The 12-storey high Unisphere from the 1964 World’s Fair had been on my “Things to see” list. It had been there long before the opening sequences of ‘The King of Queens’ and starring prop role in ‘Men in Black’ made the sphere popular. But it took more than six years to get to Flushing, Queens to see it.
Much the same could be said about my “must experience it” desire to see the US Open in the flesh. Every late summer, for the time that I’ve been based in New York, I would walk past excited spectators queueing for busses to transport them to Flushing Meadows to watch the open. For some reason, I simply didn’t get myself over there.
So who do I have to thank for the double jackpot experience come 2007? A certain AM. One text, a few calls, and we had our day in the sun. Literally. On a beautiful summer’s day, while others were behind desks, our glee was multiplied by Arthur Ashe seats and a spectacular lineup that on the day, included Venus Williams, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and a bevvy of competitive Serbian players.
I had no idea that tennis fans were so genteel. There was picnicing on the lawn, greeters to bid you hello and farewell and “Thanks for joining us at the Open.” There were free mini-TVs and radios for Amex cardmembers (which I only discovered ex post facto). There was a Polo shop purveying cable-knit ivory tennis dresses with gold accents… It was the only sporting event I’ve attended with tens of thousands of others where politeness and relaxation was the order of the day. (Hmmm, perhaps I need to reevaluate my sporting habits? But not even polo or race days have this same relaxed pace.)
Suffice to say, I had a great and relaxing time. The tan and the warm memories from my day in the sun live on. Thanks yet again to AM — whose knowledge of the game, the championship and, well, almost all subjects were responsible for my delight… and who spotted the enormous tennis balls.
Don’t ask how I managed to rationalize spending quite so much for a giant tennis ball. (It went something like ‘little boys love balls, I’m sure if I amortise the cost over the years of play Calvin will get form this, $40 is a fair price…) But I can say in retrospect, it was more than well worth the look of delight and amazement when I presented it to him, as you can see. It has since become a firm favourite for testing various laws of physics, which at this stage, involve rolling it, on it, under and somewhat on top of it and seeing what happens.