Although conflicting schedules delayed John’s and my completion of the three 1-1/2 hourlong training sessions required to play on pickleball leagues at the neighborhood court, we’ve finally done it. (Well, I finally did it. John was allowed a “by” after only one session since he’s a working man now with fewer opportunities to partake.)
What on earth is pickleball, you ask? Yes, I would have too, prior to our moving to a community where the majority of our neighbors look at us as the youngsters. Okay, “youngsters” is a little strong…but when on the court, there have indeed been references to our relative youth.
Which is a grand and wonderful thing, by the way.
But back to pickleball. It’s a game started in the ‘60s on Bainbridge Island here in Washington, named after the originator’s dog, Pickles. Seriously. Apparently, Pickles had an affinity for whiffle balls, and whiffles are the balls of choice for this game. Whiffle balls and pingpong-like paddles.
Pickleball is played on a court smaller than that used for tennis, with a net similar to a tennis net only lower. The object of the game is to whack the whiffle ball back and forth — and oh my, the racket does make a satisfying Twhack! sound when it meets with the plastic ball — until the opposing team either misses it or hits it out of bounds. If your team was serving, you get a point; if the other team was serving, that person loses his or her serve.
It’s fairly basic. I’m not completely clear why three lessons are mandatory but John and I aren’t usually ones to rabble-rouse, thus our participation — albeit abbreviated in John’s case — in the formal classes. We’re new here, after all. We don’t want to make waves. (And risk our status as young’uns? Not a chance.)
Each game is played to 11 and must be won by at least two points. It’s pretty much no holds barred as far as rules during play, with one important exception: you may not hit the ball before it bounces when any part of your body is in the kitchen.
That is not a typo. The “kitchen” is the lined-off area directly on either side of the net.
No one knows why it’s called the kitchen. It just is. And it’s where you try to dink the ball. To “dink” is to tap the whiffle ball lightly enough so as it falls barely over the net. Because the opposing team can’t rush into the kitchen to smack it and rather have to wait for it to bounce first, it’s often an effective shot.
The woman who teaches us Cape Georgers how to pickeball has two cats, one named Lob and one named Dink (yet no pets named Serve or Volley, as far as I know), which leads me to two fascinating somewhat coincidental tidbits.
Fascinating somewhat coincidental tidbit #1: When John and I played racquetball many years ago, one of the women I played regularly had a son whom she referred to as Dink. There are no shots called dinks in racquetball so I know that’s not where his nickname came from. I never learned the origination but always thought it was kind of cruel, particularly since the kid was a little dorky and actually looked like someone you’d call Dink.
Fascinating somewhat coincidental tidbit #2: Prior to our racquetball days, John and I used to watch a game show called Tic Tac Dough (because there’s nothing at all dorky about that). The host of the show was the legendary Wink Martindale, who we — hilariously — renamed Dink Fartindale.
We’ve always prided ourselves on our maturity.
And now we have something else to be proud of. Or I should say, I have something. After the successful completion of three pickleball lessons, the teacher awarded my fellow classmates (all two of them) and me a graduation gift.
A pen shaped like a pickle. I love it. Does that make me a complete dork? Quite possibly, yes, but I can live with that.
Just call me Dink.