Monday, September 24, 2007

the score

Yesterday afternoon, I played tennis with Sultan and his roommate in the Presidio. It's been a few months since I've been on the courts, so I was a little rusty and didn't really feel like I had my game on. Plus we were rotating players since we were three, so sometimes, just after I finally felt warmed up, I had to sit down and watch Sultan and his roommate play, letting my heart rate come down, my blood settle and my muscles cool. And then a few minutes later I had to jump back in the game, and get geared up all over again. On and off isn't my favorite way to play. I'd rather be in it for the duration of the match, ready to serve and return serves, ready for forehands, backhands, volleys, smashes, lobs--whatever you want to send my way.

While I was out on the court, the term Love--both the term for scoring in tennis and the sensation of adoring and being adored--came to mind. It's a funny term to indicate the value of having scored no points. In other sports we say Zero. Nil. Nothing. A shut out. But in tennis Zero equals Love.

Someone else told me this weekend that he thought that love and hate are interchangeable, that they mean the same thing. It's strange to think that the word love has adopted so many opposing definitions. In the bedroom it can mean fulfillment, and on the court it can mean zero, and in some people's brains, it can represent so much pain.

Alexei once told me that love is the most beautiful thing.

Lately in my so-called lovelife, the word kind of represents the way I played tennis on Sunday. Feeling the rush of adrenaline, setting the endorphins free, playing to the point of exhaustion, and then all of a sudden stopping, and having to sit it out, waiting for my next turn, and in the meantime being left with Nothing. Nil. Zero.


Anonymous said...

damn, girl. that is some insightful stuff.

I thought I'd look to William Safire for an explanation on the zero love issue but only found this written by Richard Lederer when filling in for Safire once (NYT, 9/3/1989):

"More spookery can be found in the game of tennis, where love means ''no points.'' Supposedly, the term derives from the French l'ouef - ''the egg'' - because a zero resembles an egg. But un oeuf would be the more likely French form and, besides, the French themselves designate ''no score'' in tennis by saying ''zero.'' Most tennis historians contend that the tennis word is rooted in the Old English expression ''neither love nor money,'' in which love signifies nothing, the antithesis of money."



KT said...

The semantics just get more and more complicated, don't they? Would it be better if my lovelife represented an egg? I'm glad, however, that I don't equate love with money. It's a different kind of game, with something else at stake.