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The Game Normal People Play
Peter Nord
January 23, 1978
This guide is an introduction to tennis as played by normal human beings. It covers matters not usually dealt with in tennis instructionals, important matters that can add hours of enjoyment on the court, cut expenses and occasionally produce a victory over another normal human being. You'll learn how not to lose tennis balls, how to look like a tennis player, how and when to cheat, how to exercise without working up a sweat, and why the topspin lob should be considered anathema in a society that produced Abraham Lincoln, F.D.R. and Martin Luther King Jr. This guide is not endorsed by the USTA, but they've been wrong before.
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January 23, 1978

The Game Normal People Play

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This guide is an introduction to tennis as played by normal human beings. It covers matters not usually dealt with in tennis instructionals, important matters that can add hours of enjoyment on the court, cut expenses and occasionally produce a victory over another normal human being. You'll learn how not to lose tennis balls, how to look like a tennis player, how and when to cheat, how to exercise without working up a sweat, and why the topspin lob should be considered anathema in a society that produced Abraham Lincoln, F.D.R. and Martin Luther King Jr. This guide is not endorsed by the USTA, but they've been wrong before.

How to be mistaken for a tennis player

Fifteen years ago, when my friend Lenny used to go out to play tennis, he carried his racket in a laundry bag and when he was about halfway down the block he would yell toward his house, "Tell Mommy I'm going to the laundry, that's why I'm carrying this laundry bag because I'm taking this laundry to the laundry."

Because in those days tennis players were called sissies.

About 10 years ago tennis players came out of the closet.

When that happened, my friend Lenny, who hadn't yet bought one of those terrific carrying cases for tennis rackets, would go out to play tennis carrying his racket in the laundry bag and when he got halfway down the block he would yell toward his house, "Tell Mommy I'm going to play tennis and I'm carrying my tennis racket in the laundry bag until I can get a carrying case for my racket."

But by the time Lenny had gotten a terrific carrying case for his racket, half the people on his block were playing tennis and had their own terrific carrying cases, and that included Pinchik, the Poet, who didn't even play stickball when he was a kid, and Chicken Fat Farber, who was 5'6", 225 pounds, and who breathed heavily when he carried out the garbage.

Everybody played tennis. Everybody. Everybody walked around with a tennis racket under his arm.

So my friend Lenny started walking around with two tennis rackets under his arm.

And that made him feel terrific for a couple of months, until one day he looked out and saw Chicken Fat Farber with two tennis rackets under his arm and a sweatband on each wrist.

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