Sunday, January 3, 2010

How I Suffer for Love

It’s Sunday night and the wind is howling. Google Weather says it’s 19 degrees but the thermometer outside my kitchen door says four. I’ve barely left the house today, committed as I am to maintaining physical warmth, so the cold shouldn’t be so much of an issue, but it is. Because tomorrow is a tennis day.

I usually play Mondays and Fridays with an occasional Tuesday or Thursday thrown in. The last time I played tennis was 12 days ago and I am literally counting the hours until my clinic tomorrow. (Seventeen, as of this writing.) My whole family is counting the hours, because I have become such a shrew the past few days. No one can stand it when I don’t play tennis, least of all me.

But the “club” where I play is cold. It’s cold in general, and then on these windy, frigid days it’s unbearable. Laura the Tennis Pro sometimes wears a fleece cap the whole time because she just never warms ups. We’re all layered and some are scarved. I would be gloved if it were possible to play that way. We jump around in place waiting for any little dash or sprint that will allow us to generate some body heat. We pray for spring.

I refer to the club as the “club” because the term club connotes a certain elegance or sophistication that this “club” sorely lacks. Obviously, my biggest beef is the temperature. But often the whole experience is like playing tennis in an old church basement. The décor is tacky – tragic because someone recently made the decision to redo the lounge and managed to take the original downscale elements and trade them for downer scaled versions. White faux bamboo seating was replaced with white plastic patio chairs. The kind you can get at the hardware store for $10.

I’ve often gotten locked in the bathroom, both in the stall and in the bathroom proper, where latches don’t work, or doors fall off hinges. It’s a little risky to pee there.

On Fridays we’re on Court 5 and there’s some big, metal apparatus hanging over one side of the court that seems like it’s blasting cold air half the time. I think that’s the “heater.” On the other side of the court is an exhaust fan that intermittently goes on and shuts off and when it’s on you can’t hear a word anyone is saying. Even the number on Court 5 is shabby. The other courts have a big numeral stenciled on the back wall. Court Five’s numeral is hand-rendered and half the size of the others. Shelley, who is most comfortable in a tidy and orderly environment, finds this numbering faux pas an abomination.

I’m not sure what the answer is. North Face tennis skirts? Hot toddies on the sideline? It’s all so easy to complain about here and now, in that counterproductive way I have of somehow trying to ruin something that I am so ardently looking forward to. Of trying to temper the gloriousness of something that I’ve come to so desperately need.


  1. Robin sloane seibertJanuary 3, 2010 at 4:22 PM

    I'm with you on waiting to play tennis. I am looking forward to it also, but unlike you, i am glad to have had a break. Finally my wrist doesn't hurt and the ball of my foot doesn't hurt. Am in the middle of reading Andre Agassi's book and I can't believe how injured a human being can get. by the way, he says he hated tennis the entire time he was playing, i mean really hated it.
    as to the cold, i see women in my "club" basically a baseball diamond that they throw a bubble over, wearing leggings under their tennis skirts. maybe that will work for you. or you can wait until you are menopausal when you will be thrilled to have the cold.

  2. Last time I played (outside) I wore fingerless gloves. I thought I wouldn't be able to grip the racket, but it was fine. And it beat having numb fingers (reynauds...)