Thursday, June 24, 2010

Wimbledon in the Suburbs

This week's marathon Wimbledon match got me thinking about the summer during college that I spent working at a tennis club in Bethesda.  It sounds glamorous, but let me tell you, it wasn't.  There were no rich, muscular, well-tanned hotties to be seen.  In fact, I was the youngest person by at least two decades.  The cast of characters was vast and varied -- a strange mix of elderly retired and awkward yuppies.  It was also a hotbed of gossip and sexual tension.  The elderly were like a bunch of hormonal adolescents on and off the court.  The days I couldn't work, my sister or my Kindergarten Friend (I've known her since we met in the Doll Corner in Mrs. Spangler's class) would fill in.  Our duties consisted of making sure the members signed in and making sure that nobody went on the courts with black-soled shoes.  I think we also sold tennis balls, but I can't really remember.  It was deadly boring, but paid something like $10 an hour, so it was worth it, kind of. 

Our boss, the Tennis Pro, was about 65-years-old and the stud of the courts.  The old ladies loved him, comb-over and all.  Tennis Pro's Girlfriend was a wretched woman.  She was a perky, blond, 60-something who pranced around the clubhouse in her tennis skirts, fake hot pink fingernails, and matching lipstick.  She never signed in like she was supposed to, and generally pretended that "staff" didn't exist.  She called me "Carrie" the whole summer.  She and Ed spent a lot of time in his office, her girlish giggles tinkling out from under the door.  It was nauseating.  Also in the cast was the French Lady and her husband, Hair Plugs Man. FL sounded like Minnie Mouse with a French accent and HPM had fresh hair plugs and a reddish scalp that looked like a baby doll, little tufts sticking out in all directions.  HPM was extra friendly with "the girls" at the desk (me, my sister, and KF).  Rounding out the group were "The Kids," yuppies Steve and Lisa, who lived together but were not married(shh!), and also were not "kids." 

It was definitely a ragtag group, none of whom should've been wearing short tennis skirts or shorts.  Every once in a while, one of the old ladies would come out of the dressing room or toilet with part of her skirt tucked up in her tennis panties.  It wasn't good for anyone involved.  Also controversial was when someone who wasn't a "regular" showed up to play.  It usually did not go over well.  God forbid they showed up without a court reservation.  When that happened they were relegated to the wall where they could hit balls at the practice board.  Those were also usually the same people who would show up in inappropriate footwear.  If that was the case, TP would just turn them away.  I suppose it's a bit like showing up at The Prime Rib without a jacket -- you just don't get in.

TP loved nothing more than a "paaaw-ty" (he had a very heavy New York accent--he also loved to say paaaw-ty), and used each of the major tennis tournaments as an excuse to throw one for the gang.  The big paaaw-ty was for Wimbledon.  He began planning for it weeks in advance.  Any time someone came into the club, he'd ask them if they were coming to the paaaw-ty: "Steve, Lisa, are you coming to the Wimbledon paaaw-ty?"  They, of course, were.  TP even planned a "mock" Wimbledon tournament for the members of the club where they played each other in elimination rounds in advance of the paaaw-ty. 

Finally, the day of the paaaw-ty arrived.  The elderly drank to much, Lisa made out with Steve, TP flirted with everyone but TPG, causing an uproar, HPM's hair wafted in the summer breeze, and general (boring) mayhem ensued.  It was as if someone had mixed the Golden Girls with The Real World.  The only thing missing was a hot tub.  I was in college at the time, and had never seen a party quite like it.  I still don't think I have.  But at least I know that when I hit my AARP years, I have someting to look forward to.  I just need to learn how to play tennis -- either that or get hair plugs.

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