Which Came First: The Pickle or the Ball?

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.

racket and ball

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.

Leslie serving

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.

pickle pen

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.


12 thoughts on “Which Came First: The Pickle or the Ball?

  1. Great blog, Jo! I’ve never heard of pickleball – it sounds like fun. My Dad had a cat named Pickles once. Well, he was actually the neighbor’s cat, but he loved my Dad and lived at Dad’s house. We thought the neighbors gave him Pickles, but they didn’t. It’s just that the cat knew a real cat lover when he met one.

    Have you had any snow yet? I read Oregon has had a bunch at the higher elevations.

    • Thanks Debbie! Awwww, I think I’d love a cat named Pickles too. Obviously, that particular Pickles had good taste in humans. As for snow, none where we are but like Oregon, the higher elevations in Washington did indeed get a good dusting. From what I’ve heard, we shouldn’t expect much snow here in Port Townsend, which is fine with us! We’ll be perfectly happy looking at the snowcapped mountains from a distance.

  2. Great to see you guys are being social, having fun and getting more exercise. Hee hee
    You should see the new road going in across the road from your old road. Crystal Falls West has started big time! You should be glad you got out when you did but still miss you.
    God bless, have a great day.

    • Yep, pickleball works up as much of a sweat as farming does, only minus the dirt. So fortunately, I don’t think we’ll atrophy up here. And yes, I’ve heard about the Crystal Falls development — and YES, I’m glad we’re not there to see it. Thanks Judy, we miss you too!

  3. Great article with great word pictures where the readers can. Imagine a bunch of “dinks” having fun with pickles. Right!?
    Enjoy. Page m.

  4. I have often thought that a DInk was something but now I see. So making a light hit could actually give you a score but a miss step and your in a pickle. Keep the pencil in its original packaging, it may be worth something in the coming years.

    So enjoy and watch your step, you young people are always getting into trouble, or ‘a pickle’, as my Mom would say.

    • Ha ha! You’ve got it down, David! Except I love the pickle pen far too much to keep it in its packaging. I’ve already sullied it by using it to address some envelopes. Oopsie. That’s the thing about us youngsters, you know — we can’t help but play with our toys.

  5. So enjoying your blog. This one really cracked me up. Does one jump over the net to shake hands at the end of a match?

    • Thank you Cathy! But alas, no one jumps over the net. We must all keep in mind the median age of the players (other than John and me, the whippersnappers, of course). Instead, at the end of each game you tap the end of the other players’ rackets with the end of yours. Half the time, I miss.

  6. Wow you are making it sound too exciting up there. Beware we Texans may move there!!! Have you started a garden yet? Our keyhole garden and in fact the whole garden was very upsetting for Michael this year. Still have lots of chard, parsley and a loaded Meyers lemon tree. Love hearing about your adventures, Teresa and Michael

    Sent from my iPad

    • It’s pretty marvelous up here Teresa — even if you’re not a pickleball fan (which is crazy talk!). We do indeed have many gardens going. You know John…if he weren’t growing food, he’d likely just sit in a corner and drool. I’ll post pictures of his gardening adventures soon. I suspect your gardens will perk up beautifully now that fall has finally arrived down there. Great to hear from you, and good luck!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s