I May Have Saved an Old Lady from Elder Abuse. Or Not. It's Tough to Say.

Recently I’ve tried to change my attitude towards myself and BE NICER.  This all started on the tennis court.  Beating myself up after every missed shot didn’t help my game any, plus my throat would get sore from whisper-yelling “You missed another ball, you sloppy buttchunk!” to myself after every play.  I decided to start treating myself as if I were cheering for my kids, meaning I would stop ranting under my breath, stay cheerful, and remind myself to get ready for the next ball.  The positive approach has worked better.  I don’t know that my game has improved, but at least nobody is saying mean things to me play after play.

(A word of warning: Don’t treat yourself too much like your own kid, or else you might take away all the Halloween candy and make yourself go to bed.)

Anyway, my tennis league includes two elderly women who have mad ball-placement skillz but limited body movement due to frail knees and advanced cases of age.  I see them every few weeks, and in my head, I’ve nicknamed them “Happy Beret Lady” and “Teddy Bear Sweatshirt Lady” because of their tennis apparel.

You would think that someone who regularly displays teddy bears on her sweatshirts would have “Happy” in her nickname, too, but that’s not the case.  Teddy Bear Sweatshirt might be a cheerful person when she’s not on the court, but she spews the most horrible things to herself when she misses the tennis ball.  Her ranting is even worse than mine used to be.  Teddy Bear Sweatshirt is overly competitive with Happy Beret; I think they get on each other’s nerves.  Perhaps they are battling for a Best Dressed award (Creative division) that I am unaware of.

Teddy Bear Sweatshirt and I recently played against Happy Beret and another lady.  Teddy Bear Sweatshirt was meaner than ever to herself, probably because Happy Beret smoked us a couple of times.  Teddy Bear Sweatshirt yelled at herself, and the fuming sounded awful.  I couldn’t stand to hear anyone being treated that way.  If you’ve ever witnessed a parent getting too frustrated with a small child and stayed for a bit longer just to make sure you didn’t need to call Child Protective Services, you know the feeling.  Plus, there is something disturbing and incongruent about a woman in a saccharin sweatshirt calling herself a “stupid idiot who can’t do anything right.”

Can anyone wearing a shirt like this be a stupid idiot? Okay, don't answer that. Frail old ladies who wear these shirts are not stupid--they're kinda cute.

I went up to her and said, “Teddy Bear Sweatshirt, you need to stop saying mean things to yourself, or I won’t play with you anymore.”  She looked at me with surprise, and I explained how I felt about the abuse.  She laughed, and we’re cool.  She was nicer to herself after that, although she told me I was a numbskull pusswhip for missing a volley.  Just kidding.

I think I deserve kudos because I probably improved her life.  Either that, or she went home and dwelled on how she can’t even talk kindly to herself and spiraled into a deep depression.  If she’s out of the tennis league due to her incapacitating misery, then I stand a chance at the Best Dressed award (Creative division), especially once it gets colder and I wear my huge, ratty black parka to the courts and become known as “Homeless Tall Curly” in everyone’s heads.  Homeless is totally avant-garde this season, especially on the tennis courts.


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