Years ago, back when Studly Doright was a competitive racquetball player, his primary nemesis on the courts was a guy named Alan (maybe spelled Allen, I don’t recall). Alan was an experienced racquetball player, and the best in our mid-sized Texas town, long before Studly began playing the game, and for years beating Alan at racquetball was Studly’s primary goal.
Now, Studly has always been a competitive soul, and at one time he was quite the athlete. Before long he and Alan were frequently in contention for the city championship. I forget which man ended up with the most first place trophies, but I do believe it was the love of my life. That would be Studly, not Alan.
Alan was, and likely still is, a hoot. He could psyche Studly out before, during, and after a racquetball match, and that was no easy feat. Of course, Studly could give as good as he got. Even when they weren’t on the court, the two played constant mind games on each other.
One day about a week before the city championship, Alan showed up at our home unexpectedly. Studly answered the door invited Alan back to the den where I was sitting on the sofa folding laundry. I had on my workout clothes, no makeup, and my hair was still wet from the shower. Immediately upon seeing me sitting there, Alan exclaimed, “Leslie, until this moment I never realized what a beauty you are!”
This declaration was definitely aimed at unnerving Studly before the big tournament, but for just a second I blushed like a teenager. Alan went on to praise my burgeoning skills in the racquetball court before leaving me with a few words of advice: “Never be in too big a hurry to win or to lose.”
I recalled Alan’s saying today when I realized that I’d been in such a hurry to finish my novel that I’d written a bunch of crap in the last two thousand words or so. What to do? I’ll chunk those words into my “slush” file and try again. It won’t be the first time I’ve had to take that action, but hopefully the last time. For this novel, anyway.