I am not an athlete. I spent one season in high school keeping the bench warm for the other girls on our Junior Varsity volleyball team. The rest of my time was spent in musical or academic pursuits, which have, in my opinion, definitely paid off, but I did miss out on some of the physical and relational benefits of being in team sports.
My husband (Rob), on the other hand, spent a good deal of time and energy playing sports. His sport of choice is basketball, but he can easily apply himself to almost any other sport (and has). Any time a team needed another guy to fill out the roster, they called Rob and he just didn’t have it in him to even consider saying “no”. Words like “play” or “game” or “tournament” are music to his ears and he said (and still says) “yes” without even hesitating.
It was on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon when we were new parents that he got a call from a buddy to play tennis. We could see the tennis courts from our college apartment, and Rob told his friend the courts were empty so “come on”. He grabbed his racquet and a can of tennis balls and headed out the door with a hasty “good-bye”. No problem. I had spent the morning working, so this was some time for me to spend with the baby and figure out what to fix for dinner. After a couple of hours, Rob came in just as the phone was ringing. He grabbed it. It was Buddy #2: “Hey, I just saw you down at the tennis courts…where did you go?” Rob replied that he came home but could head back over for some more tennis if Buddy #2 wanted to play. Yes. It was on. Another hasty good-bye and a half-hearted “Are you ok with me playing again, Babe?” as he headed out the door and I just shook my head and started in on dinner prep. Fast-forward another hour or so, and in comes Rob, all sweaty but smiling. Obviously had a great time on the tennis courts. “Can’t stay,” he says, “Buddy #3 is waiting for me to play a quick game of tennis. Won’t be out very long. Bye.”
Okay, this has gone from barely acceptable to ridiculous and I am steamed. I call up my friend who is house sitting for a family with a pool. I pack up the baby and head over there to cool off (literally and figuratively). After awhile, Rob called looking for me and asked me if I was mad at him. I said, “THREE TIMES IN ONE DAY you went to play tennis! Yes, I’m mad!” He apologized and said that he got caught up in it and would never do that again. And to this day he hasn’t.
It is now 35 years later and I recently started taking tennis lessons. It’s awesome. I have to force myself to get off the court and go home. It’s so fun! And addictive! I finally get the whole team camaraderie thing. And the endorphins kicking in. And just how much fun it is to swing a racquet at a little green ball. One day, when we were playing, I told the tennis team, “I owe my husband an apology.” And then I told them the story I just told you. And then I went home. And told my husband, “I’m sorry. I finally get it.” We had a great laugh over it and now we go play tennis together.
Stephanie Parker lives in the Atlanta area with her husband Rob. They have two grown children and three grandchildren. Check out Stephanie’s website www.LearnWithStephanie.com
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