Following the very disappointing US Open women’s tennis semi-finals where the two players I had been rooting for, Venus Williams and Caroline Wozniacki, were both eliminated by their opponents, Kim Clijsters and Vera Zvonareva, the resulting women’s final is one where I feel indifferent over the outcome. Yet, I will tune in Saturday night and I will reluctantly cheer for Clijsters solely because I find Zvonareva’s attention-grabbing towel-head antics during breaks irritating.
The entirety of my focus has shifted to the remaining members of the men’s draw – Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Mikhail Youzhny, but there is a wrench in my focus.
This Saturday I long to be in two places at once. Although I am in general a very good anticipator, my crystal ball was fog-filled last July when I agreed to volunteer usher a Saturday matinee performance of an off-Broadway play staged by a name-brand theater company. This theater company has been extremely generous to me these cash-strapped times. In exchange for handing out Playbills and flipping up seats they allow me to see their productions for free.
Unfortunately, this commitment conflicts with the men’s semi-finals and I also long to watch tennis. First up is my guy, Rafa, playing Youzhny, the last obstacle between the Nadal-Federer showdown I have been obsessing over almost as much as thought provoking sex acts I would deny ever thinking about to my family, but this falsehood might give them hope that I will end my career as an oversleeping underachiever and enter politics. I expect to be home in time to catch the second match between Fed and Novak. Novak is a player I like, but not when he’s playing Fed – especially if Rafa can get past Youzhny to the final.
If I had access to an iPad or iPhone those gadgets would allow me to watch this crucial match on the Open’s live Internet feed. Considering that this theater company always gifts me with a terrific seat, my watching a tennis match during the play could appear remarkably unappreciative. Furthermore, I am the one urging the audience members to please turn off their cell phones.
Since my dumb phone cannot play video, my mind has wandered in the direction of radio. Last Christmas, my brother, Axel, gave me an emergency preparedness radio endorsed by the Red Cross. Axel probably had 9/11 on his mind when he purchased this radio for me, but it offers a solution to today’s pickle provided I do not throw out my arm hand-cranking it half a million times.
This device is bulky, but I could tape it securely to my mid-section. If this rectangle-shaped protrusion raises questions, I would confidentially white lie that it’s a state of the art colostomy bag.
Once the lights lower, I will activate my emergency preparedness radio and discreetly slip in my ear buds. When the lights raise I will attentively stare at the actors on stage as my head is filled with play by play tennis commentary. The challenge will be to suppress cheering if Rafa breaks Youzhny’s serve. What if that occurs when an actor is delivering an emotionally wrought soliloquy about being abused by her father at age six; the benevolent patriarch she adored who transformed into a diabolical stranger after her mother went blind following a diagnosis of brain cancer?
Whooping aloud with gusto at that moment might be construed as inappropriate.
What if this play, a play I know little about, is a hilarious comedy and I am surrounded by hysterically laughing audience members while Youzhny manages to make mincemeat out of Rafa? This prompts me to emit a groan worthy of a dying antelope followed with tears of frustration as my gladiator falls. How do I explain that outburst to the House Manager? Do I claim I suffered a flashback of my benevolent father abusing me at age six after my mother went blind following a diagnosis of brain cancer?
What if this pack-of-lies explanation somehow gets back to my dear old dad? I can imagine the fallout:
Dad: What compelled you to say something so ridiculous about me and your poor dead mother?
Fortunately, my father is a sports fiend, with life-long ADD whenever we converse.
Dad: Wasn’t that one helluva match between your fella, Nadal, and that Russian, Use-its? I don’t follow tennis much, but that match was a nail-biter! You must have gone out of your mind!
If Dad only knew …