- Pick up the shuttlecock.
- Throw it in the air.
- Hit it over to the other side of the net and, unlike tennis, hope your opponent hits it because it's the best kind of meditation.
Vedic healing what? Yoga, uhhhh. Transcendental meditation? All of them can take a backseat to learning the basic rules of badminton: the only way I was able to get through the summer of '95 without gaining 800lbs between first and second grade. Badminton is healing, it's less strain on the body and on the soul.
Tennis is stressful. It's too competitive. Tennis is the little sister to squash while badminton sits in the corner reading Le Petit Prince, dreaming of a world in the clouds. It's so relaxing that when I even talk about it, I feel relaxed. I don't like games and I don't like sports, so when my dad would rent out a two-net badminton court, I'd go to play for its calming atmosphere.
Badminton is a stress-killer. I was a stressed child, whether I knew it or not. I took everything to heart, was wounded easily, and I thought of things differently to the way the other kids at school did. These days, I look at the kids diagnosed with Asperger's and wonder, but whatever the way or the day, I loved those mornings on the court.
The summer sport of '95
The high school gym in our little town would open its doors during the weekends but in summer, they would be open six days a week. It made for low gym prices for the adults and a way to get us kids off the street and away from being square-eye addicted to our video games.
Some afternoons, my dad got to work from his office at home. He used to sit me down and say, "It pays to be your own boss!" and still does. These days though, as my own boss, I point out that he'd say that because he could meet up with his pals for some racquet sports and chill. It worked out for me because then, I could go along and play it too.
One day I would be on his team, the next I would be on the opposite side, but I was good, and he and my mom always knew what to gift me: Various colored badminton rackets. I lived for them; teal, purple, and baby pink. I don't think I ever stopped loving badminton. It just started getting harder to make time and it faded out during the fall only to return the next summer with fervor.
The Summer Sport of '95
The basic rules of badminton are as follows:
1-3) There are no rules.
Technically, yeah, there are rules, but I don't know or care for them. To me, if you miss hitting the shuttlecock back over the net, then your opponent gets the point. Think tennis with no end. Once you get into a routine of hitting it back and forth between two or four people, it becomes muscle memory. There is no thinking, it's all simply doing.
Tennis can get loud. These days when I head to the gym, if there are people on the squash courts or the indoor tennis courts, you hear them grunting. It's as if they are pulling a truck. Unsure as to which tennis player did it first, but I swear watching TV when I was younger, they didn't. Well, the casual players have caught up to it. Nobody told them it's cool to make those noises when you're intimate with somebody but not there, not on the court. God forbid.
Badminton has soft sounds. The light thud of rubber shuttlecock against the webbing of the racket is one of this world's greatest, unsampled sounds. Even the click of the thin plastic before it hits the ground is great. It's just relaxing. Maybe it helps with my circadian rhythms or something but whatever it is, calms me down in a heartbeat.
Badminton in High School
Racquet sports were a better alternative to the hell that was Phys Ed. Phys Ed. was not my bag. I wasn't a runner or a soccer player or a basketball player, and at 219lbs of anti-muscle, I sure as all hell was no gymnast. On the days the teacher would put aside for trampolines and handstands, he'd always have us set up some mats and a net at the other end of the gym. He'd do that and send us kids who hated his class over to the net. It was an understanding. Made it easier for all parties, and it gave more credit to the girl who could do three backflips before landing perfectly, two feet on the ground.
I had no problems with being branded as one of the kids who hated sports. It was the truth, I was. I hated all sports except for badminton, and the fact he'd prefer we did some sort of physical activity during class instead of sitting to one side in our gym shorts and non-badminton shoes, moping like the adolescents we were. Since we got to play badminton, we did get to stay active, and it made me stop skipping that hour-and-a-half last period Thursday.
If our high school had a badminton team or a badminton league or something, I would have been all over it. I relate badminton to being happy and calm, so I don't get affected if I lose. There's no table to flip like in chess and no bigger-than-me jock to punch and further enrage; there was just me, a couple other losers like me, and a badminton net between us.
Now that I'm older, I can't seem to find anyone else who likes the sport as much as me. (And I know guys who wrongly consider bowling a sport.) I find it sad. For them, mostly. Because the fun of badminton is that there are no losers. Every player is a winner.