I was thrilled to see a few people playing Ping Pong in a room at the newly opened Ping Tom Park Fieldhouse last week when I went there swimming. It had been years, if not decades, since I last played ping pong on a regular basis.
A middle-aged man said hi and offered me his position at a table. I couldn’t resist. Without any gear of my own, I borrowed his paddle and started playing. I was amazed how quickly everything came back. Ever a fast and near-the-table player, I found myself slamming hard at a ball that rose high on the table.
“Sorry,” I apologized as my opponent, an elder man, watched the ball hit the table with force and bounce away.
“Wow,” he paused to give me a good-natured smile before going to pick up the ball.
A few people playing on the other tables stopped to watch us.
I slowed down, so we could play a few backhands and forehands drills.
It was the end of the practice time, and a couple of staff members at the Fieldhouse came in to put the tables away.
Probably because it was in the middle of the afternoon, most of the players were older men, very likely retired. They were very friendly and asked me to come back.
I soon found out the Ping-Pong practice time is 1 to 3 p.m. every weekday.
I’ve been back two times since then and have a good player who introduces himself as “Sam Sosa.” Two other good players are a couple, Tony and Jennifer. They have become my Ping-Pong buddies. We can play some long drills, working out a sweat. I learned that they go to the Chi-Slam Club at Chicago/Ashland to play competitions. I’ve been to the club once before, but it is too far away and too dangerous for me to ride my bike over.
I’m so excited that finally there is a place near the south loop where I can easily get to. Hope more good players will show up here as well. No opening time in the evenings or weekends is certainly a drawback.
It’s a bit challenging to carve out time in the middle of a workday to play Ping Pong. I’m working to adjust my schedule, trying to make it there once or twice a week. Instead of working out first thing in the morning—my regular routine for years, I’ve started getting down to work first, and reserve a couple of hours in the afternoon to for Ping Pong or swimming a few times a week.
What a joy and luxury!
Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China, which has been developed into an award-winning feature-length documentary movie by Susan Morgan Cooper and is narrated by Jacqueline Bisset. Visit www.mulberrychildmovie.com for more information.