After the Ping Pong Ball Bounced
|Title:||After the Ping Pong Ball Bounced|
|Fandom:||Starsky and Hutch|
|External Links:||After the Ping Pong Ball Bounced|
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It was published in Hanky Panky #9, The Collected Starsky and Hutch Stories of Alexis Rogers, and is online.
Reactions and Reviews
I don't like to get into criticizing stories, but part of AFTER THE PING PONG BALL BOUNCED really bothers me. Minor point first: in SRev, Dobey called Hutch after Starsky went into cardiac arrest. No way the doctor would or could have been around saying he had only an hour to live. But what bothers me most is Edith. Even from the little we saw of her, I can't believe that she would be such a meddling busybody, and a bigot, to boot. She seemed to be an intelligent and sensible woman in her episode. Her attitude -- "Who knows what these kind get up to?" -- is not only ungrammatical, but pretty damned cold for a woman who supposedly cares so much for the men involved. I see heavy auctorial manipulation here -- she can either objectify strangers or care for friends, but not have it believable both ways. As for the meddling, "none of her business" doesn't begin to cover what she's ddng here. Just the fact that S&H are policemen and she is their Captain's wife means there has to be a certain distance in the friendship. Even Huggy would be entirely wrong to do what she does. Most of all, though, it would be Hutch's prerogative, and no one else's to sort through the remains of their life together, if Starsky had died. No matter how much it would hurt, it couldn't help but hurt worse to think that anyone had pawed through and even thrown away what few bits and pieces of their private lives were left after Hutch's heart and soul had been ripped away. I don't see how Hutch could ever forgive her, if Starsky really had died. The writer made me hate Edith. I don't believe that was her intention. 
It hadn't occurred to me to wonder where Edith was in SREV, but then I haven't seen any of the episodes she appeared in, either. The only quarrel i have with the characterization of Edith is her thought: "Who knows what these kind get up to?" It's so harsh and condemning, so (to me at least) out of synch with the rest of her thoughts and feelings concerning Starsky and Hutch. She's there because she loves them and doesn't want to see them hurt. Like Edith, though, I would like to know what they did with those rings and beads. 
I especially want to comment on AFTER THE PING PONG BALL BOUNCED by Libby, Lorane and Alexis. Truly a novel idea. I never even thought of Edith when I watched this episode, but if you think about it she was noticeably missing. It was written so realistically that you could almost feel her embarrassment as she unveiled Starsky's personal things. I wasn't sure if Dobey was aware of S&H's relationship, or rather she just sensed it being more intuitive than he. I'm sure that they appreciated her concern but I bet they might be somewhat embarrassed being around her again. That might make a good sequel, authors. Anyway, a very, very nice story. 
The prize for the story in worst taste goes to AFTER THE PING PONG BALL BOUNCED. I cannot go into a dissection of why I found this piece so objectionable -- it isn't badly written, but it is ill-conceived. Voyeuristic? I'm never very good at saying why I like or dislike something. It's a gut feeling. 
AFTER THE PING PONG BALL BOUNCED was such an interesting and different look at S/H. A brilliant idea if I may say so. For me there was so much depth and emotion in this story. However, I do have a few problems concerning it. Maybe I sound dumb, but I have a motto that says, if you don't know, ask. So here goes. Please, what is a tube of K-Y? I have a good idea of course and what its use would be, but I'd like to make sure I've got it right. Also, I didn't quite see the significance of the silver beads or the leather bound can marked 'Crisco' or the disposable enemas but I'd love to know. Is there anyone helpful or brave enough to explain? I feel kinda stupid asking but I'm sure I can't be the only one who's a little in the dark over this. 
Libby, CJ Lorane and Alexis, you must be congratulated, what a beautiful and unusual story, filled with S/H love and Mrs. Dobey's love for them. Any more gems like this please? 
I realize that the fiction in HP is not expected to be polished to gem-like quality, but I was really taken aback by a couple of the pieces in the last issue. "After the Ping Pong Ball Bounced" was...inexplicable. It struck me as the most contrived story I've ever ploughed through, populated by characters I'd never want to meet. First, and least, we have Edith Dobey, the not-too-latent voyeur and general all-around dodo. Even in Zorba the Greek the old crones waited until Dame Hortense died before they stripped her room bare. But, it does serve as a rather obvious plot device to enable the authors to catalog as many sex toys as possible in the shortest amount of space. Then there's Hutch, the guy who once screamed at Starsky for attempting to throw out a crummy rosebush pole from the back seat of his car, calmly thanking dodo, uh, Edith, for pawing through his most intimate belongings and dumping a good portion of them in the garbage. Who are these people? Who cares. 
This is an interesting approach. The first part showing Hutch's loneliness and fear fits right in with his conviction that Starsk would die. The Edith section, however, is a surprise. I'm not sure she'd be quite that high-handed even in the name of love, but apparently Hutch understood and accepted her interference, so the story works within that frame. 
