If I hit some bullshit tennis shot off the net and it falls in for a winner, don’t hold your breath waiting for that pussy little hand wave that most players give.
I’ll walk toward the net, pose like King-Kong and scream, “That’s my favorite shot.” Right in your face.
Thank you Joe Brodsky.
I started playing tennis with Joe Brodsky and some guy named Mike back in the 90’s — every Saturday morning in Gilbert. We played with Joe for 5 years or more. And for those 5 years, on every let cord, Joe would scream “That’s my favorite shot.”
He was easily 25-35 years older than me. Eventually, his shoulder and knees and heart just wouldn’t let him keep up with us. But for the next 20 years, he still came by most weeks to talk shit. He helped run the tennis venue and showed up at every tournament to help run “the desk.” He helped a lot of other charities too.
Scream like Tarzan
Joe was always smiling — praising people or provoking them. Mike used to have anger issues. Joe was an expert at finding every button and pushing it just enough to make Mike scream like Tarzan.
Mike would be on the other side of the net working out his “primal therapy”, Joe would turn his back and giggle at me like we were 1st grade girls heading for “It’s a Small World” at Disneyland.
Yeah, you may have guessed already — between the screaming and giggling, we had a hard time keeping a regular 4th guy for the first few years.
Mike doesn’t scream as much any more, but when he does, it still makes me laugh.
Thank you, Joe Brodsky.
Joe had two giant hearing aides and couldn’t hear shit. So everything came out of his mouth loud and proud.
There was no such thing as “an aside” with Joe. Somebody would walk by, and Joe would whisper loud enough for everyone to hear.
“That guy’s terrific… Or that guy’s an asshole” came out at the same volume.
A few years after he stopping playing tennis, Joe told me how he got the hearing aids. Back in the 70’s or maybe the 80’s, he had been a NYC cop. Trapped in a basement with a suspect with a gun. The guy got on top of Joe, pulled a gun, and Joe was wrestling the gun away.
Joe’s head was between a metal wall and a furnace. The guy got off two shots — one on either side of Joe that missed his head, but the noise destroyed his ears.
A few months ago, Joe died. He went quick. Had some stomach pain, went to see the doctor and apparently had a belly full of cancer.
No bullshit time-wasting massive excessive medical costs for Joe. No one wants to say it, but a lot of effort is wasted in the last 6 months of life when there is no hope. One of my personal heroes was Art Buckwald (the political humorist) who in his late 80’s refused dialysis and lived his last days on his own terms. Joe did too.
“I’m going to be as high as I can for as long as I can,” Mike told me Joe said.
Like most of my friendships, I didn’t get to know Joe as well as I should (I can’t shake off that Irish Catholic keep your distance bullshit).
Joe and I never discussed anything deeper than whose turn it was to serve. We had complete opposite world views anyway (based on Facebook, I’d list him as crazy-ass Republican).
But the little piece of his life that I knew (Joe hanging out at tennis) reminded me to be happy with what you got.
Be happy to play while you still can. Be happy to help while you still can. And apparently even when the end comes, be happy as you can about that too. I don’t live anything like that, but it’s always good to have a better example.
Thank you Joe Brodsky.
And for those of you who think I’m an asshole for celebrating a let-winner, Joe and I would like to share a giant fuck you when I yell —
“That’s my favorite shot.”
Update: Jan. 16, 2020
I just heard one of my tennis friends from Val Vista Lakes died in his sleep last night. We will miss you Alan Federoff. And it made me think how much I miss Joe Brodsky.
So I republished this thank you to Joe Brodsky in memory of all my friends from Val Vista who have passed. That list is getting too long. I won’t put just the names here.
If I can find the talent and the inspiration, someday I’ll try to tell a story about each one.