There’s a guy in the side room at the club who hogs the robot machine. This guy, Robot Man (Gort?), doesn’t play with hominids – he only plays against the robot. Day in, day out, always with the robot. So, I asked this guy, doesn’t it get boring only playing against a machine spitting balls at you the same way 30 to 50 times a minute? And ya know what he said? He said, Absolutely not! And I love her. Yes! He said her anthropomorphically. Apparently he thinks the robot machine is alive … and that he has a romantic relationship with it. Scary! It’s freaking me out.
When I went into that room to retrieve a ball that had accidentally gotten beyond the barrier curtains of my table the other day, he was in there, of course, and I overheard him talking out loud. He was talking to the machine, can you believe it! And what he said was stupefying. He said nice shot! Are you hearing this? He said nice shot to a ping pong robot after he missed a ball fired at his back hand. And then I heard him say too good (!) when another ball went flying past him on the forehand side. (Apparently the guy had the machine on the random mode.) Now, I didn’t stick around to see if he kissed or hugged the head of this ball-chucking contraption, but I wouldn’t put it passed this nut to do it.
Here’s the source of the difficulty, the crux of the matter: the Robot Man just won’t relinquish the use of the table. He monopolizes it. That’s a real problem for Ping Pong Parkinson, because our members enjoy using the robot as one of the rotating stations during the main ping pong segment of our sessions. If Gort is practicing his flick – or, possibly, making love to the apparatus – it’s impossible to get in there and practice. So, I have counseled our group to recite these secret words which should work to have him vacate the machine for a while: “Klaatu Barada Nikto,” (It’s robotspeak.) If that incantation doesn’t work, I’ve instructed our ‘Pongers’ to get a bat, a golf club or a sword or a nightstick, and go in there and threaten this guy to vamoose for a half hour. And I’ve also instructed the group to be sure not to tell Robot Man that I sent them in there with all those weapons, because … well, I can’t run that fast anymore. I mean that guy is spooky! And if he finds out that I was saying bad things about his girlfriend (that she don’t kiss too good) somethin’ awful might happen to me. Lao Du