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Monday, December 27, 2010

My Ping-Pong Table Curse.

You know how they say 3rd time’s a charm, well not for me or my ping-pong table.
Here’s the story.
Several years ago, I was out garaging.  I was at a home where they had long tables lined up with clothing, knick-knacks and home décor for sale.  I was looking at some clothes when I realized they were actually scattered across a ping-pong table. 
I must say, I grew up with a ping-pong table and have a sweet paddle stroke.  We are a tennis family, so at my parent’s home, ping-pong is an actual sport.  It's mini-tennis. I’ve watched as my brothers have ripped it up in a to-the-death ping-pong match.  Seriously, they’re sweating and in need of water breaks.  Ping pong is a spectator sport and both opponents have a huge cheering section.
Image found here.
So, when I saw this ping-pong table, it occurred to me how much I wanted one of my very own.  I could teach my kids the deeper meanings of life while we shuffled a white ball back and forth.  I envisioned glorious family gatherings where never a moment was dull. 
So, I asked, “Is your ping-pong table for sale?”
“Yes,” the homeowner said. 
“How much would you like for it?” I said, trying to hide my excitement.
At this point, I realized stumbling on a ping-pong table could be a blessing and/or a curse.
First of all, I was willing to pay good money for it, money I didn’t really have to spend.  It was in great condition, so it was worth a pretty penny.  Second, I had never seen a ping-pong table for sale at a garage sale, so I knew this was some-what of a rare find.  Third, I had no way to move it home and fourth, where in my home was I going to put a ping-pong table when they are about as big as a SUV.
“$20.00,” the homeowner said.
I handed her a twenty dollar bill and knew the rest would just figure itself out. 
The counselor and I maneuvered it home in a borrowed truck and set it up on our back patio, the same patio  the Arizona setting sun hits every afternoon.
That poor ping-pong table.  It took a beating.  At the time, our children were very young.  Our oldest, Chandler could just see over the top of it.  He used it as a speed way for match box cars.  Like every thing else in Arizona, the summer sun had its way of messing with it too.  At times, it was a work table with garden tools and potted flowers waiting to be planted.  I put the cat food up on the ping-pong table so the ants and my crawling baby couldn't get to it.  I even used it as a quasi-patio table.  I had a large table cloth I threw over it when I had birthday parties.  You can fit a lot of chairs around a ping-pong table.
Later, I started resenting it.  I never had time to play ping-pong, plus it took up a lot of space.  There wasn't any room on my patio for anything else.
A year later, my brother was in charge of a church social event.  He asked if he could “borrow” the ping-pong table.  I later learned a “borrowed” ping-pong table is as good as a broken ping-pong table.  They are flimsy and not the easiest to cart around.  It was damaged on the way home from the church and left somewhere in a back alley dumpster.
Good-bye ping-pong table #1.
But, since I did find it used and for so cheap, I had hope another one would cross my path again.
5 years later, I'm in a new home with a huge patio, a patio begging for a ping-pong table.  
Enter ping-pong table #2.
Image found here.
In October, I drove into a beautiful gated community and followed the signs to an upscale garage sale.  Everything at this sale was top-notch.   Beautiful red Pottery Barn couches for $80.00, a turquoise buffet hutch for $70.00, clothes from Banana Republic and J. Jill.  I was drooling over it all when I spotted the ping-pong table in the corner, folded and leaning up against a wall.  A man was looking it over, when I heard the home owner say, “You can have it for $20.00.”
I suddenly wished for magical powers to put the man looking at it in a deep, deep sleep or some sort of trance where all he wanted was lollipops.
“I hope he doesn’t want it,” I thought in my mind when he walked away, back to his car.
My creepy dark wish was answered in the most unexpected way.  The man had lost interest in the ping-pong table and now it could be mine.
I paid for the clothes in my hand and gave the home owner a $20.00 bill for the ping-pong table, promising I’d be back in a few days with a truck, ready to haul off my large green rectangular game piece. 
Well, finding a truck to borrow isn’t always the easiest thing.  I’m blessed with an interesting karma where things I need come into my life.  So, I waited for a truck to come into my life.  As fate would have it, Thanksgiving weekend, my brother was in town with his sweet truck.
“Can I borrow your truck,” I asked and he was as gracious as always.
I called the homeowner to let her know I was on my way to pick up the ping-pong table; I just needed the code to get into the gated community.
“Oh, I didn’t realize you still wanted it.  I gave it to my friend today.  I’ll mail you back your $20.00.”
Hello my pathetic $20.00 and good-bye ping-pong table #2.
Meet ping-pong table #3. (I must warn you know this story does NOT have a happy ending).
Over the last few weeks, I’ve seen a gorgeous top-of-the-line ping-pong table at the thrift store.  It sat folded up on its rolling legs in the back of the store with the surprising price of $249.00.
You and I both know a ping-pong table is not selling in a thrift store for $249.00.  Because of the way the thrift store runs it rotation, I knew in a matter of time this beautiful piece of family fun would only be $1.00.  
So, I waited. 
The morning it was to be marked $1.00, I arrived at the thrift store ½ an hour early. I leaned against a planter box near the front of the store, reading my paperback copy of Girl with a Dragon Tattoo.  At about 5 minutes to opening, a line of about a dozen people formed.  I looked around, certain nobody else would want that ping pong table in the back of the store, but who was I fooling.  Everybody did.  At 9:00am sharp, a sales associate came, opened the door and gave a serious lecture to us, the eager crowd.
“No pushing, no running and just remember to be courteous, ya'll.”
She stepped aside as a mother with her young daughter hurried past.  I could tell by the direction they were running, YES, running, they were headed to the ping-pong table.  I’m a great speed walker, but I was about 4 seconds to late.  
Image found here.
“Are you purchasing the ping-pong table?” I asked in a somewhat sarcastic tone.
“Yes,” she said, out of breath from her 100-yard dash across the store.
She had her hands on it, looking for a sale's clerk to fill out an invoice.  
It was shameful.

Was I upset?
In a way, I was, because she didn’t play by the rules, but I don’t like to be upset.  It bothers me too much.  Then I had an idea.
I walked to the dress section and found about 15 amazing dresses for $1.00 each that should make me at least $100.00 on eBay. 
I realized a ping-pong table could still be mine; I would just have to work a bit harder for one.
Time to shop craig’s list.  I'm sure I can get a used one for $100.00.
I’ll let you know how that goes.
Maybe for me, the 4th ping pong table will be the charm.


  1. I love ping pong! Although I didn't have one at home while growing up, we did have one at summer camp. What great memories! Sorry you missed the ping pong table, but good luck as you're scouting about for another one.

  2. Great story. We have a table tennis company called Table Tennis Nation, and we are featuring this story in one of our blog posts, would love to hear updates on this story (