Badminton with my aunt, cousin, and other assorted relatives. Last time I played was here, 3 years ago.

July 22nd, 2013, 7pm

It was 25°C with clouds and visibility OK. The breeze was gentle.

This isn’t the kind of game people play in the States: even its name feels like it sits comfortably alongside polo, croquet, and cricket; you wouldn’t be surprised to discover the Royal Family played it on private courts at Balmoral.

It’s like tennis, but not. Scoring and service changes are like volleyball, but not. The shuttlecock is a tiny, near-weightless thing designed to create an immense amount of drag. The racquets weigh almost nothing, and have a small surface area atop a long, thin neck, making the act of striking the ‘shuttle’ feel like you’re attempting to hit a golf ball with a putter, in midair.

I’ve only played a few times in my life, the last time at this same community centre, with my aunt, cousins, and a few of their friends. They play once a week, a gentle yet surprisingly vigorous form of exercise (I played 5 games of doubles — each to 21 by 2 — straight and was winded and glistening from the effort).

It has been about 20 years since I tried playing tennis — properly, at least — at the Chris Evert tennis summer camp in Fort Lauderdale. My younger brother, Alex, had already been taking lessons and showed natural ability, whereas I spent my very short time in the camp getting very frustrated at losing to kids with single-digit ages. I’ve picked up a racquet a few times since — managing to have fun when knocking a ball back and forth with friends and sometimes with Alex, though he makes a point of beating me every time — but it has never captured me as something I’d like to do regularly.

Badminton reminds me that I really do enjoy this type of game, and while I can’t seem to avoid feeling competitive the minute a score and winning or losing is involved, it’s far more appealing than tennis and an activity I will make more time for now that I’m living on this side of the Atlantic.

Craig and Chris said thanks.

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Dan Rubin

Designer, photographer, teacher, storyteller, dreamer.

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