Thursday, January 6, 2011


The ladies that play on the adjacent court on Wednesdays are old. Not older than the hills, but they all have at least 20 years on our group. They’re all gray and braced and slow and accurate. They wear Christmas sweaters over their tennis clothes during the holidays. Sometimes during water breaks, we speculate which one each of us will grow into. (I think I’ll become the one who wears her tennis duds just a little too tight – the skirt is too short, the top rides up on her belly. Sometimes I think I’ve become her already.)

If I had to pick one word that described yesterday morning it would have been “stuck.” At the last minute, the teenager texted me that he’d forgotten his gym shorts, could I please drop them off at the main office at school? Because the teenager is more apt to get into a college on his grades, rather on any sports scholarship, I agreed. I’ll be damned if I’m going to let the school ruin his GPA because of gym. So, already a little late for tennis, I ran into the high school with gym shorts in hand, only to be stopped by the Entrance Monitor. These are people who, at first, appear as if they might function like a concierge, directing you helpfully toward points of interest at the high school that you surely don’t want to miss. But in fact they’re there to thwart efficiency, requiring photo ID and a monotonous sign in process before you’re able to proceed to your destination. As if there are so many adults in this world who actually want to spend that much more time with a teenager that they would try and sneak into a school and attempt to procure one. That desk at the high school – that was the first place I was stuck.

Next I was stuck behind a school bus. No further explanation needed there.

Then, the parking lot was full of snowdrifts and plowed piles, reducing the available parking spots by a third. Women were stuck in parking lot limbo, waiting for others to get in their cars and leave so they could take their spots.

When I got inside, the older women from the next court had just amassed in the lobby and were descending the stairs. They take the stairs slowly. One step. Then a little rest. Another step. Rest. It’s hard to believe these are people who are about to play tennis for 90 minutes. I was stuck on the stairs behind them.

I wasn’t even the last one to arrive. After I’d gotten settled in, Laura the Tennis Pro announced she’d just received a text from Gina. “I’m in the parking lot but I can’t come in. My effing key is stuck in the ignition.”

I always marvel at Gina’s ability to be ladylike. To use “effing,” instead of “fucking” even in a private text message. Even when she’s stuck.

Eventually, she did get her key out and came down to join us. During the break, she and I imagined ourselves twenty years hence, taking the court steps one at a time – maybe having a twinge of arthritis that slows us down even further – and when we do, pulling out our trusty iPhones to message the other ladies in the group. “I’ll be a little late today,” we’ll tap out with our rickety old thumbs, “I’m stuck on the effin steps.”

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