Wednesday, March 28, 2012


There are two types of people at my work: those who play ping-pong and those who do not.

Those who don't play mostly forget that the ping-pong table exists. They use it as a place to put their stuff while they pour their coffee or heat up their lunch. They don't give it a moment's notice as they pass it on their way to grab a granola bar or trail mix from the snack table. To them, the tap-tap tap-tap of the hollow ball blends seamlessly into the background music and sounds of conversations and phones ringing.

But make no mistake about it, those who do ping-pong are not messing around. They own their own paddles. They own cases for their paddles with zips and padding. There is trash talking. Layers of clothing are removed. Sweat is involved. They're good.

And I want in.

I don't know if it's because I sit right next to the ping-pong table. Or if it's my obsession with this movie (which is amazing, btw). Or if it's my crazy-competitive nature. Or if it's because I still feel a little bit on the outside of things. But I have an irrational need to become a ping-ponger. It has been the sole preoccupation of my spare time--I have spent the past two and a half weeks observing the ping-pong scene, trying to figure out how to make this happen.

My first problem is that I'm not very good. And it's kind of a boys club. If I were to ask someone to play with me, I would immediately feel like the damsel in distress. Oh kind sir, I am absolutely helpless when it comes to ping-pong--would you please show me how it all works? Oh this is what they call a paddle? I want to be taken seriously because, sure, someone would have to familiarize me with the rules since I haven't played ping-pong since I was a 14-year-old boy (read: never), and I would need some practice, but I'm very coordinated. And I catch on quickly. And I have a mean tennis forehand that I think would translate famously to ping-pong.

My second problem is that I don't really understand how games are initiated. Are there rules about who you ask to play? If you're really bad, is it taboo to ask someone really good? Is there some sort of underground tournament that I would be disrupting if I were to initiate a game? Is ping-pong time so precious that someone would be intensely annoyed to waste their time playing a newbie? Mostly I envision a game initiation going something like this

Me: Hey X, want to play ping-pong?
X: Ha!

Or worse

Me: Hey X, want to play ping-pong?
X: Uh, sure. I guess. (wince.)

I'm about three weeks in, and I think I've almost worked up the courage to ask someone to play tomorrow. Or maybe Friday. Or maybe 2013. 2013 seems like a great ping-pong year for me.


Ryan said...

I feel an irrational amount of anxiety on your behalf over this.

Ryan said...

I feel an irrational amount of anxiety for you over this.

Stacy said...

There is a ping-pong table at institute, which a lot of people tend to stick around a play afterwards...I see this and then I leave. But, I am sure maybe your future EC would help you. (sometimes I crack myself up when I really think about what I am saying and who I am saying it to)

Elisa said...

I love that social anxiety is a really active tag on your blog.