Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Sometimes You Have to Be an Ass – Part One

Many years ago I lived at this dated, yet wonderful apartment community in Charlotte, NC.

The architecture was timeless, not a single hardwood was felled unnecessarily, the property sat on rolling hills and it was on Providence Road. One could look at all 20 plus miles of Providence Road and not find a bad neighborhood or community, no matter how intense the search.

My apartment was within 50 yards of the two tennis courts on the property. It is rare to find a tennis backboard in good condition, particularly at an apartment community, but this one was in exceptional condition.

As my career at the time allowed for some home-office time, I would usually wait ‘til beyond noon to go out to use the backboard. I waited until this time out of respect for my fellow residents who wished to sleep in or who worked odd hours. Still, I would occasionally notice a partially opened door and the glare from a less than happy face.

I would usually spend 45 minutes or an hour working on my strokes with the backboard. Any of you whom have used a backboard know that even 15 minutes with one can be exhausting, but I would begin with some close-up touch shots (slices and volleys) and slowly increase my distance and the pace of the ball. It was all about focus and eventually I would find my self almost ridiculously far from the backboard, whacking the hell out of the ball.

This is when I would usually become more aware of my fellow residents or they became more aware of me. These last few minutes were more like a state of tennis drunkenness, expecting to tumble onto the court with the very next stroke.

Well, I come to the court this one day and place my bag where I usually do, about two or three feet outside the sideline between the court I am on and the other court.

After about 15 minutes into my tennis work-out, ten high schoolers come skating onto the adjacent court wearing roller blades. I take notice of this and reminded myself to make mention to the community staff, and I continue on with my work-out. Then I noticed they had lowered the tennis net to the ground, quite effortlessly – these guys weren’t new to this. Note to self: “Don’t shoot high schoolers, just tell the management staff”. I once was in high school.

Irritated, but understanding, I continued to focus on the ball and use this wonderful backboard I felt so fortunate to have at my disposal. All was well until one of the kids came over, grabbed the straps of my tennis bag and said, “Do you mind if I move this? We have a game going on.”

Suddenly, the climate changed. The sunny sky became cloudy, the warmth turned to a chill, the earth began to part beneath me and tiny little horns began to protrude from my head. I try not to curse in front of, much less, at an adolescent, but this page just got ripped from the Adult Handbook.

I believe, something to the effect of “Are you f*@#ing kidding me?” slipped over my tongue and through my lips.

Although these young guys weren’t carrying the thug type persona (they were probably just having fun without the respect due any tennis court surface), I felt the racket in my hand and the other two in my bag were an easy match for these ten youth - just kidding.

Apparently the words I hardly uttered, resounded with some conviction. As I began to politely instruct the one who had grabbed my tennis bag about the proper care for a tennis court and proper court etiquette, I found he was now an orphan, abandoned by the others as they headed for the gate.

Not always, is a work-out with a backboard, totally a solo event.

And, sometimes, you have to be...well you know.

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