Holy Humiliating: The Day I Took My Husband to My Tennis Lesson (Part Two)

{Art from ScrapHacker.com}

My next tennis lesson, since The Incident, is tomorrow. I am nervous to see my coach. Why? Because last time I saw him I was fighting back tears, barely able to move on the court, purposely laming out on balls. Like, just standing there and barely reaching out with my racket in a typically useless attempt to….what? passive-agressively express something? Like anger….? Or….maybe to make everyone as miserable as I was? Or…maybe because, in light of what I really wanted to do (throw my racket? tell everyone to F off?), and the frozen angst racing through my veins, it was the best I could do? I don’t know exactly, but I do know that the human mind and its ability to bullshit itself is a TRIP!

So here’s what happened. It was the day after Thanksgiving. K, my “step-mother,” the woman who married my dad when I was 15 or so, and who I connect to waaaay more than I ever did my (deceased) dad, was visiting and she was getting a massage at the Emerson. T took Azalea to her piano lesson and was supposed to pick us up and we were all going to drive to tennis, where K would watch A. Now, my understanding was that my coach was just going to hook T up with someone to “hit with” while we did our lesson. Simple enough. I was nervous, as I described in my previous post, but figured it would be ok, and I would work through it.

First of all, T was late in picking us up. We won’t go there.

When we arrived (late), to the indoor courts, there was a group of coaches, all of whom I know and have had lessons with, milling around. My coach said (after, “you’re late”), “we have a special treat cooked up for you.”

Ok. It wasn’t a group. It was 2 + my coach, which = 3. Felt like a gymnasium full of meangirls. Who taunted me by saying it was going to be a party.

(I know I am crazy. Just so you know I know.)

“Get over there,” my coach said, to the two of us. Me and T. On the same side of the court, like right next to each other. Perfectly aligned. For comparison.

The other two coaches started hitting balls to us cross court, meaning diagonally, so T and my balls had to cross in mid-air, my coach supervising the festivities. This cross court thing would be a cute trick for someone who wants to be close to her man’s balls (I know) in that moment. But dry-mouth, freeze-inducing for someone who desperately longs to regain her safe supportive tennis love space. Where did it go? Oh!? 

T hit his balls with precise, FAST, direct spin. Every SINGLE ONE! The racket thwocked deeply EVERY time. He was rallying with his coach while my balls lobbed up, skimmed the net, slugged along, missed my coach entirely, a new ball going in to play each time. No rallying.

Wow, AWESOME, they say to him.

What an athlete!

Good, Bethany. Nice shot! (liars)

Hey, don’t hurt us! (they joke because he is so strong and powerful.)

Bring your racket back, Bethany. Earlier!

Awesome, B! (coddlers)

Ok.  I need to be clear about something: I am not ego-maniacal enough to actually think I should be a better tennis player than Mr. Siwanoy (the country club he grew up attending with an Indian Chief as their logo, which is not to say I don’t love going there for dinner, drinks, pool, and I would even play tennis there! Though every time I go I feel distinctly fat, ethnic, and, as such, like “the help”….another story entirely…).

So it’s not that. I mean, I get it. T is a natural, very talented athlete, which I most of the time admire and think is super hot. And I am not. It’s ok! And furthermore,  under normal (totally controlled?) circumstances, I am happy-ish-enough with my tennis progress. And can certainly play better than I did during The Incident.

But being side by side like that. Oh man. It hurt. And it went on and on and on (and on). Switching us around, trying to get us to play doubles. As if.

I tried playfully glaring at my coach, threatening to never bring him donuts again. But it was too real (and way too much for a tennis lesson) to be funny.

At one point he came up to me and said, “Focus.” Right. “You need to learn to play when you’re uncomfortable.” Whatever. Dick.

Later, after I had completely given up, the back of my throat fuzzy with held back tears, all my get completely gone, I saw my coach look at another coach and shrug, annoyingly, like what the hell  is her problem?

If I only knew.

Finally, he separated us. Which could have been a good thing, except for the fact that he played one on one with T and I played with a different (lovely, sweet, etc etc,  but not mine) coach, listening to the oohs and aaahs and helpful advice about things like grip change. Please.

Oh, Dear, (generous) Reader, if you are still with me: Isn’t it all just so exhausting?

Is it break time?


I could, no doubt, go on. The Incident ended with my coach cold-shouldering me as I gave him his cash, not even looking at me. And I don’t blame him. He went to all that trouble. For me. And I acted like a big baby.

I recently came across this from a Buddhist scholar, Donald Lopez:

The Buddha presented a radical challenge to the way we see the world, both the world that was seen two millennia ago and the world that is seen today. What he taught is not different, it is not an alternative, it is the opposite. That the path that we think will lead us to happiness leads instead to sorrow. That what we believe is true is instead false. That what we imagine to be real is unreal. A certain value lies in remembering that challenge from time to time.

A certain, value, indeed.

What I believe leads to happiness leads to sorrow.

What I believe is true is false.

What I believe is real is unreal.

During The Incident, I kept having the thought, “Maybe this  is it. The end. I will never play tennis again.” Chasing after some fantasy that by calling “it” “tainted” “its” purity exists as well, as if “it” is anything at all other than a dream. “Something I love.” That’s what “it” is. Big whoop.

I am still reading Madame Bovary, delighting in her delusion. It’s comforting to read about someone else who can get so worked up about bullshit. Not that love or desire is bullshit, but when MY desire is so big  it blinds me to the world (my husband, my “stepmother,” my daughter, my coach, the world, my good fortune, my privilege…hello: tennis?), desire is no longer a divining rod of where to go next, a way of discerning what might be a good idea, or a pleasurable preference, but a desperate need to fill the world with me and my insistence. I wish we were talking about tennis here. There is tennis, but there is everything else, too, and my persistent pining for some reality just a hair different from this one. The myth that when we shed that last five pounds, we will be satisfied.

I am not beating myself up, by the way, for behaving like a fool. Though I am sorry (and nervous to face the music tomorrow!) and kicking myself for wasting time. And for thinking that my thoughts about it all (F him! F her! F this!) matter, or that there is a way out. Sure, I could have stomped off the court. I could quit online teaching. I could hand in my robe and my bowl. I could leave my husband. I could walk out on my kid. I often fantasize about slamming the door shut on everything that sucks. But if there was such a door big enough to do that, I should also be able to open it.