Ann and I just sat down after our third and final racquetball game. It had come down right to the last point, and she won it 16-14.
We'd played two games before that and split them. The third game was the tiebreaker.
She won the tiebreaker, so she won the day's racquetball match. She had won the previous four days' matches as well. She's never beat me five days in a row. She's getting good.
I could complain about how my elbow was swollen from the previous day's racquetball competition with some of the better male players at the club, but I won't. It didn't mean I didn't try that trick, but Ann counters that by saying she's the survivor of two heart attacks. Hmmm. Good point.
My arthritic left knee, I say. Her one-size-too-big tennis shoes she picked up at the lost & found, she says. My poor, failing, glaucoma-impaired eyesight, I say. Her lack of experience compared to mine, she says. And so it goes.
We've managed to draw even in racquetball. I've played her for over a year now, ever since I found out she loved to play competitively. The first few games we played, she thought I was playing unnaturally poorly and complained bitterly. I switched the racquet from left to right hand and then showed her a typical right handed serve velocity, and showed her a few kill shots. It wouldn't be fair. I played competitively in my university days. So I switched to left hand and promised her that in a few months I'd get better and give her real competition.
I did. I learned how to serve left handed. I had to learn how to forehand smash left handed. I had to learn how to instinctively position my body to set up for a left handed shot. In a few months we were going at it tooth and nail, and I would win consistently.
I've never played anything competitively with a woman before. My former wife hated my sports competitiveness, and I learned to forego that portion of my life. I was a cheerleader for my daughters when they'd shoot baskets or we'd play basketball, but I never permitted myself to care about a game. They were naturally competitive anyway. It wouldn't have helped.
But with Ann, it was different. She'd get nose to nose with me if she thought I was throwing a game, or giving her shitty weak serves. I asked her, do you REALLY want me to play all out? Of course, she'd say. What's the point of playing if I don't play you at your best? How can I ever get any better?
Now, sixteen months after we started playing racquetball together, she's edging me out. She's getting better than me on a consistent basis.
She still thinks I'm giving her the games. She still feels I'm not playing all out.
If you're reading this, Ann, I'll tell you a secret: I'm not. I'm playing as hard as I can. You're really winning, because you've gotten better.
She's really quite uninhibited. It's refreshing to know a woman like this.
So we were resting after our final game, and I was sweating profusely. Ann was looking merely dewy.
She said she felt a bead of sweat rolling down her backbone.
And then she said, quite unselfconsciously, "I haven't sweat during sex since I was in college. What I need to find is a 30 year old man who will make me sweat again."
It must have been the honesty that comes from tiredness after a good battle. I laughed. I looked at her and said, honey, if you can find a good 30 year old man who'd make you sweat, you go for it, girl. God knows I'm not keeping up with you any more.