As a result of my last two posts, I’ve been getting these sorts of messages from my friends:
“Mother of god, what have you started on your blog? You’ll need bodyguards soon – although none of the men will protect you…”
“Are you still alive?”
So I’ve decided to stick to safer territory with this post. Or, if not necessarily safer, then certainly sportier.
The highlight of my summer in Rugby was playing squash with my good friend Kev, so I decided that I’d quite like to keep it up on my return to Riga. Remembering that Mr ‘I like to make my own jeans’ had mentioned that he plays, I thought I’d see if he fancied a game.
Me: We should play squash some time. By the way, I’m awesome.
Him: Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha
Me: No, really. I played four times during the summer and won every time. Against a GUY.
Him: There must have been something wrong with him.
Me: What? Why does there have to be something wrong with him? What if I’m just really good?
Him: No. There’s definitely something wrong with him.
Nursing my wounded pride with a bottle of wine a few nights later, I happened to mention the conversation to my Latvian girlfriend. It turned out that she had also played squash in the past and was dying to start again. Would I like to have a game? My mind started working overtime.
Latvian woman in general = dangerous
Latvian woman + squash racket = x
As I’ve always sucked at equations, even without wine, I ended up agreeing to play. I figured that since a) I’m not a man and b) I’d be nowhere near her man, I’d be safe enough.
She picked me up a few nights later and we headed to the rather swish Joker Club. Unfortunately, not quite swish enough not to have prison-style showering. (Seriously, how much would it cost to put up a few curtains?)
We’d been trash talking for the previous couple of days –
‘Latvia’s going to kick Ireland’s ass!’
‘Huh, Latvia isn’t going to know what hit it when Ireland rolls into town…’ etc.
All good-natured banter – or so I thought until she emerged in professional sports gear, doing stretches that would impress an Olympic athlete.
For anyone who hasn’t played squash before, it’s not the most relaxing of sports. There is a lot of sweating, grunting, slamming into walls and hitting stuff with your racket – including yourself and your partner. Or at least there is the way I play it. And with Kev, it had been really good fun. All everyone in the sports centre could hear was me laughing and swearing for close to an hour.
At the Joker Club, I’m pretty sure all everyone could hear was ‘Don’t hold your racket like that; hold it like this’, ‘You should have come into the middle of the court’, ‘If you’d hit it like this, you would have got that one’ and finally, ‘Are you deliberately aiming at me?’ (I was.)
It turns out that the Latvians’ god-given talent to get in people’s way on the streets works amazingly well on a squash court. Every time I moved, she was directly in the path of either me or my racket. (Maybe Latvia should give up ice-hockey as a national sport and consider squash instead? You’d be naturals.)
Whenever I did hit a good shot, the feeling of exuberance was quickly followed by the fear that can only be instilled by a Latvian-Girl-Death-Stare.
I decided after an hour (and maybe 15 good shots from me) that I had two options:
1) Never play again.
2) Get really good, really fast – because having your ass handed to you by a Latvian chick is no fun.
I think I’m leaning towards option 2, but
unfortunately this week, I’m laid low with the cold from hell, courtesy of the earliest winter in history. As I can barely stay upright through an hour-long lesson, playing squash is out of the question.
At least until next week. In the meantime, I’ll work on perfecting my Irish-Girl-Death-Stare…