As the weather warms, outdoor activity becomes tolerable again, and each family member finds their own amusement in the outdoors. Mary is usually in the garden, or in her room having her daily “Heartland” marathon. Have any of you ever watched Heartland?
If “yes”, oh boy, please, Mary would delight in hearing your opinion. If “no”, please, don’t start. Because you will never stop. You’ll quickly become engrossed in Amy and Ty’s complicated relationship (which Mary and I, serious anti-hopless romantics unlike some certain other two Slattery sisters, can not stand). You’ll laugh with Malorie, the spunky, silly neighbor, and you’ll laugh AT Lou, the dramatic, ridiculous, city sister. Oh, wow, whaddya know? I think I know someone who matches that city sister description quite well. Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Anyway, you’ll hear more on Heartland later, I’m sure.
My personal favorite outdoor activity would be violently thwacking a tennis ball against the front of the house. This is torture to all those inside the house, but I hear screams and shouts of frustration and intensity coming from the back of the house…what could this be? Only one thing. Ping-pong.
Summer is fast approaching. Meaning ping-pong mania. Crazy ping-pong mania. In which my mother mysteriously disappears from the kitchen and is found in the barn….lured there by none other than one of her very own sons.
Visitors are frequent to the Slattery farm, and believe me, the screams don’t stop for guests. I’ve never actually heard this, but I can imagine. Upon hearing the screams over and over they might ask, “Pray, tell me, what IS going on behind your house??” Dad answers. “Oh, just a ping-pong match. It’s pretty popular in our family. Almost as popular as it is in China.” Visitor: “Chinese, you say? Sounds like some kind of torture to me…we prefer Chinese water torture at our house…” Because that’s the kind of visitors who come to our house. Just innocent organic farmers..or are they?
Mom is a huge ping-pong fan, and she’s quite good at it, as is our father. They’ve successfully passed that trait onto their sons. Oh, yes they have daughters too, who together make up the Sweetridgesisters. As far as I know, none of us girls have developed much of that ping-pong talent.
Actually, I’m lying, I could be quite decent if I tried, it’s just the learning process of ping-pong that I can’t take. Unlike my brothers, I don’t have the patience to practice the spins of the paddle and the twists of the wrist. I am not a patient person, and I don’t practice until I get right. I get it right the first time, or the second, or the third, and if not I am done. Yes. I am occasinally a spoiled brat. Youngest of nine kids. At least I admit it.
But when I do occasionally trudge out to the barn behind our house for a game, I am then left to play against “the masters”, a.k.a, the people have taken the time to work on their skills and are now going to completely crush me. This is where the innocent little game becomes torture for me.
I am a sore loser. This is true. Extremely. I cannot stand to lose. And that’s the whole deep dark secret behind why I abstain from ping-pong. Because of what happens when I lose. When its 20-10 I hit the tiny, round, hollow, plastic ball harder. And then I lose control. The ball rolls away, across the floor. I chase it, but I just can’t catch it! Away it rolls and then STOMP! I smash my foot, hard, and stop the ball. Well, R.I.P. ping-pong ball, you’re squashed. This has happened several times. Torture, it is.
I can just imagine, one day they’ll have a news article on this newfangled type of torture, and they’ll interview me. And I’ll say, ” There I was, with the barn doors shutting me in. I’m down, 20-12. I thought it couldn’t get any worse, but then the ball rolled off the table and down the barn stairs. The stairs.” Hopefully I’ll get some sympathy.
And so the next time I go out to the barn, I’ll see that ping-pong ball rolling away, floating effortlessly across the floor, laughing at me. It’s saying, “Come catch me, Clare, come and get me! You can’t! You can’t catch up with me! I’m just like that mean old gingerbread boy you hated so much in the storybook when you were young. I’m mean!”
And I’ll say, “Yes, Little Ping-Pong Ball, you are.”