I’ll play a game of ping-pong with anyone at a moment’s notice. Except I don’t like to hold the paddle vertically like the Chinese do. Someone told me I should do that a long time ago, and right away I smiled and said “naaah.” I hold my ping-pong paddle more or less like a tennis racket, which is more or less horizontally. I like to lean in and swat or “bunt” at a sidewards angle, and I dearly love my serves and slam shots. Which reminds me: A couple I know have a ping-pong table sitting in their garage, but they haven’t brought it out or invited me over to play in ages. One more joyful opportunity removed from the realm of likelihood.

Anecdote: I was playing once with a soon-to-be ex-girlfriend (or one I’d recently broken up with), and she got annoyed with me about my playing. She said I was channeling unresolved feelings about our relationship and manifesting them in overly aggressive swatting. She really beat me up about that, come to think. She may or may not have had a point, but since then I’ve been careful to temper my slam shots when playing with any woman because I don’t want to see one of those “looks.”

On the other hand I’m a dreadful tennis player (my backhand is pathetic) and I remember being totally humiliated once by a woman opponent who was five or ten times better than me. When the game mercifully ended I just wiped my brow and walked up to the net and shook her hand. But if our roles had been reversed she or one of her friends would have given me a look that said “why are you being so alpha male?…show a little moderation.”