Tennis Whites

At fifteen I wanted so much

to swan onto the court

in pristine whites – a top with

tasteful scalloping around the chest,

a flirty razor-pleated skirt

from under which would peek-a-boo

frilled white lace panties, shoes

proper shock-absorbing leather

and socks that didn’t reach

above the neck of the shoe,  except for

a bouncy little pom-pom.

In this get-up an illusion of competence

would be complete and predict

the surgical precision with which a player

might deploy that instrument of competition,

the professional-grade tennis racket.

At fifteen, however, I was

very much the ugly duckling

waddling onto courts in my

drab adolescent plumage

of badly-fitted black and white checkered shorts,

an electric lime-green Banlon top,

thickly folded ankle socks and

cheap canvas sneakers from the local Woolworth’s.

I did have a top-of-the-line tennis racket

with expensive gut strings, and always

the best new Spalding balls that reminded me

of freshly formed snow-balls.  And yet,

in this outfit I looked like what I really was,

an awkward, poorly accessorized Eastside girl.

I lacked that certain polish which would put

an opponent on notice that here was

a player who might prevail,

until I made my first service.

GM,  April 4, 2005

5 Responses to “Tennis Whites”

  1. galvanized Says:

    Gabriella, i loved, loved, loved this! I got the detailed mental picture and am still chuckling. :D”’ (I had the same experience with ballet.)

  2. Rahul Says:

    The imagery is so funny! 🙂 Nice one there!
    Would like to tell a small story.When I was in my early teens, I was ahuge fan of Bruce lee flicks.I was so bedazzeled by his wondeful actions and antics that I decided Karate would the way of life for me…..may b I would go to Shaolin Temple even!! I got myself a cheap book on KARATE from the Book Fair & got back home elated.I started practicing as per the instructions.but to my utter dismay nothing happened and my dream of becoming the 2nd bruce lee died an eary death.
    I guess while growing up we all hv these fantasies of becoming sport stars, movie stars,etc to even being the president of the countries!thats the joy of childhood I think 🙂 Bye.

  3. suburbanlife Says:

    Rahul… I can imagine just how keen you were to be a “Bruce Lee”, maybe you didn’t have willing victims to practice on?:-)
    Melanie… ah to be a ballerina, isn’t that every little girl’s favourite fantasy?
    It was mine too… only I had bowed legs and looked a bit like Ed Sullivan (no neck) and would have made a good ballerina in “drag” in the Ballets Trocadero! Hee:-)

  4. Leigh Frazier Says:

    I was working on my own blog GirlBitesDog.Livejourna.coml about tennis whites and a racial misunderstanding. So I typed “tennis whites” into Google and found your blog. I love your entry. Very poignant.


  5. James Says:

    beautiful and well composed poem!

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