MY MOVE INTO THE TENNIS RACKET
My move into the tennis racket came as a surprise to everyone, myself included. I’d been in the salt game most of my life. I was a salt seller. There are some people who call a salt shaker a saltcellar. They found it hilarious, I can tell you, when I introduced myself as a salt seller.
Invariably, these jokers would extend a hand and say something like, “You’re a saltcellar? Shake!” (Funny because you shake salt from a salt shaker, which some people call a saltcellar).
This became so common that I took to beating them to the joke, introducing myself with, “I’m a salt seller--shake!”
My reputation as the “hilarious salt guy” sky-rocketed along with sales. But one day I was vending amongst a salt-loving but famously dour religious sect in Sabbathday Lake, Maine . My “shake” gag provoked a physical, bodily shaking so extreme it resembled some sort of religous seizure.
I learned that these folk would wait quietly in a room of worship until the Will of God seized upon them and commanded them to, quite literally, shake. Never before had a mere mortal like myself made this same command upon them, and I was looked upon as God personified.
I used my power to command these “Shakers” to buy salt, and plenty of it, I can tell you!
The bit went so well, that when I heard about another sect down Philadelphia way called the Quakers, I reworked my gag to go: “Hi, I’m a qualt-queller--quake!”
Well, that didn’t go over so well. These gentle, peace-loving people did not mistake me for a god, but for a possibly retarded boy with a speech impediment. Despite their famous peacefulness, they chased me with pointed sticks back to my Shaker commune. There I hid, cloaked as a Shaker, hurriedly building some classically designed benches and chairs to make the disguise convincing.
Out of a fear of the Quakers, I decided to stay with the Shakers, except my fear of the Quakers was so great that I actually quaked, making me wonder if I wouldn’t be better suited among the Quakers. The mere thought of that made me shake, and I realized I should just stay where I was.
Now, thirty-six years later, when my (adopted!) children hear my life story, they invariably ask, “What about the tennis racket?” I answer in a meeker voice than I once had, “A snappy opening, my dears. Only that and nothing more.”