09/16/2019 1 By BuddyCushman

It wouldn’t take long to clear off the ping pong table for use today and possibly tomorrow as well. I had the thought upstairs, a short while ago, to delay the trip to the coast for a day, seriously consider a Wednesday morning departure after looking at the forecast on my phone. It’s up for real debate, in my head right now, surprisingly, the thought of giving up a full day at the ocean feels crazy. Spenser wouldn’t mind, though, another day at home up in his room with his TV and VCR and a couple hundred DVDs. He’d be fine with the delay.

But back to the ping pong table, presently more than three-quarters covered with writing and drawing notebooks, a heavy wooden, collapsible easel, large (20 x 30) sheets of thick paper for future oil painting, scrap paper and various painting supplies including a large glass jar of mineral spirits, and a nearly half-the-table-sized clear plastic bag from Blick, set down to keep paint drools and splatters off the table which could therefore mess with future back-and-forth games.

My wife Susan loves the table. She loves ping pong. She is not crazy about me treating it as a storehouse for painting and drawing and writing stuff. I, on the other hand, have lost the glow of fun playing ping pong I once had, certainly back eight years ago after we borrowed a pick-up truck and drove far out into Northeast Portland to buy the table we’d found on Craigslist for fifty bucks. We’d somehow managed to fold the table, its traditional ping pong green, up on itself in half and bent all the black metal legs up and under and struggled it down the stairs into the basement, where by the fact of its size it became the center piece down here. You’d walk close around it to do other stuff.

Back then and for a number of years following we played ping pong all the time, sometimes hours a day. Then it changed with Spenser moving in from Florida and me needing to transfer my oil painting down here. But mostly it changed when chasing and stretching and bounding to return Susan’s shots from the other side of the net caused sharp and more frequent ripples of electric pain in my knees. More and more.

So the time playing games decreased and my use of the table for storage escalated and now months can go by without a single game counting up to 21. And this morning, some 20 minutes ago, I saw tomorrow’s forecast for 50 mile-per-hour winds and maybe an inch of rain over and on the other side of the mountains we need to cross and came down here to write, sadly considering losing a day at the beach in trade for not driving in the forecast-ed real bad weather. And I realized it would not take long to clear off the ping pong table.

And maybe have a game or two with the wife. Knees be damned.