Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Ping pong


I played table tennis, or rather ping-pong, at the group studio of my friends. The men are kind, gentlemanly, with me when we play. They compliment a good hit, and fail to keep score, patient when I repeatedly lose the tiny white ball. With each other they curl back their lips and expose their incisor teeth as they serve.


On the airplane ride home, I surreptitiously watch Olympic women's single table tennis on my seat mates television. Young asian girls with manly, unflattering haircuts play an awkward and ungainly game, and for some unknown sportsman's reason, players must retrieve errant white plastic balls by themselves. Climbing over barricades, and scrambling around after the ball only serves to make the sport that much more undignified. These girls, however accomplished they may be, will never be the subject of the fantasies of men too old for them, the realm reserved for half realized Amazonian women like countless gymnasts and volleyball players.


I attended the orientation for incoming graduate students three days ago in the courtyard between the college buildings. I don't yet know the better routes to take, and had to carry my bike up stairs in various places; sweat begins to gloss my forehead and back as I arrive at the half circle of unoccupied chairs, the little folding table of juice and chips. Early, I arrive early but am uncertain until I ask. Other people mull around the little galleries ringing the courtyard, filled with the artwork from other schools. I compare my age to their percieved age. Am I old, or young, in comparison to this group? The same question is better translated as "Am I accomplished or am I slow comparatively?" I do not come to a conclusion. My foot is trod on when I try to find a seat, and still I go unnoticed until I bring it to the attention of the person still standing on me. It's a photography student, which I find predictable in the way that personal prejudices are always noted when confirmed. Of course a photographer fails to observe her surroundings. I prefer to feed this dislike of people who have skills I don't have, rather than admitting that I'm the one who made myself omittable.


When the Olympic table tennis player serves the ball, she twists it in her hand, cupping it and turning her wrist around, concealing the action behind the paddle, flicking the ball out suddenly--graceful and deft, like a magic trick, like a promise. I doubt what it will be before the ball reappears, struck by the ready paddle and bouncing across the tiny taut net--perhaps this time it will be something else instead.

Graduate Student Open Studios
September 7th
2pm till 9pm

PS I just broke my camera. I was considering making some thing, like more teacups, to raise money to replace it and then realized that I now had no camera to photograph the items to sell to buy a working camera. Damnit!

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