The burning summer sun melted down our necks and fell into golden puddles of sweat at our bare feet. Dancing palms rustled in thunderous applause as we lifted our tired yet victorious fists through the muggy air. The day was of an uncomfortable heat, made obvious by the way our Team Larry Ball t-shirts clung to our shoulders. My elbow gleaned a dark red, greatly contrasting with the newly earned tan of my skin: an injury from the previous battle. His relatives stood behind us, quietly murmuring on about how "...it was just beginners luck," and "They could never do that twice in a row." Our tangled, sand-ridden hair stuck like a helmet to our heads, symbolic of the war we had wrought upon our enemies. Exhausted but proud we stood. We were, finally, Larry Ball champions.
It was my first vacation outing with another family, and I knew to expect great things. I never, however, expected to become an official Larry Ball champion. Larry, the ingenious inventor of the game, had invited us to join his team for a round. The rules were simple: follow Larry (because he makes all the rules), and don't let the tennis ball touch the sandy beach. The 'old pros' of the game, which was basically anyone over the age of thirty, doubted our intense skill and precision almost as much as we did. This didn't keep us from putting our hearts and souls into the game. Even though the temperature was hot and our chances were low, we grabbed those ping pong paddles and sprinted down to the ocean, prepared for the worst. The worst came in a swift and unforgiving manner. We were ground into a pulp. I hit the sand a minimum of seventeen times, and I'd never seen women over forty run as quickly as they did. It was over for my team. But then, a miracle happened. Larry had mercy upon our souls, and ever so graciously changed the rules to golf style only two minutes before the end of the game. Hence, our low score of absolutely nothing became the perfect, hands down, no-question-about-it win.
Though I tell this story in a joking manner, the meaning behind it is no joke. This may have been an arbitrary, silly experience, but that's what makes it great. Growing up in a serious, competitive family, I never understood that games were not supposed to end in separate rooms and nobody speaking to one another. For the first time ever, I was playing a game not for the glory of winning, but for the enjoyment of actually playing. This attitude of friendly competition carried over throughout the entire vacation, and I'd never had so much fun. After Larry Ball, I've carried that care-free state of mind with me in all of my competitive exploits. Life, for me, has been made a little less stressful, and all due to a few tennis balls and a quick change of rules.