When Billie Beat Bobby
A few months ago, I had my first tennis lesson since leaving school. The lessons were a suggestion by my (in)-significant other, who may be becoming a little more significant but that’s definitely fingers in the ears time going “La, la, la” for a while at least.
I needed to find a thing that was just for me. A bit of down time. Time that wasn’t firefighting. The only way I can describe it properly is that the back of my head goes a bit fizzy when things get tough with Max. If I don’t deal with the fizziness, then things tend to get a bit more serious.
I think about that ancient French and Saunders sketch when they played two Barbour and Hunter wearing posh countryside ladies. Exclaiming “Fuss and Nonsense!” after appalling accidents like chopping off parts of their bodies. Brilliant. But the thing is that when stuff does go wrong, Max still comes first so I have to carry on however bad it gets. And so the stress builds. For me I can handle pretty much anything mentally but physically, I simply fall apart.
A few of years ago my hair started falling out in huge clumps, my fingernails started separating from their nail beds. Then at the height of the bad times the muscles in my left hand somehow started to seize. I’d watch my hand contract into a tight ball and couldn’t straighten it out. It was like watching a Venus Fly Trap. All of this was truly fascinating “Fuss and Nonsense.“ See how funny it is?! Anyway, so now I take stress a little more seriously. After all, if anything happens to me I’ve got no-one around who can step in, so I have to start to look after myself for the first time, wierd.
So when my lovely new man suggested we join a tennis class at his local club wittily named “Rusty Rackets”. Not that witty, granted, I jumped at the chance. At 7pm, when the class started the sun was still high and hot in the sky. A perfectly quaffed bowling green and playground neatly wrap around the courts in a way that Cambridgeshire does best. Sometimes I think it’s like living in the Shires, Hobbit like. Oh how I’d love to live in Bag End.
The class was small. One older gentleman in sensible non-sports shorts, two mums and their disgruntled pre-teen sons being forced to bond with their mothers even though it’s after school. One dad in his 30’s and two women in their 40’s (I continue to be deeply suspicious of them). Post adultery scar tissue is funny stuff too.
I do however now remember why I don't play tennis anymore. That first lesson was without a doubt one of the most embarrassing things I have done in years. The balls I managed to get over the net had ice on them when they finally came down and the others either moved at odd angles hitting people or went through the enormous invisible hole in my racket.
Women apparently 'glow' but not me. I hadn’t sweated like that since the day I gave birth, disgusting. The veil of genteelness I've worked so hard on for Bob's benefit defiantly hit the ground in flames. I couldn't make eye contact with him for ages after. Pity.
The following morning, bruised and battered I told a couple of mates. As my story unfolded their giggles exploded until I reached the highpoint, my shameful joy at beating a 14-year-old child in a 5-point knock about. I didn’t mean to actually jump, screaming with joy while watching the boy crumple in shame, confidence noticeably damaged beyond repair. It felt like watching a slow motion car crash.
My mates both fell about laughing, gasping for breath. Neither offered to help me improve my tennis game by the way, instead they asked where the class was so they could bring a bottle and come along for a laugh. I declined to share this information. So embarrassed but nice I can bring joy to so many. A good example of my obvious mental instability is that I still attend the class.
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