Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Father (as in paternal parent, not God) (04/10/08)
TITLE: PING PONG DAD
By Celeste Duckworth
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When Dad brought home that big green ping pong table, our lives were changed forever. Dad worked two jobs to help feed and support us. By the time Dad could put up his feet for a few minutes, he was always asleep. That is until he bought that ping pong table. Dad was a master ping pong competitor and we had no clue what waited for us in our ping pong future.
Dad quickly set up the table, snatched his paddle, and centered his body on his declared side of the table. He rocked his body by pivoting on his toes for supreme balance. He looked like Rocky Balboa to us and our eyes widened in worried anticipation. His glasses were sliding down his nose and he said, “TIME!” He ran into the house and came out with two Band Aides strapped to the side of his head to hold his glasses in place. My brother, Chuckie and I gasped. We had never seen our dad like this. Our fear: what was he going to do next?
Immediately we launched for a paddle and attempted to try to hit the flying ping pong balls back to weird Dad’s side of the green table. All of our efforts were in vain as we had no previous experience in the game. Every time we missed, he would holler, “Ha! Gotcha again.”
Desperately night after night Chuckie and I battled our way through one pong tournament after another. Chuckie often would get frustrated and run into the house to escape Dad. Chuckie was 11 and I was 12 the year of the first ping pong tournaments. We both were tired of losing every game to Dad who never felt sorry for us. I just got mad and decided to practice the game when Dad was at work. Right after school and homework Chuckie and I would race to the garage, open the door and play our hearts out until our feet were torn up and our arms ached. Our goal: beat Dad.
For two years the night pong game’s decided winner was always Dad. Soon the tide began to turn gradually. The games were getting closer because we began to tie with Dad. There was new hope on our ping pong horizons. Chuckie and I had developed strong and fast pong skills. We now began the verbal jousting, miming what Dad had often said to us.
“That was not on the line! You need more tape for those glasses. Here’s some Windex, Dad!” Chuckie would cry out.
I said, “That was my point, not yours...its 20 to 19, my favor, you can’t cheat like that!”
Dad said, “I’m not cheating, that’s the score...20 to 19, my favor.”
On and on the jabs would echo through evening hours until all of us were weak with laughter, dragging our tired bodies into the house for a shower. We had added a chalk score board, in an attempt to try to keep Dad in line. Many times Dad would fake a skid and wipe off a mark from our side of the board. We challenged him all night and every night. He loved it and so did we.
Then the day arrived: it was huge, a possible pong skunk. It was six to nothing and I was not to be distracted by Dad’ wrestling match tactics this time. I was zoned and focused. Sweat dripped off my brow because Dad had served his famous grand slam in the far left corner. I nailed it! A big Indian whoop brought the rest of the family into the garage to watch, the excitement was incredible. The ball sailed as if in slow motion to the other far side of the table and Dad missed it! I had skunked my Dad! The whole family shrieked with glee as Chuckie and I danced and whoo-hooed all around the table. It was the grandest day for sure.
Yep, that ping pong table had changed our lives. Far beyond that, Dad had molded us into champion ping pong players. Both Chuck and I have won many tournaments easily because we can stand the pressure and focus entirely on the game and the weakness of our opponents. We have also taught our grandchildren how to play. Their faces looked as shocked as did ours when we played with our Ping Pong Dad; let the games begin...again!
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