The Floor Hurts

Playground

I remember as a little kid, the neighbourhood playground that I used to tumble around in when pre-school was over. They were spankingly awesome.Of course more awesome than that were the cute girls that sat along the swings and bouncy animal rides. They watched as the braver boys try their hand at all the cool poles and high climbs.

And I just had to be one of those. The only problem was that my genes came with a mild defect: I was pretty darn clumsy.

Yet, it didn’t stop me from giving it my best shot. I flaunted my bravery at all the various playground attractions that demanded a fair bit of courage and skill, and soon enough, I was at the most dangerous one of them all. You had to stretch pretty hard to get to the other side. The platform was easily thrice my height then, and a fall looked rather scary.

So I steeled myself, and reached out for the ledge. But just as I almost got to the safe point, my hand slipped, and I found my entire 5-year-old body go tumbling down in mid-air. The fall slowed down time, and I could see some parents in the distance pointing at me, as well as here a couple of screams from the girls, whom I assumed were watching me (yes, even then I was a sucker for female attention). Finally, I went plop on the floor, and it hurt like hell.

Being the manly little boy I was, I tried not to cry, but tears were forced out of my eyes because of the pain. I got up, and grimaced, then straightened my pre-school uniform. Yes, I must not look weak in front of the girls! thought my 5-year-old self. Before my mother could stop me and ask if I was OK (she was chatting with my friend’s mum, who happened to see me fall), I went up the same climb, and did the obstacle again.

This time, I passed. And I was so gosh darn happy. I swear the all girls were cheering too, but then again I was too shy to take a look. My mum came over and brushed me down, and asked if I really fell because I looked so fine. She then spotted the bruise on my cheek, and like any other over-reacting mum, decided that I was done for the day and brought me home.

I didn’t mind though, it was enough glory for the day. But let me tell you this from experience: the floor really hurts.

What My Father Taught Me

Ping Pong Wall

When I was a kid, my life was pretty much like any other young runt. I ate, shat and slept. Occasionally, I would have aspirations and dreams, and these were big things, like beating my father at ping pong.

So one day, my father took me up against a wall and said, “If you really want to be good at ping pong son, first you’ve got to start against the wall.” He gave me a paddle, and a ball, and told me to stand right in front of a wall and keep hitting the ping pong against it.

I’m not going to lie to you. It sucked real bad.

The first time I tried, I could barely keep it going more than twice. Most of the workout involved me running around the house and bending down to pick up the ball. I was on the verge of giving up when my dad said, “Son, you’ve got to keep trying, or you’ll never get there. Aim for 5.”

So I sucked in my flabby belly, and paddled the ball straight at the wall for a good 40 minutes before I got to that goal. Surprisingly, I got a good 7 instead. I felt good about myself, so I went to my father and told him about it. He pet me on my sweaty head and said, “Now go for 10.”

That’s when I learned that it never ends.

But I got hooked to the climb. Each time I tried, I aimed to out-paddle myself. Eventually, I got to 12, and decided to stop for the day. The next day I started again, and got past 20. The next day, I beat 25. Pretty soon I was doing 50 easily. There came a point in time when I could do couple of hundred without thinking. And then I switched to my left hand. Finally for party tricks, I stole my dad’s paddle, grabbed another ping pong and did both hands simultaneously. It took me over a year of course, but needless to say, by then, I beat my father easily enough.

From then on, I never forgot the first lesson I learned as a little paddling runt: keep trying, or you’ll never get there.