The Tennis Partner
I sensed that he reached for the tennis the way I did, looked forward to our twice-a-week dates. This kind of tennis was healing, the rhythm of our to-and-fro drill perhaps as salutary as the church service he had missed. (P168)
Tennis was so much more than a game. What you saw—four people, a ball, and lines that determined whether a ball was in or out—was but an illusion. (P27)
At Wimbledon, they used white balls for the longest time.
The white ball was difficult to see on television. At times, during a point, your eyes lost it completely. Still, when that happened, your mind projected ahead, gave the ball a position in space based on the location of the player, the speed of the swing, the tilt of the racket face at contact, the sound of the ball coming off the strings, and the shape of the follow-through. But you could never define exactly where it was. [...]
What relief then when the ball, after this disappearance of a few milliseconds, appeared again. [...] I loved this separation-and-reunion feeling. It reminded me of what I loved about medicine: how a patient's words and the clues the body gave you were coordinates for a disease lurking below. The art of diagnosis was to plot the trajectory of the invisible disease and then, like a mongoose, feint, coax the serpent into striking, sidestep the fangs, and seize it behind the head, where it could do no more damage. (P37)
Keep the ball in play. Keep your eye on the ball. Follow through. These were admonitions for both tennis and life, and they spilled over from the one into the other. (P92)
The two third-year students had no particular reason to be tense, but they had picked up the mood of their seniors, as if this were the right posture to adopt. So far the students' only introduction to clinical medicine had been a physical diagnosis course in Lubbock; for practice they had, for the most part, examined one another. [...] Now here they were with brand-new coats, their pockets stuffed with flashlights, stethoscopes, reflex hammers, and little "peripheral brains"--condensed versions of the bigger tomes they were supposed to read at night. They looked much like first-time skiers who had managed to get onto the ski lift, but now, as the crest of the mountain appeared, still had to figure out how to get off and not fall flat on their asses. (P66)
"Within your secrets likes your sickness." (P341)
"He isn't exactly innocent, Mickie," I said. "You know that, don't you?"
"Ah, but he is, Abraham. He isn't innocent about the world. In fact, he knows too much about the world. Yet he knows nothing about himself." (P232)
If I was ever going to turn him in, the moment for that had passed. The fact that I was debating what to do, engaging in a dialogue with him, gave me away: I had already capitulated. It was surprising now to realize that being his senior in the medical-school hierachy really meant nothing. When the heat was on, as it was now, the role that we had both slipped into, that defined us, was that of friends, equals. His superiority on the tennis court or mine in the hospital were superflouous. It was because I was his friend that he had replied honestly when I'd asked him if he had used.