Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Ping Pong Test

Ping Pong, aka table tennis, is a game that my generation and the ones before us sometimes played, especially during the warm days of spring and summer. The name supposedly comes from the sound the early parchment paddles made when hitting the ball.

I was never very good at it. My mother, who used the Chinese-style grip before anybody in the U.S. knew to call it that, used to drub me regularly. Probably still can.

(In Spanglish, "los ping-pongs" refers to male, ah ... wedding tackle ...)

Um. Scoring and equipment have changed in the last few years, games are to 11 points, and sponge paddles put enough English on the balls they act like boomerangs. Good players stand fifteen or twenty feet back from the table to rally. When I played it, the game was to be the first to reach 21 points. You had to win by two points, so if you weren't two ahead at 21, you kept playing.

There were two other ways to win. You could skunk your opponent -- outplay him or her so that you got a certain number of points before he got any -- thus 7-0 was a win. We played it that 11-1 was also a skunk. After than, it was back to 21.

So here's the Ping-Pong Test, for those of you who know the game: Given a choice, and not just to entertain your bored child or grandchild whose computer has crashed, with whom would you rather play?

1) Somebody you can easily beat.
2) Somebody who can easily beat you.
3) Somebody equal to you.
4) Somebody you are slightly better than.
5) Somebody slightly better than you.

No pressure here. Except that your entire psychological makeup and outlook on life is revealed by your answer ...


Kai Jones said...

Heh. Number 5, of course, because maybe I'll learn something, and the challenge will make the game more fun.

Tiel Aisha Ansari said...

Somebody I don't know at all.

Steve Perry said...

Yeah, 6) None of the above, that's one of the choices that reveals stuff, too ...

Anonymous said...

Number 4, someone slightly better than me.


Dan Moran said...

I want to play the person who can easily beat me. You'll never learn any faster.

J.D. Ray said...

I like competition, so I want someone who is at the same skill level as me. I'm poor enough at most things competitive, though, that any opportunity to play a game is an opportunity to hone my skills, so playing with someone at my level is an opportunity for both of us to learn.

If I can't have someone at my skill level, though, I want someone better than me.

Jas. said...

For me, ping pong is not about improving my skills or proving my superiority ... it's about having fun doing something which will have no great impact on my life.

For that, equality of skill is what I would want.

It's just ping pong, after all.