So, a whopping five days after the typhoon struck, my coaches gym finally got electricity! It was even more amazing because his was the only building in the entire block to get it. But I wasn’t complaining.
But I would soon.
You see, not only was power out in most of the other courts, but a lot of badminton courts in my part of the city were wrecked by the typhoon. Even the giant government run stadium down the street had its roof ripped off and the courts destroyed. So they will take some time to recover and be “playable.”
But with the small amount of damage my coach got, the only thing keeping it closed was the darkness, and with the power came the customers. And customers, and customers.
I figured I could use my “foreign celebrity” status to get me onto a court and for a bit, it worked.
Until I got kicked out.
“I think it’s time for you to take a break,” said the manger of the group I was playing with. I had been playing for an hour and I think he was waiting for me to take a break myself. But I’m Xiao Bing, (my chinese name) and I’m famous for never taking a break. So he finally interrupted my play.
“There are a lot of people in the group waiting to play,” he said gesturing to the sidelines. There was about 10-15 extra people just sitting around waiting. “You’re not even in our group…”
I got the message, so I thanked my opponent and slunk back over to the other courts which had only gotten more crowded in the process.
Thinking I could find a familiar face and sneak into their court I looked around. Only thing was, I didn’t know these people! I go to the courts everyday! I play with a ton of strangers and yet I didn’t recognize anyone?!
I know I’m a bit egotistical but as someone who is there everyday, and a favored player of my coach I feel ownership of the court. I couldn’t find even ONE familiar face?! Inconceivable.
I saw one of my group mates, sitting off to the side and I joined him. We sat and waited.
The place was just bustling. Each court (14 in total) was filled with doubles. On the sidelines 5-6 extra people for every one court. Obviously I wasn’t the only one who missed badminton during the typhoon.
But I am the only one who is the teachers pet and when he walked by I asked my coach, (okay, I whined,) “When can I play? This is so booorrrinngggg.” (Keep in mind it had been like 10 minutes at this point. I really hate taking a break.)
“Sorry,” he said. “You came too early! I told you it was booked up today.”
After 8pm a few courts opened up and I was allowed to play with no breaks. But it was too late. My flow was broken, my legs had gotten cold again and my mojo left me. Me and my favorite mixed doubles partner Xiao Jiang, usually an unstoppable duo, only managed to win one out of seven games we played together. I gave up at 9:30 and headed home.
The next day I again decided to say “fuck it” and just go early (5:30) hoping to sneak onto someone else’s court. I had better success this time, managing to play with several other groups for two hours until my group showed up 8.
Then after another few hours, I heard the golden voice of my coach calling me from across the arena. “Xiao Bing! Lai!” (Come.)
My coach! He’s been so busy we haven’t had our normal class for more than a month. And he always wants to play with the highest level players so I rarely play with him. But tonight he wanted to play with me!
As the first shot was playing he yelled out some criticism and, distracted, I missed the birdie.
“You made me too nervous!” I yelled at him.
“Sorry, sorry, sorry,” he said in his heavily accented English. Then in Chinese he added, “Do you not like playing with me?”
“I like it!” I laughed back. Cheeky bastard.
So we played together and we managed to win all three games despite it being like a bad Abbott and Costello routine (with me being the fall guy.) Every time I asked if I was doing something wrong he responded with a “of course!” and then he “reminded” me of a few things he swears he taught me and I swear he didn’t. (Like a new grip.)
My group member have been coaching me and training with me and really pushing me to improve. But my coach is my coach and playing with him felt like before I had been drunk and someone dunked my head in a cold tank of water to sober me up. My head was clearer, my skill and tactics was better and it just felt like everything was right with the world.
Meanwhile I’ll just have to deal with the crowds and make some new friends who I can use for their court. I like playing with different people, and I like my coach having some financial success. But damn people! Get outta MAH COURTS!!!