I was driving back
from a bad match at the club. I'd been ahead 5-1 in the first set when
it all fell apart, and my opponent, Eric, who's actually a guy I play
with a couple times a week and who's one of my best friends when he's
not beating me, came alive. I say "came alive" because we're
usually pretty close, and my leading by that much meant either I was
playing hot, or he wasn't. In this case, he wasn't. But there are few
things I know that are more dynamic than a tennis match, and suddenly
the wind, or the stars, possibly the force that maintains the Universe
came to his side. And it never left. Somewhere along the line, in the
next 6 games, I must have gotten a point, but I don't remember it. What
I do remember was general panic at the feeling I was under assault,
trying to hang on to the lead I'd thought was mine. Every player, every
time-to-time, has these moments, just as every opponent to every
player hates them for it.
Whether by Zen,
Karma, blind luck, or because he secretly hated me, his game just got
better, and less than an hour later I was shaking his hand and congratulating
him. I didn't like congratulating my opponent, but they say that grace
in the face of defeat is a virtue, and I needed all the virtue I could
get. "They" probably didn't have to suffer through Eric's
subsequent thumbs up to everyone we passed on the way back to the clubhouse,
and I'm sure I got extra virtue-points for not clubbing him when I overheard
"Kicked ass!" when a young blonde he'd been after asked how
he'd done. She wriggled and smiled and congratulated him, and he said
they should get together to hit sometime before she skipped off. Eric,
who's quite a few years younger than me, turned back, entranced. "I
think she's coming around," he said grinning even more. "Yeah,"
I said. I was feeling defeated and Eric's Good Day was becoming tiresome.
Actually, it had gotten tiresome when he hit his zillionth down-the-line
winner in the first set. "Well, you think I should ask her out,
maybe to the fair next week?." "You mean the River Festival?"
I said. He'd moved here from some mid-western city just over a year
ago and considered every event in Boise to be "The fair."
City picnics, Alive-after-Five, and the River Festival were all the
same to him, and I sometimes wondered just how small a town he'd come
from. Chinden boulevard, where it turns into a 2-lane highway on the
west side, has a 55 mph speed limit, and he always referred to it as
"the freeway." One of these days I'd have to ask him about
his hometown. "Yeah, the River Festival. You think I should ask
her to that?" Eric had been asking her out, mostly to play tennis,
for about 6 months, and never gotten past her saying, "Okay, but
I can't next week, I'll call you," which she never followed up.
He was looking at me now and I could see there was a little of the edge
taken off of his good mood, because he'd forgotten about the match and
was remembering his less than stellar success asking out little Jeanie,
or whatever her name was. I was starting to like Jeanie better because
of it. I looked at him and said, "Sure Eric, ask her out. . . again,"
and I gave him my knowing smirk and looked down at the steps leading
to the clubhouse. "Cute, Dave," he said and clapped me on
the back. "Yeah, I'll give it one more shot," and he laughed
as we came up the stairs into the clubhouse, adding "What with
the winning streak I'm on today, I should ask her right now," and
smiled to himself. I held open the door and told him he could buy me
two beers for that crack, and we walked inside together, smiling.
Eric was good for
the two beers, and an hour later I was on my way home. I'd gotten to
bed late, and the combination of the lack of sleep, the typical Boise
August 95 degree temperature, and, of course, the beer, was making me
consider postponing the 1001 things I had to do around the house to
take a nap instead. I drove down Orchard to the connector, down that
to Main, and up to Highland View. On the way I came down Harrison Boulevard,
part of Boise's historic district, and tried to notice the houses I
hadn't noticed before. I'd been down this street a thousand times, but
I was always surprised when I noticed a house I'd overlooked before.
There are maybe 35 houses on the street, and of those perhaps 10 are
Old-World elegant, the type with solid rock walls that would do a castle
proud. With ornate front yards and beautiful terraced gardens just right
for watching from the enclosed porch. I had no idea what they looked
like inside, but everything about the outside suggested space and dignity.
Those 10 or so houses I knew, it was the other, "lesser" houses
that I kept finding, and today I saw one that wasn't really a house,
it seemed to be an apartment building. U-shaped with maybe four apartments.
It fit well within the landscape and you knew it'd been built back when
the land could be adapted to the building, rather than the other way
around. I liked the houses on Harrison, although I wouldn't like to
live there myself because of the traffic. I liked quiet, and quiet was
the overriding reason why I lived near the end of a foothills street.
I turned right
at Hill and drove to Highland, going up into the hills the mile-and-a-half
to my house. Pulling into the drive I saw TC, my cat, in the garden
on the far side of the house, looking for someone to come home and play
with, and he jumped over a bush and hid under it to watch my car pull
in. I'd planned on cutting my lawn but now, with visions of a nice,
quiet, Saturday afternoon nap dancing in my head, I decided my grass
looked fine. Better than fine, in fact, and I realized that cutting
it in this heat would do it irreparable harm. Better to let it grow
for another couple of days, so it could get fuller and greener. I pulled
into the garage, got out, and decided I had the energy to turn the sprinklers
on -- to help the lawn yet more -- and was going to call to TC but he
was already rubbing against my legs and meowing. I always wanted to
know what a cat was saying, or thought they were saying when
they meowed, but there really wasn't anyone to talk to about that, so
I'd taken to talking to TC. The nice thing about talking to a cat is
that, no matter what they say, you can decide for yourself what they
meant. I went into the house, TC following, and walked. . .
here is that it's pointless to write a "novel" when you have
no plan, plot, or even outline. It's always nice to know where you might
be going. Maybe some day. . .