Ping Pong Solos And Doubles

Ping Pong Solos And Doubles

We ‘country’ children born in Trinidad and, in fact, most of the Caribbean, immediately after the Second World War did not have many recreation facilities or options.

There were two seasons, dry and wet, and this determined what games we played. No rugby or lawn tennis for us, no swimming pools or hockey sticks. The youngest of us played ‘whoop’ (a type of ‘hide and seek’), ‘stick-em-up’ (like the Wild West) and ‘Police and Thief’, which we stopped playing because increasingly it was, and still is, difficult to differentiate between them.

It was cricket in the dry season or ‘crop time’ for the boys and football in the wet. In-between, there was my favourite pastime, running, and then, when I was in my teens, ping pong (later known to us as ‘table tennis’) became a hit since as an indoor game it was not affected by the weather and, more important, in Trinidad, the land of ‘bobol’ (pronounced ‘bob-ball’, a confidence scheme, trick or fraud) and black market, rackets were not just commonplace but very cheap. In fact, bobol is supposedly still the most popular Trinidad pastime.

Ping pong was not, and is still not, my thing. As I told a Facebook friend recently, I ping when I should pong and pong when I should ping, but worse, I flick when I should smash and poke when I should lash. Even in using the word ‘lash’ I had to explain that it does not have the same meaning in Guyana as in the rest of the region.

There it is the common and accepted term for sexual intercourse. In exploring this further, we agreed that the table tennis board could do for either, but while it can take some weight, it should be net rather than gross. It is then my friend dropped some terms on me like chop, loop, snake, banana flick and chop block with the comment that if I got five minutes, I would spin a fine joke around them.

Unfortunately, in my teenage ping pong days, I was more interested in ‘love’ than anything else and had the unfortunate experience of rapidly and violently moving from two-love to none since both loves found out about each other and demanded to know what the deuce I was up to. One of them even dropped a backhand on me and the other one’s father threatened to chop me up, balls and all. I recognised that I was in too deep and doubles was not my game since I tended to make a meal of it. I tried a backspin with one of the girls later but when that did not work, I took up free hand and fore hand instead of inverted or funny rubbers. I even tried a Penhold and a Ping Pong Solo.

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By Tony Deyal

Jamaica Gleaner

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