So, tell me, Myron, what happened.
I got into an altercation in the park.
Did you get hurt? What kind of an altercation? What park?
The park by Brooklyn Bridge.
Did anyone get hurt? Did the police come?
No, no. Nothing.
What nothing? You look a wreck.
It got a little heated. Nobody got hurt. Millstein stepped in before anything got out of hand. Millstein’s a big guy. He stepped in.
Where did he step in, Myron. Just tell me what happened. What did you do?
I was playing doubles with Singer, and that guy Mickey something, and Rosalie.
Singer’s sister-in-law, and she had to leave and so this guy comes on the court. You know, the pickleball courts by the bridge.
And so this guy I never saw before comes on and he says he’ll fill in for her and before you know it, we’re warming up doubles, and it’s not like the usual friendly game. He’s hitting smashes and boom-boom right at you. In the warm-up! And so then when we start to play, he’s telling us all where we’re supposed to stand and how to call the scores and which side we should be serving on and who goes first. And what he was saying doesn’t make any sense, it wasn’t logical at all.
Wait Myron, you have to understand, not everybody thinks like you do. Not everything has to make sense. Yes, to you it does, but not everybody. Myron, you can’t argue with some people. It’s not good for your heart. You just have to walk away. Leave it be.
I should have but I admit I was thinking I know how to play this game and who’s he to tell me? We’ve been playing all summer. Nobody said we were doing it all wrong.
And you got into an argument about some farkakteh game? Give me a break. You don’t have enough things to worry about? Now you have to worry about somebody thocking a wiffle ball at your head when you’re standing in the kitchen. Please, Myron.
It’s not that.
Then what is it?
He was serving the ball from the wrong side of the court.
So I told him and he said that I was wrong. And I told him what the rule was.
The rule about serving from the lefthand side when your score is odd, and he tells me he’s first server and the first server serves from the right side of the court, and I tell him no and he says that’s the way it is where he plays.
And where does he play?
The Villages. In Florida.
What’s he doing playing in Brooklyn Bridge Park on a Friday morning in September?
He comes up to live with his sister in Bensonhurst for three months in the summer.
What, they don’t have air conditioning in the Villages?
I don’t know, but that’s not the point.
What is the point?
The point is that he said that he knows the rules because he plays in big tournaments and everywhere he plays they play by those rules.
The ones about the first server. I tell him he should read the rules.
I should read the rules? he tells me, you should read the rules, he says.
Myron, listen to yourself. Calm down. Show me the rules.
Because I want to see why two grown men are arguing over something so important as a pickleball game, that’s why.
Here’s the rule book. I’ll show you.
Myron, don’t show me. Let me read the rules. Go make some tea. I’ll come in when I’m finished.
Ten, fifteen, twenty minutes pass. Myron’s tea has gotten cold. Millie comes back.
Myron, you like this game? Obviously. This game with server one and server two, but sometimes server two serves first, and alternating sides of the court, side out, side in, even, odd, a line is in, but sometimes a line is out, and what’s the score? Two-two-one? One-one-what? Who makes up a game like this. With an eighty-six page rule book, yet? You know who? People with too much time on their hands and nothing else on their minds? And they make rules so that you get into an argument with some know-it-all-from Florida yet, with a two hundred dollar uranium-coated power paddle in his hand.
Look, Myron, I have news for you.
I hate to say this, but you’re both right, I think. Both you and Mr. Florida Villages bigshot, and neither one of you is totally right. Or wrong.
What do you mean?
It’s the rules, Myron. They’re screwy. They contradict themselves. I think.
Listen to this, “Rule 4.B.2. At the start of each game, the starting server begins the serve from the side of the court dictated by the score.” Okay. Then, “Rule 4.B.6.a. At the start of each side out, service begins in the right/even serving area.” It’s starting to get confusing. And then, “Rule 4.B.6.b. When the team’s score is even, the team’s starting server’s correct position is at the right/even serving area. When the team’s score is odd, the starting server’s correct position is at the left/odd court.” That can’t be, can it?
Right. No. Yes. Right. It makes no sense. I don’t know.
So, you can understand how someone would believe the part that doesn’t make sense to you because it’s right there in the rule book and it’s just the part that makes sense to them?
Yes. Now I do.
Listen, Myron, you go back there and if Mr. Villages is still there you tell him you’re sorry and that it’s all so confusing and no hard feelings and that he should come home with you and have a cup of tea. And, look, if he’s not there just forget about it, he’ll tell all his friends about the Brooklyn jerk he met. So what? Then next time just play with people you know and if someone new comes on the court you just say we play by the Official Brooklyn Bridge Rules, and if he has a problem with that, he should go take it to City Hall like everyone else does. On the other hand, maybe he knows what he’s talking about.