Billy and I have been playing squash together for the past few weeks at my gym. I’m not terrible at it! Which means I really enjoy it. I enjoy things I am not terrible at, like most humans. Billy is also not terrible at squash. He is, in fact, quite skilled at squash. Not to mention the fact that he is naturally athletic and if he does NOTHING to maintain himself (and by NOTHING I mean the opposite of something, like actively not moving and eating cake pops all day (yes, cake pops are a thing, and they are delicious)) he is still better at all sports things than I am. Was that a confusing sentence? Yes. Sorry.
So anyway. I exercise regularly and I played tennis a bit as a kid so I know my way around a racquet (LADIES! (?)). Billy does not exercise regularly but his thighs are inexplicably still made of solid stone-like muscle (jerk) oh and also he’s very good at squash and played it a lot in college and after college. So you’re caught up. Now let me take you back. To 1999.
I was a freshman in high school and by then I’d been playing tennis recreationally with my dad and stepmom and taking lessons and stuff for say four years probably. I wasn’t amazing but I knew what I was doing and was able to hit the tennis ball in a normal way that a normal person would hit a tennis ball after taking lessons and stuff for four years. But I was lumpy looking and shorts never fit me right and stuff. So I didn’t look like I would hit a tennis ball like a normal person. I looked like I would hit a tennis ball like a lumpy, ill-fitting shorts-type person. One day in gym class (this was before I started at the super-gay performing arts magnet high school that let me skip out on gym class) we started a new unit: tennis! Hooray! I knew this would not be as embarrassing as previous endeavors in gym class. I would be able to hold my own or at the very least not embarrass myself too badly. So they walked us out to the tennis courts and told us they’d be putting us into groups: beginners and intermediates. I was like “no way am I going to be a beginner. I’ve been playing tennis for a number of years!” I wasn’t being cocky. I just could not have fathomed, under any circumstances, that a person such as myself who had been taking tennis lessons for four years could possibly be considered a beginner at tennis. Like, a person who had never played tennis before. I had played it. Lots of times. Countless times. At least like a hundred times.
I’m sure you know where this is going. They lined us up and hit us a tennis ball one at a time and had us return it. Amanda, this athletic girl in line in front of me goes “this is going to be silly, I’ve never played tennis before” and I felt a rush of anticipation and delight at the prospect of her being put into the beginner group while I was placed into the intermediate group. She was nice and everything but oh how satisfying that would be. They hit the ball to her. She returned it. Gym teacher goes “intermediate!” and I balk. Gym teacher hits ball to me, I return it, competently, she goes “beginner.”
That was not a good moment for me.
I know it was because I was lumpy.
Almost everybody was put into intermediate. It was me and like four other lumpy girls, the rest of whom had never played tennis before. Fine. Whatever. The next year I started theatre school and didn’t have to go to STUPID GYM CLASS ANYMORE. So fine. Anyway, I played some of the best tennis I’ve ever played during that day in gym class. At one point the teacher was like “have you played tennis before?” And I was like “yeah I’ve been taking lessons for like four years?” So.
That’s the back story. I have history with racquets.
So last Sunday Billy and I played squash and he is good and I am a beginner and that is TOTALLY FINE. Like I don’t expect to be amazing. I would just like to get some points sometimes! That’s all I want!
We played a couple games and I didn’t get any points at all like every other time we played and usually I don’t get points and it’s still fun but on Sunday we played two games and I didn’t get any points and I sat down on the floor and wept. I sobbed. Literally. Have you sobbed in public recently? I have. On Sunday. I hugged my knees to my chest and buried my face and sobbed and sobbed.
Billy, luckily, in addition to being very skilled at squash is also very skilled at husbandry (not animal-raising but wife-maintaining). He cheered me up (eventually) and we played some more and didn’t keep score and I got a serve in and he biffed the return and I would have gotten a point if we were keeping score but we weren’t and I wasn’t even mad that we weren’t keeping score. It’s just nice to know sometimes that I am a capable adult human being who can do things in this world that other people have always been able to do. And a part of me is still that lumpy high school freshman but it’s a small part.