“I Coulda Been A Contender . . .”

It’s beginning to dawn on me that my chances for glory are gradually and inexorably diminishing.  I’m not talking about fame or fortune; or even “making my mark” professionally.  More along the lines of a distinguishing, permanent record of some kind of achievement or accomplishment that I’ve been part of.

Game, Set, Match!

Game, Set, Match!

This point was hammered home to me while on vacation this summer in UnSag Harbor.  One day, I decided to take a bike ride over to an East Hampton tennis club, Green Hollow, that I had joined for the summer about thirty years ago. At the end of the season, the club ran a member tournament that I entered. I made my way into the finals and in what (sadly) remains a highlight of my tennis life, I won. Not only won, but beat the perennial champion, a guy named Ken Trell.

Without boring you too much (just a little) the match went like this:  I lost the first set badly and was trailing in the second set.  A handful of people were watching.  But then somehow I came back and won the second set. Apparently, word spread at the club and a lot of members started appearing to see the third set.  As we played in the third and deciding set, an interesting thing happened; even though Ken (who I was friendly with) was a very nice and well-liked guy, I started to feel like the crowd was rooting for me.  Maybe they just wanted a change. (This, by the way, is probably why W. won against Al Gore.  Despite the Clinton years of prosperity and relative peace, voters wanted change for change sake. Which may also be the reason Hillary is having such a problem with that moron.  But that’s a story for another time. Told by someone else.)  In any event, unexpectedly, I managed to win a tight last set in front of a crowd that had swelled to about fifty onlookers.

As thrilled as I was to win, I was even more elated to know that a plaque with my name as the club champion would be displayed on the clubhouse wall for time eternal.  Which is why I decided to bike over (remember the bike ride in the first paragraph?) a few weeks ago. I hadn’t been there in decades and things looked a little different.  I sought out the manager and explained that I had won the club championship in the 1980’s and wanted to see the wall where the plaques were displayed.  Sheepishly, he told me that the club had changed hands a few years ago and he had no idea what had happened to any of the club’s memorabilia.  And there went one of my few opportunities for an enduring marker.

That disappointment got me thinking about some of my missed chances for exactly the kind of superficial (read: plaque on a wall) evidence of accomplishment I’m looking for.  Probably my biggest error was my shortsightedness in the name I chose for a bungalow colony I converted to a co-op around 1980.  I had bought what had been Sharon Bungalow Colony (named for the owner’s daughter) and for marketing purposes decided to call it, Lake Huntington Summer Community, Inc.  Catchy . . . no?

Now, all these years later, it’s a thriving community of some fifty odd families who spend their summers in an idyll.  Had I known then what I know now,  those people would be going to the pool or playing tennis at, Neil’s Place.  Or maybe, Stein’s Vacation Cottages.  Or better yet,  Neil Stein-you know, that guy who won that Green Hollow tennis tournament-‘s Summer Colony.


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2 Responses to ““I Coulda Been A Contender . . .””

  1. Your loving sister Says:

    In your future I sense another , “enduring monument”. You won’t be around to see it, unfortunately.

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