A lot of people I know think that I’m a Debbie Downer. It’s because of my flat affect – I look morose most of the time. When I play ping pong with that dour, cheerless look, it’s infectious and the guy I’m playing with for 20 minutes usually ends up either wanting to quit table tennis altogether or just slitting his wrists. But let me tell you something, that ill-natured visage belies what I’m really like. I happen to bring joy to the world. It’s true, and I’m going to share with you my little secret for inducing such happiness and mirth in others. Maybe even jubilation. It would be practically a crime against humanity not to disclose this wizardry of mine, so I’m passing along this confidential, hush-hush stuff in order for you to use it, too. (Editor: What munificence!)
I’m almost ashamed to reveal this, because it’s really quite simplistic. Regardless, it’s still elegant, maybe because it is, in fact, so elementary. Okay, okay, so I know your clamoring to know how you can put a smile on just about any puss in the universe. Here’s how I do it. I place a scale that I’ve tweaked a little (= true weight minus 5 pounds) into the bathroom used by my guests. That’s it! I have never seen anyone emerge from that defecation chamber without at least a broad smile and, more often, a bouncy contentment accompanied by whistling. C’mon, these people are glowing … and it’s not because they just took a satisfying you know what.
Editor: Is that it? Don’t you have some more wisdom up your sleeve that you’d care to provide to the rest of us disadvantaged and unenlightened table tennis folk?
Lao Du: Well, okay, sure. I’ve got a lot of stuff. I aint just a one-trick pony, ya know.
Editor: Nah, of course not. Well, then, go ahead, but make sure it’s clean.
Lao Du: All right, but I’m not submitting it to the ITTF for their approval. They’ve got this this hateful stance against sandpaper.
Thomas Hobbes, the famous philosopher (not a WTTC club member, by the way), believed in a dog-eat-dog world. He thought that man is a selfish SOB and that his natural instincts would lead to an inclination to destroy the next guy if left to his own unrestricted devices. Well, let’s extrapolate on that theme as it relates to the current status of ping pong. It is the abominable sponge paddle which embodies elements of that same philosophy. It is precisely that diabolical instrument which underlines the current appalling situation concerning our sport. Sponge paddles are inherently uncivilized and lead to uncivilized, brutish, competition.
Now, I believe in dual usage. For example, everyone knows that my 220 grit sandpaper racket can be used for refinishing furniture as well as for trimming and manicuring fingernails. (If your opponent takes a lot of time between points, you might as well do your cuticles.) Squishee ping pong rackets can also be used, at long last, for something useful. Here’s how: Apply a little spermicide to the sponge layer and they can be effective contraceptives. (Caution: Remove the handle before use.)
Editor: Is that it?
Lao Du: Yeah.
Editor: The Chinese say that at a certain month of the year, the gates of the underworld are open. I hope it’s this month and that they let you in.
Lao Du: That’s not nice.
Editor: Grow up, it’s a Hobbesian World – you said it yourself. And one more thing: When it’s cold outside, throw your sandpaper racket into the fireplace – it’ll help keep you warm.
Lao Du: Jeeze, you don’t have to get so upset. I thought this stuff would help people. Maybe. Maybe not.