The Perils of Ping Pong

ping pong ball in a cactus
Our ping pong balls land in the most precarious places.

We’ve had our ping pong table for several weeks now. We’ve had fun playing casual games filled with laughter. Now my husband wants lessons. There’s a ping pong coach nearby who offers private and group lessons for all ages and he hosts tournaments. The coach is a national champion.

I suggested before we take the leap into instruction, maybe we should google the rules. I did yesterday and made a discovery of two rules we were breaking. First, we play matches to eleven and take turns serving every five serves. The official USA Table Tennis rules says two serves, not five. That’s easy to correct.

The second rule we were breaking is how we serve. This is a game changer — or game stopper. We were serving by putting the ball in the palm of our hand and sweeping the ball off. The official rules state we are to toss the ball at least six inches up in the air before striking the ball on its way down. Uh oh. This is no easy feat and takes a large dose of hand eye coordination.

I learned to serve with the ball resting on my hand as a second grader. I wonder if my dad taught me this method because he didn’t know the official rules? Or, was it because I didn’t have the ability at a young age to manage the ball toss and he wanted me to have fun?

In any case, this new serve made both of us really uncoordinated and frustrated. After practicing serve after serve, we both managed to get a few serves to hit the table. But it set us back in the fun department.

I told my husband I was done for the day and I headed off to the Casita for some “alone time.” I got out my laptop and began viewing YouTubes on “Four Killer Ping Pong Serves” and “How to Improve Quickly at Ping Pong.”

He walked in 30 minutes later and started laughing. He was doing the same thing in our bedroom on his laptop. We had been watching the same how-to videos secretly to gain the upper hand.

It’s not like we’re competitive or anything, right?

Ping Pong table on the patio.

Have you played ping pong? What kind of serve do you use? Do you think we need to follow the rules or play the way we want to have fun? I’m a rule stickler and my husband wants to play the way we used to. Is one of us right?

Let the Games Begin!

Kettler Cabo ping pong table on the patio
Our new ping pong table with a view.

We had a ping pong table gathering dust at our old home. We went back and forth on whether we wanted to move it or not. Our movers showed up with too small of a truck, they had to find a Uhaul to complete the move — so that set the nail in our ping pong table’s coffin. We donated it to Angel View Crippled Children’s Thrift Shop.

It had some good years of use. We raised our kids playing ping pong. We had relatives and friends over to play. The swim team played at our house. But lately, it had sat folded up in a corner in our garage.

Once we moved, I didn’t think about ping pong until our August beach vacation. At the park above the beach there were two concrete ping pong tables. My husband and played several games a day. We’d laugh so hard and it kept our heart rates going.

Summerland ping pong tables in a park
Beach ping pong at the park on concrete tables.

Then we went to Berkeley for a long weekend to visit the kids. My son found as an amazing airbnb that had a ping pong table in the living room. We played with the kids every evening. My son who had shoulder surgery had to play left handed and he was still beating us. It turns out that at his former job, they had a ping pong table at work. He played hours with someone he said was very good. It will be interesting to see how he does when his shoulder is healed and he plays us right handed.

airbnb with a ping pong table in the living room
Ping pong at the airbnb.

After the beach and Berkeley trips, I decided to order a new ping pong table. It would have been so much easier if we had kept the old one, but that’s like crying over spilt milk. We researched tables and decided we wanted one that was outdoor and could stand up to weather. I was so disappointed when it was delivered!

ping pong table in a box

The ping pong table arrived. Now about that “some assembly required.”

I’m usually pretty good at assembly required projects, but this one had me spooked. My husband cut open the box and there were multiple plastic packages of bolts, screws, nuts, etc. numbered starting at 40 going through the 50s, jumping over a hundred and ending at 128. My first step in assembly is making sure all the parts are there. I got out the instructions and they listed all the parts — but the numbers started at one and were consecutive — contrary to the contents in the box. I noticed the same type of screws in multiple bags. It completely overwhelmed me how to start.

My husband said, “Let’s send it back.”

I googled our area and ping pong tables. I found a game room guy. I called and asked if he’d assemble the table.

He said “Yes, next Wednesday for $450.”

My husband said, “Like I said. Send it back.”

I texted our realtor and asked if he knew anyone to assemble ping pong tables. He told me to use a website called Thumbtack.com. Good advice. They have service professionals at reasonable prices to do whatever you need. We found an affordable person who turned out to be a nice young man in his early 20s who assembled our ping pong table just like that for a fraction of the cost of my first quote.

So now I can say “Let the games begin!”

What fun activities do you like to do on vacation and at your house? Do you play ping pong or pool? What else do you do to stay active?

Do you like assembly required projects? How do you approach them?