Friday, August 25, 2006

Quick Post for a Busy Friday: Basketball and Velvet Chicken 

My Fridays are usually very busy, overscheduled with preparing for Shabbat and caring for kids, and this one was no exception. So, sadly, lack of time coupled with Blogger server downtime, leaves me without anything verbose to offer today.

Instead, I'll just ruminate about one of the more enjoyable parts of my Fridays: basketball. During the rest of the week, the only exercise I get is the dancing of my fingers across the keyboard. Only on Friday does the rest of my body get to join in the fun by playing basketball.

Now I have to be honest, I'm not 15 anymore. Or 25 anymore. Or 35 anymore. Or even 40; I'm 42 now -- and yes that makes a difference. I can't slam dunk the way I used to, mostly because I don't have a super-low basketball rim nearby like when I was younger. My eyesight is also causing trouble, because when I jump to try a layup, invariably the basket looks so much farther away than it used to.

But I don't let these deficiencies stop me. My solution has been to find a group of guys that are somewhere close to my own age. I'm still often the loudest breather on the court, but so long as no one brings their teenaged sons to the game, I'm usually spared any obvious embarrassment.

Today, though, was embarrassing. I missed almost every shot I took, many of them from right in front of the basket. Many of the passes I threw also ended up far from their intended destinations. In short, despite the obvious signs of significant effort on my part -- the panting and wheezing, the sweat-drenched shirt, and a face that my 5 year old described as a tomato -- I didn't come home with many accomplishments to brag about.

But I did come home with excuses, which is a close second on any male's list of goals when playing competitive sports and having to talk about it later.

In this case, it was hot. I mean really hot. HOT, hot. It was hot enough to fry an egg on an ice cube. So it was understandable that with all that sweat on my hands it was really hard to hold on to the ball. And the steam from my boiling facial sweat fogged my glasses, which also made it very hard to excel athletically, as I otherwise most certainly would have done. Worst of all, the unrelenting sun just sapped the energy out of any muscles I have left, leaving me lethargic and slow. I had all the speed on the court of a migrating glacier -- which, looking on the bright side, probably was a little faster than normal because of the melting run off from the heat.

Thankfully, the most important thing is that I survived with minimal injury, and returned home red-faced and excuse-laden, ready to hit the courts again next week. Meanwhile, it was time to cool off in a hot kitchen all day, cooking up Shabbat dinner. (Today's innovation: making Chinese food with chicken that is tender like in the Chinese restaurants -- the secret turns out to be velveting. As soon as our guests arrive and we finish praying, we'll see if it worked.)

Thanks for reading this post, a post I've been longing to write for over a month. Not necessarily because I was so eager to write specifically about my basketball prowess, or velveting chicken, but because for the first time in a long while, I didn't mention Shiek What's-His-Name. May there be many more such posts.

If you really, really liked this -- or even really, really hated it -- there's lots more: