During my youth, we always had a Ping Pong table in our basement. While it was used most often as a collection device for discarded sweatshirts and old magazines, every now and then the top would be cleaned and an impromptu game would ensue.
I was the youngest of three boys so inevitably I was always the last one to be given a chance to play the weak link, as it were. Because of this age handicap, I was forced to watch most of the time, possibly squeezing into a game when someone left. While this was frustrating, it did allow me to study the techniques of others. When no one was around, I would fold the table in half and practice for hours.
The older I grew, the more competitive I became. I knew my skills were fairly advanced when I started to beat anyone who came to our house, including my brothers. Soon I realized that table tennis was a great way to prove my worth in the world. Any time I went to a party in junior high and high school, the first thing I did was look for a table. This was the best opportunity for me to look good in a social situation and I played it for all it was worth, wowing spectators while spinning and slamming shots at unsuspecting opponents.
Arriving at college, I noticed a weathered Ping Pong table in the basement of my dorm. I realized that this table was the key to my social life and a possible entry into the world of women who were rumored to mingle about the premises.
On one weekend night, I wandered into the basement lounge where a large group of people were drinking and socializing. No one was at the table so I sauntered up, paddle in my back pocket, and inquired whether anyone was interested in playing. Within seconds a spry, pimply-faced sophomore appeared at the other end of the table. His friends started laughing, betting each other that I wouldnt score more than three points, five if I was lucky. I chuckled to myself. If this guy was the best they had to offer, college was going to be very good to me. My focus intensified as I quickly realized that if I could embarrass their champion, I would gain immediate street cred. This was my time, my grand collegiate coming-out party.