Editor:  Lao Du, how are you feeling?

LD:  Well, except  for the cough, the fever and the shortness of breath, I’m fine.

Editor:  That’s not funny.

LD:  Ok, ok, no shortness of breath.

Editor: Still not funny.

LD:  Ok, okay, I would feel much better if I could notch some ping pong victories.  I’ve been losing too much.  My diary is demanding wins – glorious victories.

Ed:  Doesn’t sound important.

LD:  Well, it is.  Just listen. I played this prepubescent kid the other day.  I don’t think this rugrat was  taller than a 2 liter Coke bottle.  The thing is, I really never saw him too often during the match, just these balls popping up where he presumably was hitting them.  For all I know, one of his brothers or sisters – there were lots of them – could have been lobbing the balls back across the table in my direction from under the table.  And, then, if he won a point, he would look directly at his cheerleading parents and he’d scream something he’d learned from watching the unsportsmanlike and egregious behavior of the Chinese players doing their cho’ing and fist pumping.  C’mon!!!  A three year old kid all juiced up like that?  Dissgussting!   I wanted to kill that punk … and his freaking, nurturing (not) ma and pa.  They weren’t just supplying encouragement and support for their fiendish, ping pong savant, they were abetting this munchkin’s boorishness.  You can only imagine what kind of brat and clan I was up against.

Ed:  Get to the bottom line, did you win or lose?

LD:  Well, I eh…

Ed:  Yeah?

LD:  All right, all right.  So the tot won, big deal.  But I was wearing a mask and he wasn’t.  I couldn’t breathe.

Ed:  You lost to a peewee who’s not even weaned?

LD:  Well, yeah, but this kid was being coached illegally.  And not just that, I mean I was really playing against Yasaka Rakza.

Ed:   What? Who is that? Whadda ya mean?  Was this kid Japanese?

LD:  No, no, no.  The kid was Chinese … of course, but he was using this advanced, high tech rubber.   Yasaka Rakza.  The spin and the speed … it’s just cheating.

Ed:  Wait, wait.  So it wasn’t only the parents and the kid, it was Yasaka Rakza?  They were all against you?

LD:  You bet!  I mean it just wasn’t fair.  I could hear them all talking, huddling in their group when that little cherub asked for one of his multitudinous time-outs – all illegal, of course.  You know what they said? I could hear them making fun of me.  They said I was a stupid player.  The nerve! They were telling their moppet that I had all of my faculties except the mental ones.  The kid’s old man said it – probably to psych me out.  And then, the mother points to me and tells her darling that this guy – meaning me – was ready for assisted living, and that this baby twit of her’s should put me to sleep quickly and get him – meaning me again – out of his – meaning my – misery.   Now, listen, I could have played their game. I could have called time out to have my pacemaker adjusted, or I could have screwed with the defibrillator I keep close by  next to the curtains.  But did I do that?  No!  I didn’t.  Because unlike some people at the club, I have ethics – moral values, okay?, and I just wasn’t going to be reduced to that midget’s level.  Period.

Editor:  So, you’re saying that the defibrillator and the pacemaker are not distractions?

LD:  Certainly not.

Editor: What about the oxygen tank you bring with you all the time.  Isn’t that to rattle or fluster your opponent psychologically.

LD:  No.  That’s absolutely false.  I just keep track of my oxygen saturation with my little pulse oximeter  ($19.99 at Walmart), that’s all.  You never know when you’re gonna need some supplemental oxygen.

Ed:  Yes, when you’re losing, for example.  And didn’t you call up the Pleasantville ambulance Corps right in front of everybody before you started the match like you do all the time?

LD:   What’s wrong with that?  It’s prudent.  One should not take any chances.  I just asked them to be ready; never asked them to come to the club – I wouldn’t want to endanger anyone else’s response time.  But, c’mon, focus on the kid.  He was purposely slowing down the game.  You know, he was taking 2 minute breaks between points.  If a guy is wiping his brow or tying his shoelaces over and over again, then you’re playing with an unethical guy.  This kid was doing that, doing what his parents were signaling him to do.  It was gamesmanship.  And, he would pretend to be hurt after losing a point to get a medical time-out!  How could I concentrate on my pacemaker and defibrillator when he’s flopping around having convulsions?  Thankfully, his epileptic seizures ended and he was able to resume play.

Ed:  And he beat you, didn’t he?

LD:  Look, he was just pretending to be hurt after losing a point.   But how could I concentrate on my pacemaker, while he was feigning death?

 You know what? This kid will most likely be burned out by age7, if not earlier, probably because these tyrannical parents of his are putting him in a pressure cooker.  It’s really a form of abuse.

    Sometimes the parents would scream at the kid if he made a booboo by slamming one into the net.  I wanted to help that kid.  I wanted to get the cops, get the child protective services.   Something.  Call a judge.  I thought it was my duty to at least get a restraining order.  Anything!  But just remove that kid from those pushy, unfit parents before he grows into a larger monster.

Ed:   You mean before he beats you again!

LD:  Oh, please! All of that hand signaling and the cough messages from the parents to get his attention? Is it any wonder why I served so many into the net or off the table. Free points.  I gave that brat free points.  Well, anyway, when I wrote it up in my diary, I gave myself a win because of all the illegal and unethical stuff I was up against.

Ed:  So, aside from  your cover-up, what’s the take home from all of this?  What lessons should we derive from this match of yours?

LD:  Well, I’ll tell you this:  I aint gonna be playing with any more 3 year old cheaters, that’s for sure.

Ed:  That’s it?

LD:  Well, there is one more thing.  My double faults – the wasted points on serves.  I did learn something about that which could help other ping pong aficionados.

Ed:  Pray tell.  We need something constructive.  Now, try to make it rationale.  No flapdoodle.  No screwy hooey.

LD:   Okay, then how ‘bout this: If you wanna be a top flight ping pong player you have to practice, do exercises and eat well.  Before the invention of kale and baby arrugala, I seemed to be healthy enough with the iceberg lettuce.  But, nowadays, you gotta go to those whole food stores to get the organic stuff without the pesticides.  Otherwise, you serve into the net.