hair was getting soaked. Based on the porous nature of the roof in the joint, I thought it would have been a good idea if we had petitioned the owner to at least provide us with raincoats when there was a bad forecast. At the time, even when it drizzled the place leaked like a sieve. It was like taking a ride on the Maid of the Mist up in Niagara Falls. And the entrance way, as a matter of fact, was more like the Horseshoe Falls. Good thing he had the roof fixed, because if the leaks had gotten any worse, we might have been swept away by the currents. I once told the boss man that we were probably gonna need a ferry service between table one and table four. He did respond, but what he said wasn’t clearly audible because the splashing on the floor was so loud. I have a feeling he said that with all the water leaks, it was a good thing that the tables were Double Fish. I mean come on, there was so much water in the joint, the tables were floating. It was like having 18 rafts in those two rooms.
Now let’s get back to the crooner, the Governor of New York (Perry Como). He’s not opening up gyms as I’ve noted, but he is reopening “Houses of Worship.” That’s our ticket! Our own sanctuary – the WTTC – can reopen because we are indeed a cathedral … of sorts. Does not the new construction include built-in grandstands which are really pews? And is there not a new canteen area which is really an altar where stuff can be blessed (Xushaoufa 3 star balls)? Plus, to prove it’s a genuine spiritual venue, we can have all the tables facing East. Now, I would certainly attend a church with services presided over by Ma Long or Courage Nanevie, especially if it were governed by strict orthodox Jadaic rules which would prohibit women – to abide by the guidelines for social distancing purposes, of course. Yes, I think it’s doable. Make sure you bring your rosaries and a mask. Lao Du