a fine pickle

With pickleball sweeping the nation – and the world – as the newest fitness sensation, it’s hard not to have read about it, seen it, or maybe even tried your hand at it. For me, probably the least sports-playing person out there, I’ve only watched from a distance. Admittedly, it looks enjoyable, but I’ve heard both the positive and the not-so-much. To wit:

It’s a wonderful workout; it’s easier on the body than something like tennis, let’s say; it’s great for those who might not want to run on a court as much; it’s lots of fun; and the paddles and perforated balls are just so cute (okay, that last comment is my personal observation).

I do know of a few people who have been injured playing the game, though, including a dear friend who is one of the most active and most fit people I know. There she was, playing pickleball one moment, then down on the ground with a torn Achilles tendon the next (arguably, an injury that can happen in any sport – NBA basketball comes to mind, although that’s not exactly the same thing). To be fair, while I have yet to hear of pickleball elbow (sounds like a recipe for macaroni salad), it probably does exist.

Either way, the non-athletic me has chosen to cheer from the sidelines. Given my ongoing propensity to get into trouble because of my impressively high klutziness factor (adorable, I know, but you’ve got to know your limits), walking seems to remain my safest bet (hopefully).

Not surprisingly, pickleball became a focal point of a discussion one morning as we waited on line for bagels. An older gentleman ahead of us was talking about his workout regimen at a very ritzy (this was the point of his talking about it) athletic club, where he indulged regularly in a round of golf followed by a game of tennis followed by a sauna, then an ice bath, and then a massage accompanied by a glass or two or three of the finest, private-reserve, single-malt Scotch. Didn’t we all love to do that? he asked the group of several people within earshot.

I managed a non-response response while B., trying to be friendly, mentioned that his own game used to be tennis until he injured himself several years ago (if you’ve never heard or felt a calf muscle snap, consider yourself lucky). Mr. I-Could-Buy-this-Bagel-Place-with-the-Money-in-My-Wallet nodded knowingly and then moved on to more feats of his own greatness including his driving a Mercedes S-Class to get to and from his club (apparently his Jag XF was being shipped to the south of France for his summer in Nice) and wasn’t the cost of valet parking just outrageous? You get my drift here. Fortunately, his everything bagel (the perfect order for the man who apparently has it all) was now toasted and cream-cheesed and ready to go.

But then a new voice emerged on the scene, a guy who had come in for a refill on his latte and had cut to the front of the line to get it. I recognized him immediately or, should I say, his type. I went to college with lots of guys who could be his father – a full-of-himself, entitled, trust-fund baby who was raised to believe that every word out of his mouth was a jewel. Apparently, he had overheard B.’s tennis story and felt compelled to jump in with his assessment of the situation:

“You know,” he said, “what you need to do is play is pickleball. It’s really easy to pick up and would be ideal for the both of you.” We thanked him but told him that, while it was probably a great pastime for lots of people, we had our concerns. “That’s ridiculous,” he said dismissively. “It’s the perfect game for older folks like you who probably haven’t been very active recently and who probably want to get back in shape.”

Nice, very nice.

“In fact,” he continued to pontificate, “you’d have to be an idiot to hurt yourself playing pickleball. It’s easier to hurt yourself by falling out of bed.” Even nicer. Seriously, dude?

But then, in one of those perfect moments that seemingly only happens in movies, the universe handled things on its own. While young Mr. Who-Knows-More-Than-Me-About-Anything began to walk out the door, busy laughing to himself at the inane idea of someone getting hurt playing pickleball, he took a wrong step and and bumped – hard – into the side of the doorway.

In a difficult-to-watch domino effect, he rebounded over a couple of potted floor plants, did a twirl or two, and then careened into another patron – and that person’s bagel – before teetering precariously on one foot and finally ending up flat on his butt. His newly refilled decaf latte with extra foam spilled all over his spotless (until then) designer athleisure ensemble, and a blob of cream cheese from the bagel collision decorated his forehead (attracting the attention of a tiny Yorkie who scampered over for a lick). Rudely brushing off anyone’s help (“I’m fine – leave me alone!”), he hurried off to his Porsche (conveniently parked nearby in a no-parking spot) and sped away. Any injuries? A major bruise to his oversized ego.

“Didn’t that look harder than falling out of bed?” I asked B. “Because I kind of think it did.”


Ā©2023 Claudia Grossman

6 comments on “a fine pickle

  1. Loved it–but the bagel and cream cheese sounded delicious.!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. I worship this one.

  3. I WORSHIP this one!

  4. To paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, this is “proof that God exists and that [they] love us!”

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