Playing Ping-Pong in the Dark

Topless, I'm playing ping-pong against my anonymous, stranger-lover and one of his friends, two against one. From shot to shot, I can't tell them apart. Who cares as they are now the abstract other. We are playing in a neon-lit, pee-smelling labyrinthine basement, with no natural light like a Vegas casino, where I fear rats are scrambling at our feet. To get down here, we had to go through horrific slums -- Ethiopian? -- foreign slums always worse than American slums.

I focus on the game to escape the squalor. What does one of the guys have in his pocket, or am I just paranoid?

All my shots boomerang since I'm playing with a paddle ball. Sadists must have created paddle balls. I'm winning anyway, beating two stunned men. They've lost track of the score but announce: "It's eleven to ten, our favor." I've lost track too, but assume they are cheating. "No it isn't. It's eleven to ten, my favor." But they challenge me.

I discover I'm topless and call for a break. I consider leaving to buy a top, but am afraid to take my eyes off the guys for fear they'll con me. I find a man's shirt to cover my puny, deflated-balloon breasts. As I button up, despite knowing nothing about African culture, I think how hard it must be for topless African women with breasts like mine. After I put on the shirt, I lose the game.

About This Story

  • Author: Janice J. Heiss
  • Published Online: Jan 13, 2012