My family had a Ping-Pong table when I was a kid. It turns out that "Ping-Pong" is a brand name, the sport is actually called Table Tennis. I never call it that.
I'd guess we got it in the early 1970's. That table was always there, seems like for as long as I can remember. I got pretty good. I had two older brothers and a Dad to keep up with.
It was a good way to pass the time, days are long in rural Ohio, even the short days of winter - especially the short days of winter. I don't recall how it came to be, I know my brothers really wanted it and my Dad advocated for it, I think it came at Christmas. I could worry about the accuracy of the situation and timing, I could look it up, ask my brothers, ask Mom...
I'm not going to, though. Those aren't the details my mind seems to hold onto, but, I need only hear that "thock, thock, thock" that only Ping-Pong paddles on balls can make, and...
I see the basement instantly whenever I hear that sound, my Dad's work bench at one end, a chest freezer at the other, an old stove sometimes used for a second turkey along one wall, an old fridge full of pop and Rolling Rock, hams and Hillshire Farms summer sausages and questionable cheeses. The rag chest where old underwear and worn out jeans and flannels waited to polish a wood table or silver family flatware or clean a carburetor, a five gallon tin of Husman's chips on top stale and salty - grabbed by the handful as I waited my turn to get beat - stood a bit wobbly next to the fridge, a red high-stool, with steps that flipped out to sit on next to it.
I know we talked a lot, laughed a lot, argued a lot and bonded as best we could. Dad didn't play all the time. He won a lot. I played with neighbor kids and high school mates, college friends, my parent's dinner guests and even an occasional girl, though I remember mostly all guys, cigarette smoke and scotch tinkling in round seventies tumblers and plenty of Rolling Rock.
It is a fond memory, memories, I guess, but I wonder why it is so dear?
Back in those days the game was played to twenty one, serve trading on the fives except for the winning point.
We play to eleven now, Nick, Zack and I.
Yep, a few birthdays back, my Mom got the boys - and their dad - a new table. They're pretty damn good. Zack slams and slams and Nick plays a finesse game.