In the off seasonings, I make points of attending the Madrid Tennis Open. Is this because I have always loved tennis? No— I once harbored a revulsion for the sport! It seemed a pastime for social climbers and the insincere.
To explain my attitudes, let me ask: Have you have read Anna Karenina? In this massive tale, Leo Tolstoy writes of characters named Vronsky and Anna. Poised on the fringes of their own moral abysses, the two of them play tennis by swatting futiley at the passing ball.
“Such is the foolishness of bourgeois sport!” Tolstoy seems to say. Yet when he wrote the scene, the great Russian had never PLAYED tennis! And when, at the age of 68, Tolstoy DID learn tennis, he was hooked, lined, and sinkered. Tolstoy suffered from a tennisonian addiction for the rest of his days!
For an entire summer, Tolstoy played tennis for three hours or more each day. And while he lost individual matches, none could stand against him for those hours…and so houseguests, relatives, and children would rotate in to try to return the volleys of the greatest Russian novelist!
In this fashion, I related to Tolstoy but instead of playing tennis, I watch it in marathon bouts each summer at the Madrid Tennis Open. You see, Rafa Nadal is from Mallorca! And he hammered the tennis ball with the abandon of a Norse god on his way to victory...ah, the champagne flowed in Trimalchian quantities!
This puts me in mind of a Norse joke. It seems that Thor, the god of thunder, found himself stranded overnight in Midgard, the realm of the humans.
Seeking lodging at an isolated farm, Thor disguised himself with a massive cloak and asked the farmer for lodging. Reluctantly, the man let the god in and silently pointed to a room, which Thor happily occupied.
That night, the farmer's daughter paid Thor a visit, and the results of their meeting followed the usual pattern of these types of tales.
In the morning, the young woman unceremoniously left the god's bed and made to leave. Outraged, the thunder-bolt hurler said, “You depart without even a fare-thee-well? How dare you? I am Thor!”
“I am thore too,” the farmer's daughter replied. “But it wath fun anyway!”