“For this, be sure, tonight thou shalt have cramps, side-stitches that shall pen thy breath up” William Shakespeare
And then when the fifty-five minutes were over, or maybe seventy minutes, one of those durations that reasonably passes for an hour we didn’t look at each other in post-athletic satisfaction, twirling our sticks and approach for a sweaty handshake. Instead a question was asked:
One more match? Yes, I’m good for it if you are. I am. Well then let’s.
And on we played. Two games, four games, six, finding new angles between the elbow and the stringbed of the racket. Voltric 9 versus ArcSaber02. Dashing to the baseline to crunch the shuttle back in a fast, flat longline drive. At the last possible moment. Already visualizing the soft short crossdrop but not getting ahead of oneself, lest a clear to that selfsame corner counterpieds one. Dashing, sauntering back to center, accelerating again, despite my bum leg.
The night before an epic cramp set my left legging in burning stone. All day I had been riding my bicycle like a madman, shattering imaginary personal bests, pedaling across the lakebridge in a flurry to beat the robot to red and other such follies of the speedcrazed mind. Gunning down from Sternmatt to Volta is as close as an overly prudent cyclist can come to heeding a death wish, a lust for velocity… in what is most certainly not a velo city. To top it out, a run was on that day’s program, 40 minutes in Luciaria’s akneehilating topography. The semitendinosus, semimembranosus and and biceps femoris, after all of this abuse, kept sending semisubtle signals that a jolly horse was on the cards. I managed to not pay too much attention because, surely, if you don’t pay attention to the unpleasant, you will be spared. Not the others, just you, for being so unique.
Anyhow, there followed yet more sports-related activity until at last, low and behold, the skeletal musclecramp set upon me with a vengeance. Battling for control I yet managed to somehow wrest myself onto my back and tried, with quite a bit of desperation, to flex my toes upwards as much as possible. Meanwhile a helpful soul gave my incapacitated leg an extra-boost from the sole on up while pushing down on the knee. To the best of my knowledge, these Charley horses wear off after a minute, two at the outside. But this particular nasty specimen kept those three muscle groups in rockhard stasis for over five minutes. I did writhe and groan. I cursed my unnecessary cycling efforts. Nadal came to mind with his cramp during the interview, the journalists just watching on as he slowly, slowly, contorting his face, slid under the interview table. Slid under the table without finishing his answer, without any of the scribes coming to his aid, transfixed as they were by the spectacle of it: regarding the pain of others.
At some point my quadriceps was in danger of going into cramps too, at which point I would have been nonplussed about which direction to flex my toes in. Straight down? To one side and then the other? A rock and a hard place = a simultaneous posterior and anterior spasm. Listening to one’s body sounds so deadeningly trivial until you pay the consequences for not doing so – one of those cases where the mind’s relative volitional autonomy is slightly dysfunctional. Anyway, microgripes.
So then 24h having passed, it was reasonable to give it another try, this leg of mine. Two hours we spent on court, sending the birdie back & forth to the most of our quite limited capacities. One of the sets was won 26[to]24. There was an elementary joy to the rallies. There is. Each rally has never happened before and will never happen again, despite all the material continuities/limitations of the badminton cosmos, despite the utter straightedged finitude of the field. Play is the state of grace within those intersecting lines and the skilful prevention of shuttle-ground-collision.