The Double Bounce Club is a motley mixture of older gentlemen and an occasional courageous lady who show up on a more or less regular basis to engage in their version of the game of tennis. Most of the members refer to themselves as the OFT. Depending on who you ask for a translation of this acronym, it would normally be referred to as the 'Old Folks Tennis Club'. However, if the translator is a non-playing spouse of one of the regulars, a pickle-ball player or a member of the younger generation who resents all those old dudes hogging the courts, the designation would probably be 'Old Farts Tennis Conspiracy'.
All of this takes place in an unnamed County in the Pacific Northwest, where the weather has a deciding influence on the quantity and quality of play. Hard core OFT members have been known to sweep the snow from between the lines, don their mittens and proceed with the game. When the rainy season takes over a version of the game known as soggy-ball tennis evolves, and players are forced to hit the ball harder and duck the resultant spray. After the hotly contested matches or on days when heavy snowfall or torrents of downpour prevent even the hardiest of souls from assembling on the courts, the group will convene to a local bistro to drink coffee and tell lies. Fortunately, there are a number of these local coffee-serving establishments, because it doesn't take long before the loud salty language, off-color jokes and heated political discussions convince the proprietors to suggest the groups meet elsewhere and scare off someone else's clientele. Most owners are a bit more devious and don't go to that extreme. They simply raise the price of a cup of coffee until the group decides to relocate of its own accord.
It has been suggested that some of the group actually dislike tennis but persevere for the sake of the group camaraderie and tuning into the latest gossip, which in many cases constitutes the only aspect of their otherwise non-existent social life. Others feel it frees them from any feelings of guilt for abandoning wife-imposed domestic chores.
There are rare members of the group who also engage in the pasttime of golf. To most tennis players, golf is not considered a sport; it's just a means of spoiling a nice walk in a park. True OFT members, however, are generally kind to these wannabe athletes and tolerate this unacceptable behavior. After all, these folks tend to be somewhat depressed after completion of their nine or eighteen hole excursions. OFT Tennis player ages range from the low sixties to the mid eighties for the men. For the ladies, this statistic is a well-guarded secret. One aspect that has been observed is that when seventy-year-olds approach the octogenarian antiquity, they tend to slow down noticeably in body and mind. There are exceptions, of course, of the few in their late seventies and early eighties who fly about the courts with the wild abandon of youth in vain attempts to collar an opposing drop shot or soft serve. However, most of the eighty-year-olds go into an exagerated shuffle or simply watch sadly as the ball dies in the middle of the court, or passes them by well out of reach. This became such a regular problem that the group became concerned that the games were moving along too fast, and too many of these old codgers were shuffling off the court, vowing never to return. The dilemma was resolved by creating:The Double-Bounce Club.
In accordance with this important piece of legislature, all players who reach their eightieth birthday are permitted two bounces instead of one in returning shots and serves. This amendment to the OFC charter has met with varying degrees of acceptance. The purists proclaim this bastardizes the game and refuse to take that second bounce even if it means subjecting their bodies to perilous dives after the first. Other octogenarians totally endorse it and will take the second bounce even when they can make a shot on one. This tends to confuse new members until they can remember who the old double-bounce codgers are. Identification buttons or, for those individuals with dimming eyesight, garish T-shirts in day-glo yellow, have been suggested as solutions to this problem.
Another complaint involves these slow movers going on extended walkabouts when searching for and returning errant balls. What to do about the time-consuming retrieval of balls from the next court, the parking lot or an adjacent county has yet to be resolved. This is not necessarily a bad thing: it gives some of the participants an opportunity to catch up on missed sleep or gossip and others to finish the arguments started on the bench, and provides the retrievers with the exercise they opted to avoid during play. On the other hand, by the time the required three tennis balls have been reassembled, each of the foursome has forgotten the score and have to start the game over. Double-Bouncers are a proud benevelent bunch. They welcome those celebrating their two score and twenty birthday with a modest celebration, which generally consists of a free coffee. There is a certain sadness that their playing days are on the horizon but a pride in the fact they are still out there while many of their contemporaries are no longer vertical.
On a summer day, when the sun is shining, the birds are singing and the Mariners won yesterday's game, the turnout of OFT players is well into double digits. Since there are only two courts, only eight players can be accommodated at a time. This makes for a lot of standing around and rehashing of most of the old conversation topics. In frequency these range from personal aches and pains, sports, fishing, crabbing (the marine activity), politics and sex (among those who can remember). But of more importance is how to determine the order of participants waiting their turn to enter the conflicts. The simplest and most used approach, which dates from the stone age of the OFT is to lay the racquets out in a line. In more recent years, the arrival of younger players with a more creative flair has resulted in the straight-line approach morphing into arcs, half-circles, partial figure eights and other exotic designs, which totally confuse many of the oldtimers. One problem with this is when the occasional old codger shuffling over to pick up his racquet trips, launching himself bodily into this creative display, it completely destroys the sequence. Play is usually halted until those who still retain a few memory synapses can recall the order.
The OFT is an actual more or less functional group. The OFT members, incidents and dialogues presented in the following pages are fictional and a product of the author's twisted mind. Any real person who identifies with a character in these anecdotes is in need of serious psychological counseling.
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