I enter the squash court waiting area, and proceed to look cool and chill
out, waiting for my opponent, hereafter known as "Higgy" to arrive. To pass time,
I do a little aggressive inline yoga, a technique long lost to the West.
Soon, Higgy arrives, and I look down upon him with distaste and a sense of
impending victory; Higgy is an overweight, scruffily dressed mathematics
teacher. I find myself smirking, and fill my Nike designer water bottle with
undisguised eagerness. Higgy then takes the tiniest squash racket in
the world out of his bag. It looks like a tea spoon. He gives it an experimental
flourish, and suddenly starts hitting his chest, groaning and panting.
Now if there is one thing my time in the slums of Addis Ababa taught me,
it's that the opponent with the least equipment is often the more dangerous
one. The little black boys in Ethiopia don't play soccer with boots on; they play it bare-foot, and with a ball made
from saliva and the bones of dead U.N. Peacekeepers.
These little boys don't need equipment; they've spent their formative years
hunting down locusts and avoiding rickets and kwashiorkor.
But due to some strange combination of adrenaline and a Christ complex, I
completely forgot this little lesson, and thought to myself: "Look at that pussy
racket. How's he gonna hit the ball with that tiny thing?" I take out my racket,
custom designed by the finest craftsmen in Pakistan, where squash isn't just
a sport, it's a motherfucking religion. In Pakistan, they cut off your
hands for making shoddy squash rackets. My racket is a cross between a hockey
stick and a tennis net, and comes complete with a built-in flashlight and
a microwave oven.
So we take to the court, and I'm feeling confident. I'm feeling good, full
of energy, ready to take this fucker down. I flick him a cocky salute, and
then point at a spot near the front wall, Babe Ruth-style. I'm trying to get
across the idea that "right there, mister, right there, is where I'm going to
leave your corpse when I'm done with it, to be fed on by maggots and flies
and shit". I laugh, crazy-like, just to make sure he has some idea what he is
up against. I think he understands, and looks away quickly. And then it is time
One hour later, Higgy has beaten the shit out of me so badly that I am carried
off the court and brought back to life with a bottle of water. I am told that
I was clinically dead for 30 seconds after slamming my entire body
into the wall of the court. Higgy hadn't moved for the entire hour, just gently
bending from side to side as he powered shot after shot at my face.
I hate squash. Not only do I have to now put up with the humiliation of losing
to a balding, overweight maths teacher, and the pain of blisters on both hands
and feet (and, incredibly, knees), but also the complete shame of actually
being killed by a sport that advertising executives play during their lunch hour.
As an added indecency, at sometime during the match, my body stopped sending
blood to my brain entirely, in order to preserve enough for basic human functions
like breathing and sweating. I was thus not in any state to realise that,
about halfway through, Higgy's girlfriend came on instead of him and beat
the shit out of me as well. And she hasn't played squash since '87.
I went to the freeweights area to work off my anger, but was scared off by
what seemed to be Riff-Raff from Rocky Horror doing bench presses.