City Whinery

I’ve never thought of myself as a complainer but I think it’s entirely possible I may have been deluding myself.  Because lately, I find myself whining to anyone who’ll listen about how lousy things have been for me recently.  Oh . . . not in all respects, but definitely as regards the attention I need to pay to my body as I try to recover from knee surgery. This endeavor has proven to be way more all-encompassing than I could have suspected. Meaning that I’m almost always attending to some part of my rehabilitation; either I’m going to physical therapy, visiting my gym, icing my freakin’ knee or doing exercises at home. This drudgery is the subject that I seem to be most conversant with.  You can only imagine what good company I’ve become.  You, at least, can avoid me—-I can’t.

The purpose of all this effort is so that some day (hopefully, within my lifetime) I’ll be able to resume those activities that give me the most pleasure.  Sure, sure . . .  there are lots of passive things I can still do that I enjoy.  And truthfully, if those were all I was interested in, I could skip the gym and probably all the rest of it.  But I’d really like to get back to playing tennis . . . both for the playing part and for the social connections with my tennis friends.  But despite my best efforts, that camaraderie that I sorely miss, may be in serious jeopardy.  And there’s no amount of physical therapy in the world that’ll be able to set things right.

There’s a famous baseball story that has become almost metaphorical.  At the height of their baseball hegemony, the New York Yankees had a first baseman, Wally Pipp, who on June 2, 1925 complained to his manager that he had a mild headache and asked if could sit that day’s game out.  He was replaced my an unknown bench player named Lou Gehrig.  Well, that game began what became the longest consecutive games played streak in the history of the game.*  Gehrig, who earned the nickname, “Iron Horse” , would play in every game for the Yankees until May, 1939 —  a stretch of over 2000 games. Mr Pipp (who earned the nickname, “Wally, The Shlemiel”), never again played first base for the Yankees.

Why I’m telling you this story is that I’m in danger of becoming the modern-day tennis version of Wally Pipp.  You see, for a while now, until I needed to drop out because of my knee surgery, I’ve been in a great doubles game with some good friends; the tennis is really good and we have a lot of fun together.  But all that may well become just a bitter memory.

In my absence, my tennis buddies have enlisted a replacement, another friend of mine, Retep#2.  Unfortunately, from what I hear, the four of them are having a grand old time without me.  Which makes sense since Retep#2 is nicer than I am and also a better player.  And if that isn’t bad enough, he also has a car available and has supplanted me as the group’s designated driver.  This is no small deal since that service was my ace in the hole and supposedly made me irreplaceable. Hah!

But unlike Wally Pipp, I don’t intend to take this usurpation lying down. But short of slashing the tires of Retep#2’s car, I haven’t yet figured out a plan to re-insinuate myself into the group.  But I will.  Because believe me, the next-to-last thing I want, is to be referred to as “Neil The Shlemiel”.

Before all the smarty-pants weigh in, I know that some fifty years later,  Cal Ripken Jr. broke Gehrig’s consecutive games record. However, it should be noted that Ripken was often inserted into the lineup for an inning or so, solely to keep his streak going.



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