The problem was the pig; it wasn’t done until I had already had about seven beers.
That’s why I lost the big pingpong tournament last weekend. I was drinking on an empty stomach, which negatively affected the quality of my backhand.
The truth is, I never stood a chance. Since the inaugural Spring Ping in 2011, the level of competition has improved to the point where the most I can hope for in the first place is a belly full of pig and beer. Any hopes of finishing in the money are mere wishful thinking.
Spring Ping, for the uninitiated, is the annual double-elimination tournament my friends Robert and Wendy host on their backyard pingpong table. It’s half sporting event and half beer-and-food bacchanal. I took third the inaugural year, when there were only 14 players and most of them were terrible. I was out in the first round last year, when the mustache I had grown special for the event failed to adequately distract my opponents. And I didn’t make it much further this year — despite a switch in polo shirt color from the traditional white to the more-intimidating black.
But whatever. Robert is a serious player, and there’s a small-but-growing group of other serious players. But for most of us, the competition has become secondary to the celebration. It’s an all-you-can-drink and all-you-can-eat debauch that lasts from early afternoon well into the night — which I think is why nobody begrudges Robert his success; he has to make back the money he spends on food somehow. This year’s first-place pot was just north of $300. But this year, Robert roasted a whole pig, so he needed that money just to offset his costs. For me, the day was mostly about hanging out with good friends, introducing them to my visiting parents and stuffing myself.
The folks had a blast, by the way. They drew each other in the first round, and my dad beat my mom in an epic three-game set. About 30 spectators cheered every shot, while my friends Mike and Simon did commentary and my crazy train-hopping buddy Matt scaled the backyard shed. It was that kind of scene.
I couldn’t imagine a better event to introduce my parents — or any visitors — to my motley gang of ne’er-do-well buddies. The air was thick with laughter and pig smoke, the beer flowed like wine and the general atmosphere could best be described as “lightly tipsy bonhomie.”
And, yeah, sure, fine, maybe I could have played a little better if I had cut back on the beer — at least until the pig was done. But I wasn’t going to win anyway. And I probably wouldn’t have had as much fun.
— The Indoorsman