My friends told me about a tennis player named Debbie Disco. I did not believe them.
“Debbie Disco plays for the league across town,” said one of my teammates. “I’m sure you’ve met her.”
First: If I met a woman named Debbie Disco, I would not forget her. Second: I was raised by a practical joker Dad, and my three brothers are chips off our dad’s block. I am not easily fooled.
Debbie Disco? That’s like saying Tessa Tango is your aunt. And Walter Waltz lives around the corner. Oh, I can’t forget Beatrice Ballet. She shoots pool at the local pub.
No. Just no.
Growing up, I thought it would have been fun if the Barr sisters in my neighborhood had had a brother named Clark. My husband wanted his high school buddy John Case to name a son Justin: Justin Case. John could have named a girl Charity. Uh-huh. You get it.
I know a few married couples who have the same first names: Terry and Terri and Kim and Kim and Lee and Leigh. That “same name thing” could easily happen to my daughter Jordan.
She’s named for Jordan, a female golfer in The Great Gatsby. A lot of good that did her in elementary school when, if someone said, “Jordan,” the basketball legend was the first and only Jordan that came to mind.
But my Jordan could marry Jordan Somebody or Somebody Jordan. She would then become Jordan Jordan or one of two Jordans in a Jordan union.
But we were talking about Debbie Disco. It seemed that whenever I had a tennis match, that name came up. And when it did, I tried to picture the person I did not believe existed.
In my mind, a tennis player named Debbie Disco wore a multicolored sequined tennis skirt and glitzy court shoes. During warm-up, she bebopped to a playlist of Saturday Night Fever and Donna Summer tunes that streamed through her hot pink headphones.
“Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive…toot, toot, hey, beep, beep…night fever, night fever….”
You think I don’t see you, but I do. You’re movin’ and groovin’—a millisecond shy of dropping to the floor for a full-on spin.
The Debbie Disco in my imagination—her sequins glittering under the sun—drove a ball deep into her opponent’s court. Then she moonwalked across the baseline and put the next shot away.
At a match one evening, I heard one of my teammates say, “They’re still waiting for court three. Debbie Disco is serving for the win.”
“Debbie Disco? The Debbie Disco?” I said, “Where?”
“Over there,” my friend nodded toward a woman with short-cropped dark hair. So petite was she that one might think the slightest billow of wind would lift her across the net.
After she “cleaned her opponent’s clock”—as my dad would say—and exited her court, I caught up to her.
“You are Debbie Disco?” I asked.
“Yes,” she said tentatively.
“I’m Genny McCutcheon. I can’t tell you how h-a-p-p-y I am to finally meet you.”
I am certain she thought I was crazy, but sometimes a girl just has to do, well, what she’s gotta do.
Somewhere in the world, there may or may not be a Paige Turner or a Sue Who or a Barbie Dahl. But there is, without a doubt, a Debbie Disco. Since our meeting, I’ve been honored to play on the same court with her more than a few times.
Her skirts do not shimmer. There’s a definite spark, but no sparkle in her shoes. Still, headphone-less though she is, she does indeed bebop. Not to strands of “Saturday Night Fever” or “Bad Girls,” but Debbie Disco glides effortlessly over the court to the tennis beat of a yellow ball.
writer, blogger, columnist