Two weeks ago our good friend Gregory was passing through Colorado on his way to Washington state from Vermont. Two things to know about Gregory: he makes great bread, and he is a fantastic badminton player.
Having spent many hours in his Subaru driving across the country, the man naturally wanted to play some badminton. So we took him to our Thursday night badminton gathering in Westminster.
Westminster badminton is great, but there is a weird badminton hierarchy in place.
I've been playing there for six months, and had not played a game with the "A" players, of which there are about 6. I'm pretty good, but not A level. But still, you need to play up in order to get better. Which I suppose is why they don't mix with the riffraff. Anyway, Gregory shows up, plays one game and spends the rest of the night battling the various A players to fight for dominance.
It's kind of like a primal herd, with the strongest Alpha players constantly butting heads to try and maintain superiority. Then another Alpha shows up and they swarm down on him, to make sure they are still in control. It was amusing to watch. If I sound like I am exempting myself from the primal herd model of badminton clubs, I'm not.
Just like any other animal society, the smaller ones (B-level players) want to challenge up and take a shot at the big dogs, or elk, or sloths or whatever. So I figured, since I brought Gregory, (who proved himself firmly in the A category) that should garner me some modicum of street cred, badminton style.
In fact, it did.
Last week, the gym was crowded, with nearly 50 individuals vying for court space. Luckily, I was picked up by Steveboy, a player of decent abilities, to play in a match with two Alpha players: Paul and Rohit. (Steveboy picked me up after I noticed he was choosing people to play with, and I obnoxiously said "pick me pick me!")
I partnered up with Paul, a Canadian (I think), who was typically taciturn as I walked on the court. His only advice: stay up at the net as much as possible (i.e. stay out of the way). But, despite a few stupid shots and unforced errors, I held my own and we defeated Steveboy and Rohit (who is actually very nice.)
Later in the evening, Rohit and Paul and Brent (another Canadian A player) were picking a game, and their fourth was in another match. So I approached them and said cockily: "need a fourth?"
Rohit, being the nice guy he is, said OK, and I got into an unprecedented second A-level game! Inconceivable.
And guess what, this time Rohit and I defeated the Canadian dudes. Nice!
So, did Gregory's coming to visit gain me valuable credibility on the Mean Courts of Westminster Badminton? Well, at least it gave me the confidence to say to the upper level players: I'm ready. Let's play. Word to your shuttle.