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Slices of Life

Never have I ever

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I started this column thinking I might write about some of the things I’ve never yet done, like take an Alaskan cruise, drink ouzo in Greece, taste French bread in France or parent a dachshund. 

But I missed out on the most important never ever of all:

Never, have I ever… played pickleball.

There it is. I said it out loud. Please don’t unfriend me on Facebook. I’m truly still cool. Or I’m trying to be, despite the vast pickleball oversight.

I’ve made pickles - from scratch.

I’ve played ball - as in tennis, croquet, ping pong and even - most lately - wallyball.

But combining pickles and balls? 

Never have I ever.

Turns out I’m in the minority. 

Everyone is playing pickleball. Some reports report it as the fastest growing sport in the nation. And not just among those as wrinkled as pickles. 

You might be surprised to learn that the start of pickleball had nothing to do with gardening, cucumbers or vinegar. The game’s humble beginnings began in someone’s backyard and was soon picked up by seniors as a way to play tennis without running or jumping or having to move around too much.

It was ingenious.

So much so that it caught on with younger demographics who likely thought it wasn’t fair for all the baby boomers to monopolize the pickle action.

But what is this entity entitled pickleball? Does it involve eating pickles? Swatting them with a paddle? Using them as a paddle? Is an extra large pickle carved into a ball formation? How does a pickle become a ball?

The simple answer: it doesn’t.

Pickleball actually has nothing whatever to do with pickles. But I’m no expert. I’ve yet to play even one game or match or set or whatever the pickleball lingo requires.

Although I’ve been invited - often. 

People who play pickleball (known by the in-crowd as “pickleballers”) are so overjoyed and enamored with the sport they can’t wait to share it with others and get them hooked as well. It’s almost like a new experimental drug, which would explain why the baby boomers, formally known as hippies, like it so much. (Just kidding, boomers! Learn to take a joke already!)

Never mind about that; I wasn’t insinuating anything about the Woodstock era and experimental drugs. Just a friendly nod to adrenaline and the feel-good feelings sports-like activities release into the system. 

Let’s say definitively drugs have no part in pickleball – unless they are of the prescription variety.

Suffice to say the Woodstock generation has matured since their experimental days. They’ve since graduated to pickleball and they are bringing us all along for the ride. 

They want us all to serve and volley - but most of all to stay out of the kitchen. In pickleball, the kitchen is off limits, which might explain why no teenage boys are drawn to the sport.

I’d like to try it. I think I possess the eye-hand coordination to hit the ball and the stamina to make it through an extra-long volley, but from what I understand the hardest thing about pickleball is scoring. When you play doubles, each point is called out in three numbers. I don’t know about you but this sounds like a game created by an accountant. Numbers have never been my forte.

I’m all for exercise and recreation but the thinking part has me stymied, which just may be the reason why I haven’t tried to pickle with balls just yet. I’ve been invited by well-meaning friends many times, but I’ve yet to make it into the court, much less the kitchen. I did purchase a set of paddles awhile back, in anticipation, but don’t tell my friends. I’m not sure I’m ready for the fierce competition.

Not to mention the rigors of scoring.

Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright and author. Don’t miss a slice; follow the Slices of Life page on Facebook.

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