I Am The Spin Doctor

Each year between late March and early June is table tennis season at our house. Or, for the unwashed masses, “ping pong” season. During those months, the temperature in the garage is just right, so out comes the table and out go the cars to sit for a short while in the driveway, exposed to the elements.

It is a season when a 46-year-old man with a bad back and a nagging case of turf toe can shine. Cocky young men from near and far flock to the garage, gird their loins (what little they have), and try in vain to knock off the “old man.”

There is only one caveat: They must serve correctly, or I will not play them. Ball held in the flat of the palm, above the table, tossed at least 6 inches without spin, contact made on the way down behind the endline. None of this cheesy, hitting-the-ball-out-of-your-hand crap. This is my house, my rules (which happen to be International Table Tennis Federation approved).

But they cannot beat me because I am The Spin Doctor. I Am Legend (sorry, Will). I have a headband and a set of vintage 1970s wrist bands. They have no chance.

Sidespin, topspin, underspin, knuckling no-spin, you name it, I have it. I have more spin than a Hillary Clinton press conference. I have more patience than Job. That is something that cocky young men do not have at all.

This spring is no different. They come, they play me, they lose, they cannot believe it, they sulk.

I am the Spin Doctor–look upon my wicked, diving topspin smash, ye mighty, and despair.

  1. Donna

    You go spin doctor!!

    I love to do that on the tennis courts as well!

  2. Mike the Eyeguy

    Donna, I forgot to mention that I Am Sore too.

  3. Stoogelover

    I would love to see you and my wife play. I had all those spins and she would beat me just about every time! Drove me nuts. I finally got rid of the table and went back to calling it “ping pong.”

  4. Mike the Eyeguy

    It’s the same way with Scrabble around our house. But Eyegal can’t beat me at table tennis. My sidespin gets her every time.

  5. Brady

    I am impressed that you are able to do so well by only playing a few months per year. I play all year round and still get beat soundly.

  6. Mike the Eyeguy

    Brady, I guess it’s like riding a bike, only different . Did I ever tell you I was the table tennis champ at Camp Alta Mons for several years running?

    Well, I was, and that probably helps explain some things as well.

    So, is there a Swiss table tennis equivalent to Roger Federer?

  7. Brady

    Not in my house…

  8. Mike the Eyeguy

    I always thought you looked a little like Bjorn Borg.

  9. Hal

    Marathon runner and table tennis champ. Hmmm. You remind me more and more of Forest Gump with every post.

  10. Mike the Eyeguy

    A very keen observation, Hal.

    Like Gump, “I am not a smahutt man, but I know what love is.”

    I haven’t beat anybody from Communist China, though. But it’s not over yet.

  11. Stoogelover

    You know that’s how the Chinese will eventually take over the world, don’t you? Beating eye doctors at table tennis. Don’t ask me how, I just predict, I don’t explain!

  12. Mike the Eyeguy

    Not if I’m using my Forrest Gump autographed Flexolite ping pong paddle, they won’t.

  13. hazelmotes

    A memory test … A few summers back, I remember playing the Spin Doctor in Table Tennis. Wisely, the venue was my garage, with temperatures hovering in the hi 90s, and enough Tennessee humidity to keep the headband saturated and the eyes blurred. Besides, who is this International Table Tennis Federation? My rule: Just get the little white ball across the net.

  14. Mike the Eyeguy

    If my memory serves me correctly, you won the first game and I won the second. I don’t recall playing a rubber match. It must have been that Tennessee humidity and the fact that we’re both getting a little long in the tooth.

    How about a rubber match, my garage, “my” rules next time?!

    I’ll make sure there’s plenty of water in the fridge and some O2 tanks on standby.

  15. Mike the Eyeguy

    Oh, and Hazel, you’re the second person on this blog to have a Flannery O’Connor character pen name.

    Now I’m going to have to go back and read Wise Blood.

  16. hazelmotes

    Rubber match! Yes! The place is set. Only the time remains. The confession I’m about to make may take some of the air out of the competition, but on most days, I am no longer the number one player in my own home. My only begotten son, with good evidence, can dispute my former claim as no. 1.

    P.S. I settled on Brother Motes only because I could not find the courage to go public with the more apt Hulga Hopewell.

  17. Mike the Eyeguy

    Next time R. plays baseball in Huntsville, tell him to bring his paddle as well as his bat. I want to play him too–as long as his serve is ITTF legal, that is… 🙂

    You are much more humble that Hulga, but I know that you, like me, probably have Hulga-like moments. Let’s both resolve to make them the exception rather than the rule.

  18. hazelmotes

    Actually, I am Hulga. Cf. Nathan to David: Though art the man. Flannery to Mike: Though art Hulga (Joy) Hopewell.

    But to Flannery, life is not, finally, tragic, but comedic. So the kinship shared with Hulga and Hazel and Tarwater, has, like Jesus’ parables, begun slowly to teach the “terrible speed of mercy.” And to be grateful (through clenched teeth!) that grace must wound (our pride) before it can heal.

    Eyeguy, I look forward to deepening these conversations soon, perhaps after recovering from an ITTF-sanctioned Table Tennis bloodfest.

  19. hazelmotes

    Find and Replace. Though and Thou.

  20. Mike the Eyeguy

    Bring it on, Hazel, er, I mean Hulga.

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