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I guess no one likes a know-it-all. I was swimming at the next door RV resort in Mesa when a woman heard me talking about pickleball.
“It was named after a dog,” she broke in.
“Actually,” I retorted with the authority of one who’d just looked it up on Wikipedia, “that’s an urban myth. The dog was actually named after the sport.”
I received the vicious glare that greets some unwelcomed facts – like, yes, Obama was born in Hawaii, and no, Mexico is not going to pay for the wall (we won’t even get into global warming).
Pickleball. No, its not slang for some painful male medical condition. Unless you are forced to listen to what your grandparents did over the winter or actually live in a 55-plus community, you’ve probably never heard of the sport that when seen from afar, sounds and looks like 8-inch tall people scampering about on a ping-pong table.
It sounds like table tennis because it’s played with a Wiffle-like ball and ping-pong paddles on steroids.
It was actually invented in the mid-1960s when U.S. Rep. Joel Pritchard of Washington and buddies returned from golf to find bored family members. They decided to play badminton but couldn’t find a shuttlecock. Cranky kids are the mother of invention, and the adults improvised by finding a Wiffleball, lowering the badminton net and making paddles out of pieces of plywood. The game is a composite of badminton, tennis and table tennis.
As for naming the game after the family dog, it’s actually the opposite. Christened by Pritchard’s wife, the game gets its name from the term “pickle boat,” the last boat to return with a catch.
“I said it reminds me of the pickle boat in crew where its oarsmen were chosen from leftovers of other boats,” she is quoted in Wikipedia.
From its humble beginnings as a children’s game, it now has a governing body, the International Federation of Pickleball, which is striving to enter the sport in the Olympics. For those who scoff at the notion, just remember that’s what they once did with skateboarding and bridge. And from that simple makeshift equipment, a deluxe champion pickleball set can cost up to $350.
And there are a number of other 55-plus activities at these RV resorts I have never heard of. I was taking a walk when I observed what looked like guys rolling around lawnmower wheels. Called rolle bolle, I was told by participants that it is like playing horseshoes on wheels – a novel concept I was not going to remark upon while so outnumbered.
I keep getting asked to become involved in a number of athletic activities available at my resort, but I beg off by acknowledging having little eye-to-hand coordination. And after 49 years in journalism, I’m ready to relax – work is the curse of the drinking class.
One person reminded me that idle hands are the devil’s workshop. Yikes, heaven forbid Satan get a foothold in senior RV resorts. At least there won’t be any Rosemary’s baby with this age group.
The idleness remark made me feel guilty as I debated whether to wait another day before moving the clothes from the washer to the dryer. After all, 1 Timothy, 5:13 reads, “They get into the habit of being idle, going from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also gossip and busybodies, saying things they ought not to.”
Yikes – so much for the evening wine gatherings.
The apostle Paul said, “We were not idle when we were with you. On the contrary, we worked night and day laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you.” Darn, I thought that’s what Social Security was for.
Moved by self-reproach at my idleness, I again contemplated moving my wet laundry, but that meant I’d have to first empty the dryer. Instead, I decided to write this column.
Dan Ehl is the retired news editor of The News. He lives in Arizona.