Now that the Club has closed down for the  Corona virus,  I feel a great wave of relief.  It’s not just that I don’t have to ask the guy across the table if he’s been to Wuhan or Milan … or New Rochelle, and not because I no longer have to worry about whether the guy has a fever, a cough or a runny  nose – no, it has nothing to do with a contaminated opponent.   No, my relief stems from the fact that I’m not losing anymore!  That’s right.  And without those growing, humiliating debacles I have been recently experiencing at the hands of people I used to beat, I’m sleeping a lot better.  Catching good Z’s, as the sleep experts would say (not).

Jeez, I’m really feeling a lot better since the club locked the doors.  But, when it opens again, I’m prepared … with some improved excuses.  Maybe some other players can use them, too – I don’t want to be accused of being selfish about such things.  So here are a couple.

Try this.  Set up a defibrillator next to the table.  Perfect excuse!  The opponent thinks you’re on your last legs before you even begin the warm-up.  If he’s a considerate and compassionate human being, he’ll inquire as to your health.  You tell him up front, that you have had an MI, that you have coronary heart disease, an arrhythmia ….   eh, make it two arrhythmias, and let him know that you have mitral valve regurgitation and that you’re pacemaker is running on low battery.  Show the guy how to use the defib machine by taking your shirt off and telling him where to place the electrode pads just in case you have an event.  By this time, he should be looking at you as if you’re delirious or just  plain whacko.  Either way, he will understand if you don’t win.  You don’t have to provide any additional excuses.  Perfect face-saving!  You’re dignity preserved.

Here’s another one.  Maybe a little lame, but if you look serious, it can work.   After you suffer an ignominious defeat, you tell the opponent that the sun was in your eyes.  It’ll cause an immediate bewilderment reaction, and if he insists it’s not possible or even rational, then you tell ‘em that maybe someone, possibly one of his  pals, was shining a flashlight in your eyes – maybe a laser, which is dangerous and that you resent it.  Leave the table as if you’re going to report him to the Pleasantville police.

Numbah Three:  Try this one that I’ve used.   I told my opponent that I had to ask my physician to give me something good – ya know, to stay awake.  So he gave me the stuff that put Michael Jackson asleep …  for good.  You tell the opponent that you couldn’t play being drugged up like that.  Only thing, though, that propofol has this tendency to shorten your short game.  They may even cart you away before the match ends.   But as you await your medevac, you can curse out loud and blame the doctor for your losing the match.  Nobody gonna quibble over an ambulance showing up. You’ve preserved your self-respect.

Numbah Four Excuse:  I’ve used this one successfully, too.  I explained that I had just undergone a colonoscopy a few hours earlier, and that the gastroenterologist told me he’d just seen a spherical object, probably a Xushaofa ping pong ball, in my distal colon.  The skeptical and doubting opponent asked me sarcastically if it was an old 38 mm or one of those new 40 + made of poly plastic.  Without flinching, I replied that the doctor said he wasn’t sure about that, but that he’d seen only 2 stars next to the logo and wanted to know why I was swallowing two star balls?  I told him it was only for practice, that I swallowed the three star regulation balls for a real tournament against credible players.  Yeah, my GI doctor understands the whole thing.   He says that if my opponent wins, at least I have balls. I take that as a compliment, but it’s also a good excuse if you can’t beat the dude standing across the table.

Numbah five:  You can always say you had too much gluten for lunch.  Nowadays, everyone blames gluten for everything!

Last Excuse: This one’s a doozy, even if I say so myself.  You say that you just couldn’t take the pressure.  For example, this actually happened to me.  I had just gone to the Dairy Queen for a chocolate shake and discovered, while hitting my forehand smash, that I was lactose intolerant.   Now nobody – I mean NOBODY – can expect to hit the ball over the net if you got the Dairy Queen Two-Step.   Diarrhea: It’s particularly hard to concentrate under those conditions.  Yeah, just say the magic word:  DIARRHEA!  No one argues with the sacrosanct diarrhea.   And it’s medical.   Not even a wily SOB using long pips would have much of a chance against a good irritable bowel.

So, anyway, those are some excuses one should attempt to use in order to stave off the agony and wretchedness of being humbled when you lose badly.  I really sought more positive approaches, to actually avoid losing in the first place, but no amount of kale and blueberries and broccoli seemed to make me a better player.  Seaweed and probiotics didn’t help either, my rating stayed below 1800.  So, then I decided to go back to Diet Coke and Cape Cod potato chips.  And guess what?  I was unbeatable.  I was mowing down the bums that had started to beat me.  I resumed my visits to Taco Bell and the International House of Pancakes – got me a foot high stack with plenty of that Aunt Jamima syrup.  Turns out, my fiberless, high fructose diet hit the spot.  Par excellence.  My forehand topspin smash returned to it’s former level of magnificence, and I was no longer calling everyone on the Saw Mill River Parkway a dumb bastard.  Even my cognitive function  improved.  My GP tested me for memory.   I told him that I remembered when I had a table tennis rating of 1800.  The doctor told me that if I could remember stuff so far back, that I had a great memory.    Lao Du