ATPPBB at least was an attempt to do something different (voyeurism, yeah, I know... I won't get into that. I personally didn't see it that way, but maybe my tastes are just weird.)... I'm not going to get into a discussion of that, because I don't feel qualified to, but I will say this: I can see where some people might have been put off by Edith's characterization in this one. However, let's be fair -- we saw Edith exactly once on S&H, and that episode didn't tell us much about her except that she was hysterical most of the time (understandably). It really didn't tell us much at all about her feelings for, or her relationship with S&H. Therefore, given so little to work with, I should think that ANYBODY'S interpretation of her character would be equally valid. 
I always enjoy her writing... Why this must be read: Set around Sweet Revenge, it encompasses the pain Hutch was feeling and the past he and Starsky shared. Edith Dobey sets out to do a favor for her friends, not adding to the bigotry but hoping to save them the pain of it in their time of need. The memories of a love shared brings hope that a future can be shared as well. 
Response from One of the WritersIn Hanky Panky #11 (1984), C.J. Lorane states her real name, explains how and where this story was written, and offers her opinion for fans who have provided feedback. An excerpt:
The Edith-did-it portion of Ping Pong Ball is by debut offering under my S/H pen name of C.J. Lorane. What an overwhelming reception! Thank you for the easy-to-a-new-writer-to-understand feedback. I especially appreciated the restrained and tender treatment from those I inadvertently offended with aspects of my story. Now that I'm not terrified no one will will enjoy my erotic fantasies, I'll do better next time. One fan suggested I share some of the genesis of PPB's Edith, after she learned of my experiences with women in similar situations. Yes, a story was written by each of 3 attendees at a 5-day S/H houseparty, following a nearly all-night debate about Edith's activities during Sweet Revenge. I thought a little editing for "universe" consistence might allow us to put the stories side by side. Special thanks to Alexis for allowing us a slot in her Cost of Love timeline. [much about close relationships in the police force, anti-gay articles in newspapers] In light of the above, Edith's absence hinted at a story. I really wanted my Edith to be a strong feminist. But, in her Phyllis Schlafly pink-clone shirtwaist dress, her immaculate upper-middle class white color looking home and her "mainstream" accent, I could make her behave like the black radical feminists I have known. She typifies the wives I have known of the very few black professionals who have "made it" into management in the military, police, and government service. These women are gracious, well-groomed, image conscious, usually openly religious, super behind-my-man... There's nothing wrong with these women, in my view, but they are certainly not likely to march in a Gay Freedom Day parade or urge their husbands to buck an LAPD tradition like homophobia. I also considered Dobey's pleasure at having his "best boys" back on the force when he is up against such a powerful enemy as Gunther and Co., and Edith would know something of the case. Therefore, I I concluded that her role would be to "manage" any social events in connection with Starsky's funeral, and that she would do what I have seen other "enforcement" or "military" wives do. What Dobey's response to her was, when in bed asks, "Dear, what was in the box?" got edited out to meet HP's space requirements. With a little encouragement.... Anyway from your comments I should have clarified that Edith was talking to herself in referring to "those kind" of people as a humorous way of distancing herself from what she was seeing. She considered tubes of K-Y lubricating jelly and in-print paperbacks replaceable, and the other personal items (see your Pleasure Chest Catalogue) she hid for Hutch to dispose of when he had time, O librarians, forgive my sin of tossing books! 
Response to the Author's Letter
I've had a devil of a time trying to answer your letter - mostly because I can't figure out what to argue about first. I, too, wasn't happy with your characterization of Edith, but since there was no background for your thoughts on her given, I was willing to go along with the writer's opinion (except for the gratuitous trashing of other people s personal effects, but I knew that was a personal reaction on my part). Now however I have read your explanation of Edith, and I'm losing my mind. Did you really mean to imply that only a black woman who dressed hip was flip, and kept a sloppy house could qualify as a person who accepted alternative life styles? Did I really read that Edith's pink housedress and lack of "ghetto" accent made her into a nasty minded bigot? I was forced to conclude that, since I am an Army brat, since I have been involved with death in that tradition since my own father was one of the "powers that be" in his job, and since I know far more black "paramilitary" people than the few you allude to in your letter... that you have met only the most insensitive of blacks or that you have grossly misinterpreted events. A commander, black or white, will go through the personal effects of a person killed in the service (there are certain things that, do not need to be sent to the bereaved). Wives, including my mother, have been asked or have volunteered to "clean up the house" of a woman who has died on a military base (I don't know one who has simply gone to do so, especially before the body was cold) - but while any one of them would have tossed out the moldy gravy or last week's garbage, I don't know one, black or white, who would have tossed out the birth control pills, the Japanese pillow book, or even the rather tasteful little leatherette suit...