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Squish Squash
by Eric Miller

"The eminent Dr. Squire Bawles, from London, is on the phone," my wife announced with a flourish, as she handed me the receiver.

"What brings you to town, my good friend?" I asked with joy.

"I'm a last minute substitute for a guy who was supposed to give a lecture at the dental convention this week, but primarily because I am so hungry for your wife's cooking."

"That privilege comes with a high price, Squishy," I noted.

"If that price is playing squash with you, it's not high at all, rather very demeaning," he corrected.

"Keep talking like that Squishy, and I'll be the chef."

"Oh God, not that. I guess I can handle shutting you out in a few games, as usual, even though I still have not gotten used to seeing you so humiliated, even after all these years."

"Yeah, yeah, I know you have no bigger ego booster than seeing me flat on my back in defeat on a squash court."

"No, and I never will. How about tomorrow?"

"Okay, meet me at the squash club at four, and then we'll have dinner."

"Be prepared for a whupping."

"Whupping?  Do you use that word over there?

"It's the King's English."

"Holy fish and chips," I cried, "if you'll pardon my American slang."  

Squishy and I attended the same college, and we met for the first time on the college squash courts. He complained that my American balls were too hard. "I must introduce you to my squishy English balls one day," he said, and which he did. But whether our balls were hard or squishy, I always lost. And it was there, in that dimly lit squash court, on the American side of the pond, that the kneeling Squire Bawles was knighted "Squishy," by an American college student who tapped each of his shoulders with a squash racquet.

On our way home for dinner, after I was predictably shut out by Squishy, he couldn't wait to make sure he zinged me with relish by saying "It's a good thing that your wife is such a good cook, or I'd be ashamed to call you my friend, or to even acknowledge that I know you."

Well, that's when I had to pull my trump card to remind him that I was the one who created his unfortunate nickname: the one which still stuck.

"Not only does everyone refer to you by your unfortunate moniker; it's what you call yourself. Sticking you with the name 'Squishy' was an act as powerful as the gods handing that boulder to Sisyphus. It keeps me way atop the scorecard. The prospects of you tying, or even surpassing, the score are grim, very grim indeed. It is the big picture that counts, mon ami, not the numerical discrepancy."

"You may win at verbal hardball, my friend, but your squash play will always be soft and squishy," he cried out with his arms raised in victory.