I don’t think anyone else in the world plays ping-pong like my family plays it.
I’m not sure if there are rules. If there are, I don’t know them. No one does. The game always begins normally and deteriorates into a gleeful free for all, ending in hysterical bouts of laughter and minor injuries. Here are just a few of the most entertaining… I can barely bring myself to call them ‘moves’:
1. Bounce the ball off my brother’s loose tooth, knocking the tooth out of his mouth and onto the ping-pong table. Continue playing.
2. Perform the much-lauded pinball-esque bounce off both metal support pillars, smack my visiting grandfather’s forehead, and finish with a spike into one of the sports equipment bin.
3. Hit the ball too hard and watch it clear the table and land on the concrete next to my brother’s foot. Watch as my brother dives after it insisting “It’s still alive! It’s still alive!” as he desperately keeps the ball bouncing. He bounces it off the floor all across the basement before finally steering it back to the table. (Note: This move sequence will not work with carpeting.)
Of course, no extreme sport would be complete without obstacles. The top three would have to be:
1. Spiderwebs. These are nasty and invisible. You’ll be retrieving an errant ball and cover your hand in nasty sticky gunk. The ball will generally be so covered in cobwebs and cat fur that you’ll have to peel it like an orange before resuming play.
2. Demented children. This obstacle was introduced a few weeks ago, when my mother’s old friend, her husband, and her two children visited. One of her children, a four-year old boy, apparently objected to us playing ping-pong. He made this objection known by pummeling us with various items, including a pool noodle, plastic softball bat, and a cat bed. The mission that day was “Play through the pain.”
3. DumbCat. I’ve mentioned DumbCat before, but only briefly. Words cannot explain how stupid this cat is. I’m not trying to be mean either – I love him – but it’s the truth. He’s adorable and loving with big amber eyes emptier than a candy store after Halloween. His favorite expression is one of perpetual confusion.
Often as we play he’ll insist on being held, only to jump down on the table and look around, completely ignoring the ball whizzing past his face. We’ve even hit him a couple of times by accident, and he barely twitches. In fact, I took a ping-pong ball and dropped it on his head, and he just looked out the window. The immovable object – check.
With all of this, you can imagine that our ping-pong games get a little hectic. But our basement is cool in this 100+ degree weather, and it’s always good for a laugh.
Update: You’ll notice I added a new tab in the righthand corner – ‘Find Me At…’ Here anyone who’s interested (Hi, Mom) can stalk any original writing I have scattered across the web. Not much, at the moment, but I hope for more.