Thom’s Thursday Thoughts on the U.S. Open

US Open 2017 Tennis Grandstand
“Greedy bastards.”

Last week, I wrote about Tom’s thoughts on working out. It only makes sense to follow up with Thom’s thoughts on watching other people exercising. Specifically, the players at the U.S. Open.

We went on opening day, since Tom got two free tickets through his job.

“Our tickets come with food and beverages,” he said.

I prepared not to look too smug while walking past all the plebes into what I imagined would be corporate-sponsored box seats. But as we waited in a regular line with a crush of regular people (this U.S. Open broke opening day attendance records), it was clear our tickets were not special at all. Still several yards away from the entrance, Tom reread the “food and drink” part.

Food and beverages not included.”

All we had were passes into some fancy lounge, in which we could pay for food and beverages.

“Cheap fucks,” said Tom.

We got over it, and eventually, we got in, right at the beginning of the first match Tom marked to watch, a women’s singles match between two young up-and-comers. One of them was, for lack of a better word,  jacked.

Her arms and upper back displayed more muscles than I suspect exist in my entire body, and her legs reminded me of certain closeups in Jurassic Park: The Lost World. After the first set, it was clear that “Big Juice,” as Tom called her, was going to win. She had not only the physique (imagine if Arnold took estrogen for a month, maybe two), but also the mindset, which she channeled through a steely gaze that beamed out from bright but narrowed eyes. She was fun to watch, even with Tom’s lively and very audible commentary.

“Looks like Big Juice over here is speeding up against BDL,” said Tom as she regained her footing with three swift points in a row.

“What’s ‘BDL’?” I asked.

“Big Dutch Lesbian.”

I observed Big Juice squatting down to receive a serve and marveled at the volume of her back thigh muscles.

“Yeah that’s what happens when you spend eight hours at the gym,” Tom said.

When she sat down between sets, Tom voiced over the ballboys offering her Evian water: “Would you like regular human growth hormone or sparkling human growth hormone?”

When no one was saying anything, Tom asked, “How often do you think she shaves her mustache?”

“What if she were dating a male ballet dancer? A ballerino?” I mused aloud, “Do you think she makes him feel safe?”

“Sure,” Tom said, and pretended to be the ballerino, “‘We went out and someone tried to jack our car. She ripped off his arms and beat him to death with his own arms!'”

Big Juice defeated the BDL. Tom and I shared a hot dog and watched a few more games, anticipating Caroline Wozniacki’s match against Mihaela Buzărnescuin in the Grandstand. For Tom, this is when things plummeted downhill.

Up until last year, all courts but Arthur Ashe stadium had free-for-all seating. This meant you could take your day pass, (which promised reserved seats at Arthur Ashe, the largest stadium) and walk from court to court to watch any game you pleased. At the smaller courts, you could sit in bleachers just a few feet from the players and see their facial expressions or, in Big Juice’s case, their muscle definition. And if you were lucky, you could snag court-side seats at the other two, smaller stadiums: The Grandstand and Louis Armstrong. But in 2016, the Grandstand was revamped as is now happening to Louis Armstrong. Both have been expanded to accommodate more seats, and with this, the rings of prime seats closest to the court at the bottom of the stadium are now reserved.

For Tom, this was just another sign of society moving in the wrong direction. He was furious.

“That’s what was so cool about having the day pass and coming on opening day,” he lamented, “You could go into any court (except Arthur Ashe) and have the chance to see any player up close from the first seat if you got there in time.”

We circled the Grandstand, looking for a loophole down to the prime seats. But those holding reserved seat tickets entered through different entrances, where ticket checkers stood watch.

“Greedy bastards,” he said, “Ruining another perfectly fine sporting event.”

The sun began to set. We had decided to catch one more match before taking the train home, but Tom’s ire told me he changed his mind.

“I refuse to watch another match in here,” he announced, glaring at the Grandstand.

It seemed a bit extreme. Yes the best seats were now reserved, but there was still plenty of perfectly fine non-reserved seating around. A bit further away, sure, but our tickets were free, I reminded him.

“That’s not the point,” Tom had decided, “It’s the principle of it. I refuse to support this.”

And to capture the moment, I snapped a photo of Tom glaring across the Grandstand, now forever a symbol of a regretful capitalist victory, and posted it on Instagram.

“Hashtag suck my nuts,” said Tom.

And with that, we left and watched the rest of the evening’s matches on Tom’s laptop.

Happy Thursday and thanks for reading 🙂

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