PICKLEBALL —SANTA FE STYLE

Santa Fe's just a dusty old cow town despite its pretensions to be the New Age capital of the world. Witness its obliviousness to the master game of Pickleball. There was nothing for it but for me, a complete non-entity, to flap all the way from New Paltz, a smaller New Age oasis, and introduce the game.

There are a few people out there in the high and dry desert that like my company so I go out there every once in a while. This time I brought my super-dooper purple paddle and a few orange whiffle balls. Fortunately, there were public tennis courts nearby. Chalk lines were laid down, because pickleball court dimensions are slightly different. A few words of introduction: like we play to 11, and you serve underhand, you can't hit it on two bounces, you can't plant yourself in the no-volley zone (that the snowbirds from Florida I learned the game from call "The Kitchen" which name came from the retired Floridian wives who are bound and determined to stay out of the goddamned kitchen) etcetera. A little practice, a little warm-up and away we go. Dumpy and out of shape though they were, my friends loved the game. But perhaps I go too far: they appreciated the possibilities of the game.

The unique addition that Santa Fe brings to an already grand and challenging game is wind—woooooowwwind like you wouldn' believe: muscular, affronting, insulting, unpredictable, gusty, lusty, erratic, blasting, coy, now playing possum, now trumpeting like an elephant in heat, swirling, dropping dead, pouncing from the opposite direction, caressing, soothing, lulling, then roaring by like a string of tractor trailers—a grand, uninhibited blowhard of a wind. Why, you would whack the ball due east and westward it would go! There was no such thing as a straight line; every shot had a big, sweeping hook to it. The wind off the desert was like the spirit that goes, as the scriptures declare, wherever it listeth. There weren't two opposing teams there were three. And that third team gave no quarter. It was a free-for-all. Best of all you had to take the dreaming out of your feet and wake up to the new untamed game of SantaFePeekleBall. Yahoo and ride-em cowboy! What a game, what a world, what a life!

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