A Bouncing Ball and a Bruised Ego

September 7, 2008 by trooce · Leave a Comment 

There comes a time when you look back on your life and recall the moments when you truly accomplished something special.  For some, it might be a physical act, like climbing Mt. Everest or finishing a marathon.  For others, it could be a creative  act, like writing a best selling novel, or inventing a better mousetrap.

When I look back,  I am proud of being a good father and husband.  But, the more I contemplate my accomplishments, the more I keep going back to the one success that towers over the rest.

I finally beat my mother in law in a game of ping pong.

Immature, you say?  Insignificant, you proclaim?  Let me explain.

My mother in law was born and raised in Taiwan.  Every day during lunch, as well as three nights a week, she gets together with friends to play ping pong.  She is consistently the league champion.

As for me, I get as competitive as you can possibly imagine.  I will risk serious bodily injury and humiliation in order to win a point.

When she arrived in San Diego, my first instinct was to play nice.  After all, I was the future son-in-law,  and the reason that her daughter was moving from Taiwan for good.  Fairly early on, she suggested we play ping pong.  Sounded innocent enough, and while I don’t play that much, I figured heck, I’ll even let her win.

The first match set the tone.  Not only was she beating me, she was blowing me away, and to make things worse, I could tell that she was taunting me in Chinese as well.

“I’m sure you can beat me”, she said.
“Should I hit it softer?”

For the next few days, I knew my mission in life.  No need for sleep or food. I became one with the ping pong paddle.

We played over 30 matches.  I never won, but at least I heard some new taunts.

“Maybe you should try playing left handed…or maybe I should.”
“Where are my glasses?  I can’t believe I’m winning without my glasses.”

The next day, she was gone, back to Taiwan.  My official ping pong record was zero wins, 35 losses. With each day that passed, I muddled through with no purpose in life.  A broken shell of a man.

Fortunately for me, a few months passed and she called to say she would be visiting us again.  The clouds lifted.  Time for a rematch.

She arrived, and after exchanging pleasantries, we got down to business.  The first ten games were a replay of the last trip.

But then came the 11th game. I could do no wrong.  I have never played so well, before or since.  Final score: 21-18.  Game over.  My new record: one win, 45 losses.

She wanted to keep playing, but there would be no rematch.  I would finish my career with a win.

Does it make any difference that she had jet lag from her 12 hour flight here, or that I’m twice her size, 20 years younger or that she still has a 44 game advantage over me?

Nah.  A win is a win in my book.

Dressed to the Nines…or Maybe Just Four and a Half

September 3, 2008 by trooce · Leave a Comment 

They say that men are from Mars, and women are from Venus.  I don’t know much about that, but what I do know is that wherever the men are, they are dressed in comfortable clothes.

My wife Maya and I are having a disagreement over some of my clothes.  Specifically, some of the old t-shirts I wear around the house.  For some mysterious reason, she’d like to donate a number of these shirts to Goodwill because they are, in her words, “too worn out and disgusting to wear anymore”.

Then she makes the smart-alecky comment that she probably can’t donate them because “Goodwill probably wouldn’t take them.”

Let me just set the record straight.  I own some nice clothes.  Whenever I need to attend a business meeting, a wedding, or other formal occasion, I’m prepared.

But, the fact of the matter is, I work at home.  I spend most of my day writing e-mails and making phone calls.  I just don’t see the point of wearing nicer clothes at home when there’s nobody there (except the family) to see it.  My wearing nicer clothes probably won’t impress them and certainly won’t impress me.

Still, Maya seems pretty adamant about the whole thing.  She’s repeatedly mentioned, half-jokingly I hope, that at some point while I’m out of the house, several of these shirts will suddenly disappear, and I will be forced to break in a whole new set of clothes.

Not wanting to let this matter go without a fight, I decided to take a stand with the handful of shirts in question to hopefully delay their demise for a bit longer.  So last night, I sat down to write a little note, which I subsequently pinned to one of the shirts she finds most disagreeable, and put it on her vanity to discover.

This is what I wrote:

Dear Maya,

I am soliciting your input in regards to the attached article of clothing.

It has come to my attention that you have some objections at my continued wearing of said garment.

I would greatly appreciate any input you may have that might help me determine what to do with the shirt mentioned above.

Apparently, you feel that this shirt is too worn out with holes and stains for me to continue wearing.  However, it is my belief that this shirt still retains some intrinsic value.

Every frayed seam represents a unique moment of my life.  The oil spot on the left side of the shirt brings back fond memories of a terrific dim sum meal.  The hole near the collar brings me back to a classic Sunday afternoon touch football game where I scored the winning touchdown.

I’ve worn this shirt with pride, and through the years this shirt has earned my respect for what it and I have gone through together.  It is quite literally – a part of the fabric of my life.

This is why, at this point, I am leaning towards keeping the shirt for several more years.

As I said, any input you can provide will be greatly appreciated, unless your opinion is that I get rid of the shirt, in which case, I should let you know that I keep an inventory of these shirts, and it will immediately become apparent if one or more of them suddenly makes an unexpected departure.

Your loving (and comfortable) husband,