Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Batty for Badminton

FACT: Badminton is intense.

FACT: Never before in my life have I sweat so much than in tonight's three short periods of ten minute back-to-back games of "wanna-be" tennis.

FACT: I will never again make fun of serious badminton least not for a while.

The Vietnamese are CRAZY for badminton. I knew they were all about tennis and soccer, but badminton came as a surprise to me. I had wondered why a few of my students asked, "Teacha, do you play band-mitten?" in class. What a random sport to inquire about, I thought to myself.

Well, badminton is anything but random over here. A ton of people play it. I found this out today when one of my students from Prime (the private language school that I teach at) took me to practice with her friends. Foolishly I tagged along in cargo shorts and flip flops. Bad idea.

When we got to the sporting facility, there were six individual badminton courts occuppied by athletic men and women, young and old alike, huffin' and puffin' like Flo Jo after the fifty yard dash at the Olympics. There they were in their Nikes, their mesh Adidas' short-shorts and their Puma tank tops. I felt seriously out of place with my attire. And before I even had time to think of an excuse, my student shoved a racket in my hand.

"Me you play first," she said, "one on one."

"Okay," I agreed, not too worried about my anticipated performance. I'm athletic, after all, so how hard could it be?!

Uhhh, yeah. I answered that question after my ten minute round with her. She was good. And I was bouncin' around my side of the court like a diagnosed ADHD twelve-year-old. She was barely moving.

Bored with my skills or perhaps just not wanting to neglect her other friends, she told me to take a break. So I did. And she went off to play with some other people. Then, about ten minutes later, a man came around and pointed to my racket with his own.

"Uhh," I stammered, realizing he wanted to "one on one" with me as well. "Sure. Okay."

Good God. Same thing all over again. I was psychotically swattin' at the birdie and he was smooth sailin' through the whole match. After ten minutes with him, he tells me to "take a break." So I did. And he went off to play with other people. Alone yet again.

After downing a bottle of Aquafina, yet another gentleman approached me, nodding toward the same racket that had failed me two times before. I obliged. And for the third time that evening, I embarassed myself...and probably my student too.

"You have good time?" she asked me sweetly, smiling and sweating three times less than I was.

"Yeah," I answered, running my hand across the back of my shirt, realizing the sweat had soaked through. Wonderful.

"But next time," I said, hoping to redeem myself, "I'm bringing my sneakers!"

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