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Home   /   Friendship, Hunting, Welding, & Table Tennis

I have a really great group of friends. We have been tight ever since junior high. All of us enjoy the same things, so it is easy to have a good time. One thing we really enjoy is hunting. Birds, big game, small game, varmints, predators, it’s all good. We spent every fall weekend during high school out roughing it. Well, I use the term “roughing it“ very loosely. My buddy’s family owns 700 acres of prime hunting land with a very comfortable cabin (read house) on the property. We had it all; TV, satellite, video games, you name it.

But when we weren’t out in the woods, guess what we did? We played table tennis. Yes ping-pong, that classic game of wit, strength, skill, speed, and the ability to perfectly skip the ball off of the table and into your friend’s nose. We looked forward to our table tennis grudge matches almost as much as our outdoor pursuits. The games usually lasted until midnight or later. This may not seem late to you, but after getting up at 5 AM to sit in a duck blind all day, staying up that late for anything was a sacrifice. But it was worth it.

We all have our arch rivals. It may be in school, or work, or even in your family. I don’t mean rival in the comic book sense, I mean someone with whom you are always in competition with for something. Well, I am no different. There was one of my buddies who was pretty good at table tennis. In fact, it was always one of us who left for home with the title of the best ponger (ya, I know it’s not a word).

On one particular trip we decided to have a winner takes all tournament on the last night of the hunt, with a best of seven playoff to decide the champion. It would be like the NBA finals, only without the celebrities, TV coverage, intensity, money, fans, general interest, athletes, and, ok, it was to be nothing like the NBA finals. Little did I know that in order for me to win, my buddy, who we’ll call John, would have to be electrocuted. Yes electrocuted, shocked, zapped, fried, not to death, but enough to throw off his game anyway.

In exchange for our liberal use of my friend’s family property, we always did jobs when we went out there. We would spend a couple of hours each day doing work. Our tasks included; drywall installation, painting, hanging doors, building a deck, and on the day of the tournament, welding a steel porch in the rain. Yeah, I know that it doesn’t seem like a smart idea, but high school guys are really, really tough (until they get a good current flowing through them).

So there we are working away happily in the drizzle. The smack talk was pouring down like the bothersome rain, only slightly thicker. Out of nowhere the welder stops working. “What the heck bro?” I ask John as he pulls up his welder’s mask. “Must not be grounded well” he mutters as he fiddles with the connections, his hands soaking wet as he stands in a large puddle. ZAP! The fuse trips as his body stiffens and he falls back into the mud.

Now before I go any further, I do understand the seriousness and danger of electricity, and that this could have been much worse, but he was fine. After we asserted that john was okay, we put up the tools and went inside. We even had a good laugh about our stupidity.

Now on to the tournament. Although John was to have no complications from the accident, he could not hit the ball to save his life. I would serve to him and he would completely miss the ball. He was having little “aftershocks” and his body was still dealing with what had happened. Now, a true friend would re-schedule the match, but not me. I wasted him. I felt kind of bad until the next trip when he stole my crown in a way that left no doubt. I think he even pelted me a few times just for fun. The moral of the story? I don’t think there is one. Just don’t beat up on a recently shocked buddy in table tennis or he will come back at you with a vengeance.

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