Thursday, June 24, 2010

Perfectly Annoying Storm

Sebastian Junger, the guy who wrote The Perfect Storm, was on The Daily Show recently. He was there to push his new book, which is about the war in Afghanistan, but all I could think about was how this one guy has done something that very few of us could ever hope to do: infuse our language with a ubiquitous phrase.

The "perfect storm" that Junger writes about in his book is a confluence of meteorological events that lead to the storm of the century. Literally. Like, in a hundred years, you won't see so many phenomena happen simultaneously to create such a "perfect storm."

We now use that phrase to describe any unusual confluence of events: a perfect storm of stress, a perfect storm of holidays, a perfect storm of footwear needs.

I really wanted Jon Stewart to ask Junger how he feels about this use of his phrase.


I had my own perfect storm this week. And it was actually precipitated by a real, literal thunderstorm.

In a week when:
  • I have matches in all three of my summer tennis leagues (Mon, Wed, Fri)
  • I'm playing in a tournament this weekend. (I only play one or two tournaments a year, so this is a rare event.)
  • Wimbledon is on my TiVo. (Wimbledon only takes place two weeks of the year.)
  • I have a night class next Monday, which means I already have to reschedule a match from my Monday night league. (It's my only night class of the summer.)
  • I already have to make up a missed match due to thunderstorms last week
  • I have to be the substitute captain for my mixed doubles team this week. (The only time all summer I have to do that.)
  • I'd already had one match keep me up past my bedtime this week: a sweaty three-set affair in humid 90-degree heat. After 2.5 hours of play, my opponent had to retire due to leg and hand cramps. (I was up 4-0 in the third set, so he was going to lose anyway.)
  • Starting next week I will be out of town nine out of ten days, going on two trips. The one day I am in town, I have a league match scheduled.
  • The tennis center where we play our matches doesn't have any indoor backup this week because of a tennis camp for kids. Usually they reserve the courts for us in case of rain, but not this week.
In a week when all that was going on, my match last night was interrupted by a thunderstorm. It's something like the ninth thunderstorm we've had over the past two weeks. The weather report on Monday read this like this: Today, showers and thunderstorms... Tuesday, showers and thunderstorms... Wednesday, showers and thunderstorms. As King Kaufman would say, do you see a pattern there? Me neither.

So with all this going on, I have to figure out when to finish my match. We're currently at 4-3 in the second set. (I'm down, 6-7, 3-4, but I'm not out. Not yet.)

The really funny thing is how life is imitating art. Or imitating larger life. At Wimbledon yesterday an astounding match was played. In the fifth set they don't play tiebreakers at Wimbledon. So until someone is ahead by two games (6-4, 7-5, 8-6, ect.) you keep playing. The first one to six usually wins, but sometimes they'll go long, like 9-7 or 10-8. Any score past ten is very rare.

Yesterday a match was stopped due to darkness when the fifth-set score was 59-59. That's not a typo. Fifty-nine to fifty-nine! That's almost a hundred games longer than any match EVER played. They played for nine hours without a victor.

So it was kind of fitting that my little unresolved match happened on the same day. Maybe it adds to the perfect storm of coincidences.

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