The man I love is an expert in many things; playing ping pong is one of them. I recently gave him a ping pong table for his (50th) birthday. Since it’s warmed up enough that we can play comfortably in the garage, we’ve been playing many games. It’s everybody’s goal to beat Dad/Curt. Only one person has accomplished this in recent history, Jessie’s 16-year old brother Adam.
Curt, who is left-handed, starts off playing right handed. He can win 90% of the games this way. If his opponent threatens, he switches to left-handed play and swiftly finishes the game.
A new life goal: to beat my husband in a game of ping pong while he plays right-handed. I am starting by just trying to improve my personal best record. Last night I reached 15 points against him. I think know he’s being easy on me, but he’s too much of a competitor, and has too much respect for me to “let me win”. He was born a coach with good observation and diagnostic skills. Along the way, he gives me pointers to help me improve my game.
In a Teaching Company tape about Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Professor Bonnie Wheeler said this about what makes a game (ludus in Latin) a game:
1. It is played between unequal partners.
2. A game has rules.
3. The play is repetitive (my turn, your turn).
4. The playground is well marked, has boundaries.
5. The game itself must be uncertain in its outcome.
6. The players are expected to be deadly serious about their commitment to the game.
I love a little competition in my life.
It’s going to take a while to make #5 a reality, but it’s sure fun working while I play!
When is the last time you played a game of ping pong?
Today is my husband’s birthday. Here’s a picture of him when he was 7. In honor of him, I wrote ten things that he’s taught me.
- The beauty of an ordered life. Long before Flylady, Curt had morning and evening routines. He enjoys a place for everything and everything in its place. I’m still reforming, but there truly is freedom, comfort and beauty when organization prevails.
- The nobility of truth telling. Curt has never been one to skirt the truth. There is never a question on where he stands. This is why he is my best critic. I know if something stinks (breath, writing, etc.), he’ll let me know. I tend to be a cowardly liar, looking for ways to shade the truth in order to please others. In a culture soaked in deception, honesty, spoken carefully but candidly, is refreshing.
- The peace that comes with planning. My philosophy has been to think about “it” when “it” arrives. How many papers did I write the night (or early morning) before they were due? No so with my man. He would begin the day the assignment was announced, even if it was six weeks before the due date! That’s why our wood is cut, stacked and split in June.
- The graciousness that comes with thanksgiving. I take it for granted, but after each meal, he always says a sincere thank you. His gratitude is a lubricant that makes life smooth.
- The security that comes with fidelity. A man who fulfills the vows that he’s made brings a sense of security and safety to his family members. They are confident that he will do what he says, that his word really means something. His employer is certain that the job will be done faithfully. His friends know they can count on his help in time of need.
- Being masculine is good, if you are a man. I cried the first time I shot a gun. I still hate them, still confuse shotguns and rifles. There are ways in which men and women differ, and it’s OK to be different. My husband has a strong hunter/gatherer strain in him. He taught me to accept this without trying to change him.
- Being decisive is efficient. Fear of making the wrong decision doesn’t paralyze Curt. He usually knows what he wants and makes good decisions. Sometimes his firm decisions are wrong. He backtracks and changes without a whole lot of agony, fuss and hoopla. Confidence, rooted in humility, is attractive.
- You don’t have to be the life of the party to be funny. When we are at social gatherings Curt gladly takes the back seat to some of our quick-witted friends. The more people there are, the quieter he gets. At home, it’s a different story. I can’t remember a day in the last month that he didn’t make me laugh, really laugh, at some turn of phrase, pun, or wordplay.
- Daily discipline is its own reward. Whether it’s getting up early, lifting weights, running, or studying, Curt is a good disciple. The struggles with motivation that most of us have seem to elude him, because he truly enjoys it.
- My life for yours. I have no doubt that my husband would take a bullet for me, dive into the ocean if I fell overboard, or go into a burning building to save our child. The reason I know is because he lays down his life daily in our home. Life is in the little things. Things like getting up in the middle of the night and stoking the woodstove, warming the car before we leave, doing the dishes after we’ve had a crowd of people over. Things like going to work every morning and coming home every evening. He has shown me what sacrifice looks like.