There is a club in Tucson Az, where it’s nearly impossible to tell if the members are tennis players or semi-functioning drunks.
It’s the only club I have ever joined.
99-percent of tennis clubs in America are full of tea-tea-tottling, upper-class twits who cheat on line calls — like they are John Fucking McEnroe. They fence off 4 or 8 courts to make a mini-gated community and call it a club. You’re lucky if they even provide water. Assholes.
Not this racquet club. It’s 30-something courts where drinking water is for pussies.
There’s a bar less than 200 feet away. If you ask nicely, they will eventually bring pitchers of beer to your court. There’s nothing like mixing booze, backhands and bullshit. Sure every once in a while someone smashes a knee or a face into a fence post. But that’s what makes it fun.
On weekends, the drinking starts around 10 a.m., and there’s 80’s rock playing in the background like a rally for retired Hell’s Angels.
They built the place in 1960-something and they have done little to improve it since. Most courts have cracks the size of the San Andreas fault. The lights are covered in dirt from the dust storms. There’s a yellow film from all the insect bodies trapped in the glass.
Gophers dig holes. Rabbits, snakes and owls prowl the patches of dirt and weeds that pass for lawns.
On still evenings in the bar, when the moon is just right, you can catch a glimpse of the mice scurrying into the corners. The mice have grown into half-rat size from the full carb diet of dropped popcorn.
Apparently, the mice are cheaper than running a vacuum.
Most clubs are full of doctors and lawyers and insurance salesmen. This club has a few of those, but it also has cab drivers, landscapers and — god forbid — teachers.
On a typical evening, it’s 60-90 minutes of tennis followed by 2 hours of beer and wings. Now that’s a fucking healthy ratio.
I try to spend as many evenings there as time and my liver will allow.
Tamal, who grew up in India, moved to Tucson several years ago from Virginia or Minnesota or one of the 10 places he has lived in the US. He was trying out different clubs. He could afford any club he wants.
“So I’m talking to this very affluent lady at La Paloma, and she asks what other clubs I have seen.” Tamal says. “So I tell her I’m going to this club, and she looks at me and says: ‘Why would you go to the Third-world Racquet Club?'”
Tamal joined our club.
“Third-world Racquet Club” should be listed in the “Make America Great Again” genre of slogans. If you don’t think about it for more than a few seconds, it sounds like it could be true. And it includes just the right amount of racism, xenophobia and bullshit elitism that built this country.
Every time I go and guzzle a few pitchers of Dos Equis Ale (Stay thirsty my Friends), I just have to smile at the irony of playing tennis in the Third World right here in Tucson.