Man vs. Machine

You don’t have to know me very long to realize that I’m not very athletic. Actually, you don’t have to know me at all – you just have to get a good look at me. “Good look” means more than about 2 seconds. God had other purposes in mind when he created this body. Those purposes are, in some ways, still a mystery even to me.

However, one of the few sports I’ve been OK at in my life has been tennis. I played it for a few years in high school (shortly after the invention of the ball), and continued into my 30’s. Then I sort of let it fade away. 

But now that I’m somewhere between 49 and 51 years old, I’ve suddenly been struck with the urge to play again. So this week I bought a new racket and new shoes (new tennis shoes I mean; I didn’t just go buy random shoes), and I went today to a park in Redondo Beach where they not only have tennis courts, but also those tennis ball machines that hurl tennis balls at you with potentially deadly force. My thought was, with so many years having passed since I’ve actually touched a ball with a racket, let alone gotten that ball to go where I want it to go, I’d probably drive an opponent crazy trying to hit with him/her. So playing against the ball machine for an hour seemed like a good plan. And it was. The ball machine was known as the “Shotmaker.” See photo at top.

But I’ve gotta say – that little ball machine is mean. He’s ruthless – seriously, he’s absolutely without ruth of any kind. Because even with my long absence from the game, I’m sure I was at least somewhat fierce for a brief moment here and there today, especially with my new racket and (tennis) shoes.  I managed to even HIT the ball machine several times with my shots, which created a satisfying “klunk” sound. There, I thought. That’ll slow him down. But no, the little **&&$$!!*%  just kept flinging ball after ball at me.  He was robotic, almost, well, machine-like. You’d think that with all his other capabilities, there could be this little recorded voice that would occasionally say, “Nice shot,” or  “That’s the coolest racket ever,” or “Ohhh… so close,” or “that was out by a mile.” But there was no such voice.

Then, to add further insult, whenever he would run out of balls, I’d be the one who’d have to go around the court with this little ball pickup thing and pick them all up. Only to reload the macine and have the degrading process start all over again.

Oh, I might add that I actually paid for this insulting treatment.

But your day is coming, little Shotmaker Ball Machine. One of these days I’m going to smack a return at you and hit you so hard that it will literally cause you to move, perhaps as much as a quarter inch on the ground. Then you’ll think twice about the way you treated me today. Or, at least you’ll have to pause and reset yourself before continuing your humiliating ball flinging.

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One Response to Man vs. Machine

  1. Andrea Flores says:

    Charley,

    Nice blog. Not to embarrass you but you are a very talented writer. Could see you writing some type of book some day? -Andrea

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