JUST A LIL' OL' PICKLEBALL CLINIC

Saturday was my chance to teach, or rather as the Town of New Paltz would have it—conduct a "clinic" (a word that smells of ether and beeping and moans echoing down heartless hallways) a clinic in the fine art of "pickleball" (a malaprop that rhymes with tickle and fickle, is redolent of vinegar and divulges as much about the game as recent movie titles do about the movies they're tagged to). Swallowing my linguistic embarassment, bag of paddles and whiffle balls in hand, I headed to the gym to await the crowd.

Despite a two page spread in the local Times on the game just two people showed: a sweet and eager ten year old (who happens to be one of my beloved godchildren) and a woman, age unknown, who confessed that she had had too much wine at lunch, and had showed up because my wife, who remembered her curiosity about the game, called her. Which all turned out well for I (with the help of some friends who came by) was able to give the two students plenty of attention. And since they were so willing and responsive I had them in the thick of a game within an hour. They were exhilarated by it.

Anyone would be.

The game is an inspired creation. A family out on the West Coast in the good old Sixties came up with it. They wanted a game that both kids and adults could play—together. They got it. It's simple, easy to get the hang of, full of action, and you don't have to spend long hours and hard-earned cash being coached for the next thirty years just to hold your own on the court. By the same token you can get good at it and better and better. It's the best game I've ever played.   

But there's one more thing I want to say about this game. Call it Pickleball. Call it what you will. There's a Zen of it. Yep, there is. I can feel it coming more and more into my game. Relaxed, resting in joy, one can taste perfection. This makes it worth playing. Really worth playing.

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