My tennis instructor said something rather odd to me during my first lesson at the Bainbridge Athletic Club. He was lobbing balls across the net, as I struggled at the base line on my new technique: turn, circle with the racket, swing on through, rotate hips. I was breathing so hard I thought I'd have a coronary, as two men grunted on a court two down.
"Everyone who plays tennis has a little bit of lesbian in them!" His blond hair brushed over his forehead as he hit yet another deathtrap right at me. Set, swing, follow through. Try not to die. Breath.
"What did you say?" I said between panting breaths.
"I said, everyone who plays tennis has a little bit of thespian in them!" Oh! Thespian. That really cleared things up. This is tennis, not acting, Peter.
"What do you mean?"
"People behave on the court in ways they'd never dare to behave in their normal lives."
He grinned as he motioned to the men two courts down. One of them ran up to the net screaming like a caveman, his racket poised like a club. The other one growled as he hit his prey, shorts rippling against his bony legs.
It's true. People act as though the tennis court is a hunting ground, a breeding ground, or a bathroom. I'd be lying if I didn't tell you I've heard some peculiar noises coming from the ladies in cute tennis skirts as they slug a fast one. We're all grown-ups, though, and pretend we didn't hear a thing. It's all just a bunch of fluff, or whatever you want to call it.
Some women make sounds on the court like they are in childbirth. Loud grunts, high pitched squeeks, breathy oohs and aahs. One teenaged boy sounded like he was caught in a mouse trap as he pummeled the yellow ball. EEk! EEEk! He squealed over and over again, not realizing that he was emasculating himself with every perfect swing.
Sometimes, when there is no one else playing, David and I will practice our gutteral grunts.
We yell robustly as the ball flies over the net, never giving in to those impish squeals and shrieks. If tennis is turning me into a thespian, I may as well act like a cavewoman.