Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The summer I turned 16, my parents and I were invited to a party up at the lake.
My dad’s boss, Wayne Bost, or R. Wayne, as I liked to call him, loved to entertain. At the time, he was owner of R. Wayne Bost Trucking Co., where Daddy was office manager.
We were included in an afternoon of fun and fellowship and generally making merry.
That is, until Mother spied the ping-pong table.
Somehow, she and R. Wayne began playing against one another.
Now let me say right here, Mother was good, really good. And R. Wayne was not used to losing.
He lost that afternoon.
My poor little teenage brain went into overdrive.
Oh my Lord, I thought. There goes Daddy’s job.
Fortunately, R. Wayne was a gracious loser.
The same cannot be said of my mother.
“I knew I shouldn’t have done it,” she said not long ago, “but I just couldn’t help it.”
Now there’s a new sheriff in town.
Our church has tutoring on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, and to entertain the children before they meet with their teachers, we’ve purchased a foosball table and a ping-pong table.
Mother and Andrew have been playing on Thursdays when she goes to help out.
“Andrew almost beat me the other day!” she reported as we walked at the Y one afternoon.
She was shocked.
I wasn’t surprised.
Last summer, Andrew and his friends played ping-pong about every pool break.
He and I played some, too. He just about beat me a few times, too. Of course, I didn’t let on to any of this with Mother.
“So, you’re not going to let him beat you, are you?” I asked.
“No!” Mother said.
(I’ve told you how competitive she is. She’s also not been happy to come in second in her age group in these 5Ks she’s been running, but she keeps on signing up anyway.)Andrew’s kept practicing his ping-pong game. He even made himself a custom T-shirt the other day with magic markers. It promptly faded in the wash, but here’s what it said: “If you think ping-pong’s not a sport, you haven’t played me.”
Wonder where he gets it.
When I got home from work last Thursday, I asked who won the game.
Andrew immediately jumped up. “I did, 21-18!”
He was clearly pleased with himself. He’d won the week before.
I brought this up when Mother and I were at the Y on Saturday morning.
“You let him beat you, didn’t you?” I asked.
“Well, I gave him a few points,” she conceded.
“You’re not going to do that again, are you?” I asked.
“No!” she said.
At church Sunday night, I saw Andrew practicing ping-pong with our pastor. In a few minutes, I went over and hit with him for a little bit.
Before long, I could see some familiar moves emerging.
One of these Thursdays, he’s gonna win for real.
And somewhere, R. Wayne will be smiling.
Contact Susan Shinn at 704-797-4289 or