the perfect serveMy friend Keith relates a good conversation to a tennis match, a respectable volley, the ball of conversation moving artfully back and forth. His analogy brought back childhood memories of a tennis match, a pretend one… kind of like many of our conversations that we engage in daily; fake and take…

The director stood in front of the metal bleachers barking orders to the extras on the set. I remember thinking his job would have been a whole lot easier if he’d have had a lick-uh-sense. No wonder he never got to be famous… He coached the extras that beat me to the punch and would get to be in the movie. It was a bush league type of movie made for TV back in the seventies, but I wanted to be in it… regardless the amount of cheesy.

The director was standing on the tennis court coaching the cast to shift their eyes and noggins left to right  on his command. It was ugly. I wondered why he didn’t just have a couple of people play catch with a real tennis ball? Then again, I was just a late movie extra wanna be, not a big shot Hollywood director.

Karen Valentine waved kindly, Tom Jones did some slight bow, rolling his hand in front of himself in a circular motion. Despite my age, I immediately sensed the Hollywood Squares bound Valentine was nice. Mr. Jones, well, he was too full of himself to have room for anybody else in his world.

The Podunk small town people living along the Colorado River couldn’t even shift their eyes and heads in unison… much less sing “Delilah” like Mr. Jones who never really parlayed his singing success into an acting career. The left to right head and eye shifting was to be used later in editing as the people watching the tennis match in the future movie flop.

Many of us carry on our conversations like that fake volley. As Keith would say, our words are part of the act and some folks are just looking for automatic ball machines, someone to be the device that sends over the net the perfect serve. I think we’re all guilty from time to time, but there are people, and no shortage of them calling themselves Christian, that live their lives treating others as if they were ball machines; only there to serve them.

These are the same people who can share with you their great wisdom of everybody else’s shortcomings, finely disguised as if they gave a hoot about anybody but themselves.

It’s not a bad thing to be a ball machine for others, after all, we all need one every now and then, but I’m referring to the ones who love to share and converse… as long as it’s their opinion being heard and the volley of words are for their benefit. These are the type of folks that wear the compassionate… and tear the church.

I recently ended a relationship with someone like that. It was like pretending to be involved in a good conversation volley, it was fake. The person was like the director and I was the over used ball machine… severely in need of maintenance from the Tom Jones persona.

At some point, we just gotta empty out our tennis shoes… and find a more evenly matched partner who can return a volley… with a backspin of wisdom.