There’s this guy at the club – let’s just call him Long Pips John (relating to the infernal racket he wields with the long pimpled rubber). He moves me right and left, left and right – I feel like a marionette. He’s got a good drop shot which he employs sadistically, and he cleverly smashes the ball directly into my body before my prehistoric reflexes can get a racket on it. I’m practically powerless to do anything. He runs the show when I play him. He dictates the style of play. In other words … Lord help me – HE OWNS ME!

I just can’t play against him. Just a bad matchup. Look, sometimes I can tolerate a loss, but being destroyed is another matter. There’s the embarrassment and the humiliation. And when I get creamed, it’s hard for me to face my cocker spaniel (he thinks I’m a great player). These are the times that truly try men’s souls. (Apologies to Thomas Paine for this tacky usage.) But, I guess we all have to face the reality that at some time in our future (eventually) everyone will have to deal with a scenario such as this, when you finally just throw up your hands (or just throw up). Somewhere out there, there’s always a gunslinger with a faster draw – and he may be coming to a table (ping pong) near you. Okay, so how do you deal with this? (That happens to be the subject for this blog.)

First let me say this (pretending to be a wise old man): There is no shame in losing to a guy who is better than you. Of course, if the guy is smarter and stronger than you are, then if you’re like me, you’ll want to bop him on the head once or twice … and position a lot of banana peels on his side of the table. Notwithstanding those feelings, however, if a guy like Long Pips John possesses superior ping pong skills, accept that fact and try, at least, to maintain your dignity and preserve whatever self-respect you can muster. Don’t gripe or whine about it. The guy’s better than you, shake his hand and shut up.

BUT! Yes, there’s a but. (There’s always a ‘but.’) However troubling it is to say this, I have to divulge the following: I may be old, but I’m not fully mellowed (mature) at this point. I don’t like losing – especially to Long Pips John (a lawyer, no less). For me, it’s agonizing and painful. I can’t sleep at night after an encounter with this guy. I’m having nightmares. I’ve developed atrial fibrillation. I find myself losing my temper. (Even my bowels have become more irritable.) I just simply can’t deal with it. As Howard Beale put it (Network): “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore.” And, besides all that, it’s ruining my rating!

So, having thought about this for a long time (a minute and 30 seconds), at long last I came up with some ideas to deal with this vexing state of affairs. Here’s some sage advice about what you can do to prevent being slaughtered. This is how you cut off Long Pips John at the pass (that’s a western expression I got from Hopalong Cassidy). Pick any one of the following (or pick two):

1- Pray. If you’re not religious, have someone pray for you. If you can’t do either of these, move on to number 2.
2- Hire a hit man. If you find this too extreme, or if it’s morally offensive to you for some reason or other, proceed to number 3.
3- Destroy your opponent’s (the bad guy) racket by accidentally pouring a gallon of Gatorade over it when exchanging sides of the table. (He’ll probably default and, as far as I’m concerned, that’s a “W” in my column.)
4- Use the aforementioned banana peels. Just spread them strategically so that your tormentor slides and skids. He should not be able to stand erect for more than a second or two if you use the right amount of peels. (An alternative is to use roller bearings if the price of bananas is too prohibitive.)

Well, I guess that’s it. But just this one philosophical thought about getting trounced. Maybe there’s some divine retribution at work here. Maybe we’re made miserable for a purpose – to bring us back to the real world, free from ego distortion. Maybe we’re not as good as we think we are. And maybe beating Long Pips John is really not that important after all. I mean there are hungry people out there. Lao Du