Wednesday, August 18, 2010

communication is a myth

My little brother is only two years younger than me, and every summer there was a quest to find ways to get rid of us find stuff for us to do during the summer days. This was back when cities could afford to offer services, and it turned out that tennis lessons (taught by one of my older brother's friends) worked well for us. It felt sort of familiar, since Mom had played at a club in town for a long time. So we played tennis for however many years.

My family has been lucky enough to spend regular chunks of time on Cape Cod throughout my life, and the house there is a short walk through the woods past the cemetery to a nearby condo development, with a tennis court. It's locked in a cage of split logs and chicken wire, with a combination lock, but the condos are mostly vacation rentals, so anyone will give you the combination, and we'd go and play pretty regularly, especially the summer we were working down there in the mid-90s.

(There, I once played this cute girl, who was one of those overdriven young athletes, with her own cranky Australian coach and everything, who wanted to make sure I'd be "enough of a challenge for her." She beat me, but it was harder than it should have been, and she was extremely frustrated at her inability to beat me faster. Not only am I a halfway decent tennis player, but at the time, I had an uncontrollable forehand with backspin on it, and it was just messing with her head. Now I can control it, and it still messes with people's heads.)

Our tennis excursions came up back home sometime later.
"No one stops you?", Mom asked.
"Yeah, you just walk in and play."
"It's not whites-only?"
I don't come from racist folk, so there was a confused, awkward silence.
"Um...isn't that illegal?"
Mom, of course, meant the traditional dress code--a feature of her tennis experiences, but not ours.

1 comment:

  1. I love this story :-).

    Reminds me of one my Mass-born social studies professor would tell about being a young navy lad posted to Georgia, doing his own laundry for the first time in his life. At the laundromat, he dutifully put his white dress uniforms in the "Whites Only" washers, and then ducked into the dark, less clean back room for his "Colored" uniforms. And couldn't figure out why people were looking at him funny...