Groan. Whine. Whimper.

So, my everything hurts. From somewhere around my chin to the tips of my toes, there is an ache or a pain or a twinge of some kind.

This physical fitness thing can SUCK IT.

Yes, my muscles hurt and my knees are a bit puffy and my falling arch continues to fall, but when I was younger, this stuff didn’t bother me as much. When did I become such a giant pansy?

(Probably when my brain got smarter than my body and reminded me that “playing through the pain” was what coaches said to push you to win at all costs. Or maybe that was just my experience.)

Anyway, I am experiencing the joys of a general post-workout wimp-out. It’s like the return of an old friend.

I decided, after, what, seven or so years of being home and not getting out and doing sports, that I would sign up for something that would get me out and working and moving around again. And where I would meet some new people because honestly, since the arrival of That Baby and her subsequent growth into That Girl (and the care, feeding, and daily maintenance thereof), I haven’t really had much opportunity to get out of the house with other grown ups that didn’t involve corralling children in one way or another.

Or groceries. I see other adults while grocery shopping. But that’s hardly the social atmosphere or work out I am looking for.

So last year, through our city’s sports and recreation program, I signed up for badminton.

That program didn’t actually run — there were not enough people — and I didn’t do anything. But when the fall programs started up this year, once again I signed up for badminton.

And, on Wednesday night, it started.

Now, I played on the badminton team in high school. I was okay. I went to the regional championships where I placed, what, seventh maybe? I don’t recall. By that time, I was pretty much committed full time to volleyball, at a pretty elite level, so there wasn’t a lot of time for other stuff. Badminton was just to keep me fit in the off-season, and once I got that involved with volleyball, there really wasn’t an off-season. So.

My family played badminton, though, competitively and well. Just one of the many ways that I failed the family: went to a different university than the rest, didn’t take up some sort of office job, partied too much, dated far too many boys. And didn’t excel at badminton. The family failure.

But I did like it, so when the chance came along I thought, why not? Years of volleyball have taken a huge toll and the chances of me playing competitively again are pretty slim, but badminton I figured I could do. Not competitively, of course, but enough to get out and work up a sweat.

So I got myself a new racquet (my original racquet is lost to me, at my father’s house probably) and out I went. (Ed note: BDH complained that it was not actually me who bought the new racquet, but rather he who dragged me out and made me buy one. WHATEVS.)

Walking into the gym was pretty intimidating, I must admit. I didn’t know anyone, so I was Socially Awkward Penguin With A Racquet. But the convenor came over and introduced herself, and she was really nice. I told her I was basically a beginner, but she said not to fear, there were a few of us.

Looking around the courts, though, as people were playing a little bit to warm up, I realized that was not really the case. She told me that four or five of them have been playing together twice a week for years, and watching them, they were really good. All the players on all the courts seemed to be playing quite well.

“Beginner badminton” my ass. I began to fear I had made a huge mistake.

I imagined myself looking like a fool, whiffing on shot after shot, and forfeiting my fees because I was too embarrassed at my inability to keep up that I didn’t return.

But once we got started, the convenor took a couple of us “beginners” onto a court to play together, and reviewed the rules. She went over new techniques for serving. She reviewed the grip and some skills. And we played a bit.

And you know, I was alright.

It’s been thirty years, but the more I played, the more came back to me. I mean, there’s the theory that sports involve a lot of muscle memory, and as a natural athlete, I began to see that might be the case. I worried less, thought less about the game, and just played.

I whiffed on quite a few shots, sure. But I made way, WAY more. Not a ton of finesse yet, but I made shots I could not even remember being able to make when I was a player. I was smashing and making a surprising number of one-handed flea-flicker desperation shots.

By the end, I was good enough to hold my own in a couple of games with the guys. And my team beat the most competitive player and his partner in one game.

I went four wins, five losses on the night. Not too bad.

But even more surprisingly, I had a BLAST. It was fun. I was enjoying being out with other folks again, and winning and losing didn’t much matter. We were all at some level of past our prime, just wanting to get out and get moving again, and wanting to meet some people.

It was a good time.

So yeah, I am sore today. Everything hurts and I am a bit of a whiny baby butt, I can’t lie. But you know what? Next Wednesday, I am going to go out and do it again.

And whine about it for a couple of days afterwards.

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