With great trepidation, I show up for the first meeting at the local tennis league. I am nervous. There were fifty people, ranging from age 16 to 55, huddled under a canopy at the tennis center. Nobody looks fat. Tennis players are never fat by the way. I personally think we can cure the obesity problem in the blogworld
, and especially Mississippi, by forcing everybody into tennis leagues. Just my opinion.
I walk under the canopy with that familiar nervousness. It's obvious that most of these people know each other from years of playing together in the league. I am feeling excruciatingly awkward
as Brett - Party of One
... same anxiety I always feel among a group of total strangers.
I spot my classmates, who are all Team Captains, but I dare not make eye contact. I convince myself that they are too busy signing up new people and fumbling with lists to make idle chitchat with me. My classmates look just as good as I do. Hell, my crows feet ain't
any worse than theirs! I quietly stand up and wait for some sort of announcement to be made. Those twenty minutes are awkwardly
As I patiently waited, I kept thinking how I didn't belong here. I kept thinking how much easier this would be if it was a gay tennis league like the Houston Tennis Club
. In a gay tennis league, my confidence soars. With nothing more than a smile, I am eagerly
greeted and cruised by everyone. I am in my comfort zone. But this is a straight tennis league. I can't waltz through this as easily. I feel like a black sheep or a square peg.
Mulling through all of my anxiety, I wanted to bolt. I didn't make much eye contact with others. I felt the painful reminder that I was behaving just as I did in High School. I was being the same quiet and invisible person. God. I hate myself for doing this all over again. Why have I put myself in a situation that is bringing back the same anxieties that used to haunt me growing up? I could just kick myself.
Before I shoved my own foot up my ass, the Team Captains began calling out people's names to start a round robin
tennis tournament. Under their watchful gaze, the Team Captains would rate the new people and make the final picks for their team. Gulp. When the Team Captains got to my name, they looked up and smiled. They recognized the familiar name. I smiled awkwardly
back. They look proud to see a familiar face they hadn't seen in 19 years. My face beamed back at them.
I am promptly assigned to a court with a 16 year old kid as my doubles partner. Across the court, our opponents were another 16 year old kid and a VERY WOOFY
Cajun guy named Nick. His 16 year old partner has a KICK ASS serve. My 16 year old partner serves crappy and had a propensity for hitting the ball WAY OUT. I tried to counsel my kid partner to stop hitting the ball so hard, but he just shrugged his shoulders. Little punk.
My desire was to win -- despite my crazy ball slapping tennis partner. I played serious. Every time
there was a challenge at the net, I would outsmart and out muscle
Nick and his partner. Unfortunately, my partner kept generously giving them points trying to be a S U P E R S T A R! Little shithead. We lost 4-2 because he was clearly no Federer. :(
So, us two losers moved down to play the winners on the court adjacent to us. We switch partners. Of course, I get another 16 year old as my doubles partner. I soon discover that once again... I am graced with the worst out of the four to be my partner. How unlucky can I be today?
As I try to make the best out of a bad situation, I notice that I am hitting a lot harder than anyone on our court or any court near us. I am hauling ass, playing aggressively, and nailing the corners. Suddenly, I hear a Team Captain say, "I want Brett on my team!" Another voice says "Good choice." That made me smile so brightly. Those straps wound tightly around my heart released as if it was now glowing.
A former High School classmate had just picked me to be part of his team. I couldn't hold back my smile. I felt a flood of emotions gushing over me with relief. Wow! I am really no longer that invisible person anymore. Today, I AM somebody. It makes my heart just beam! :) Perhaps after joining this local tennis league, I can begin the process of erasing the lines of my two lives back into one. My soul feels like it is a step in the right direction.