When you think of Las Vegas, you think of casinos, blackjack tables, slot machines, floor shows and Wayne Newton. And ping pong.
That's right, ping pong has gone to Vegas.
They say we are scaling back our travel, entertainment and consumption these days in light of the bad economy. Ping pong that can draw a crowd in Vegas is proof that we have officially become more sedate.
A lot of people think of ping pong as a basement game for nerds.
A lot of people are wrong.
Ping pong is a dangerous and violent sport involving partial nudity. At least it was the last time we played.
Everything we know about ping pong we learned at the Huas.
The Huas were our neighbors years ago. They were an extremely intelligent Chinese couple with two young sons. I gave their oldest boy piano lessons and they worked with our boy on math.
They invited us over for burgers one night. Their youngest, who was then 2, had been circumcised earlier that day in the family's on-going effort to blend with American culture. He was running around with a long shirt on, naked beneath it so that, although covered, his sore and tender parts could still breathe free.
After dinner, our hosts invited us to the basement to play ping pong. It sounded fun and, frankly, the husband and I weren't half bad at ping pong.
We served. Our hosts returned with a spin that ricocheted off the table and made an indentation on the basement wall. When they served, the ball blew past us and lodged in their furnace intake.
We weren't half-bad, we were horrible.
We then suggested that our hosts play each other and we would watch. He served with a wicked spin; she returned with a scorching slam.
A white meteor shot from one side of the table to the other. Between hits they began lunging into the air, spinning a full turn and screaming, "NO MUSSY!"
It was hard to hear above the five kids yelling, including the little one with the long shirt who would periodically stop running to say, "Ouie," but we eventually realized they were screaming, "NO MERCY!"
"NO MUSSY!" WHAM!
I took cover behind a small love seat and sheltered the children, all except the semi-naked one that continued running circles around the ping pong table.
"NO MUSSY FOR YOU!" SLAM!
They played the ball from the edge of the table, the middle of the table and under the table.
BAM! "NO MUSSY!"
Eventually the ball went up in a puff of smoke and a small piece of melted plastic smoldered on the ping pong table.
Never had we seen ping pong played with such force. Never had we seen football, rugby, ice hockey or nuclear tests played with such force.
We are not surprised that ping pong went to Vegas. Sure, they'll have to spice up the game's allure (perhaps put players in women's Olympic beach volleyball uniforms), but it is just a matter of time before ping pong outgrows Vegas and becomes a worldwide phenomenon with matches on pay-per-view.
If anyone named Hua is on the player list, we are definitely watching.