On the drive into work the other morning I was lamenting not having any good adventure stories to share. I was coming to grips with having finally reached the bottom of my story well and preparing to settle for sharing quips about the giant mug of water I’ve been drinking daily (well, it is really huge) or maybe some stories of “Sam did the most adorable thing the other day. Get this, she woke up, padded around, got some food and took a nap.”. “I opened AND closed the door today!” (This is actually something to celebrate if we’re talking about the kitchen cabines or the pantry.) “There was this bumper stick you see, said something about “whirled peas”. Get it?” You get the idea – bottom of the story well.
Then it hit me. I vaguely remembered having actually done a few things that I hadn’t shared. (Look, blame Facebook or the times for the overshare of stuff – I personally blame my friends for encouraging me – you can, too!) It appeared that I had actually engaged in… adventures! Adventures that proved I left the house at some point for short stints. Go me! Way to shrug off the hermit rags (which are, for the record, comfy, warm and after a few days you hardly notice the smell).
So, back in February… (I never said this was a recent adventure) I decided to join my friend April for a curling class. You might remember April as the friend who tried to do me in at the Texas State Fair. She’s got a mean streak that borders on homicidal, but is clearly unwilling to explore her own personal orange jumpsuit opportunities, so she cleverly tries to lead me into accidents. This time her ploy involved tennis shoes on ice and a 42 pound stone. You’d think I’d learn better, but as you may have gathered through previous stories I’m rather “bless your heart” naive/goofy. (Southern fact: If you’re in the South and someone says “bless your heart” it’s rarely a kind thing.)
Off I went to the ice rink bundled in my Texas winter attire. For most Texans that’s just long sleeves, but I actually managed a sweater. I’m cold natured! We got a little introduction to the sport and the rules, then off we went to the ice. Now I’d been on this same ice before – back in college for something called broomball – a sport where you smack around a hockey puck with a broom (sans bristles) while in your sneakers. I stayed upright, unlike several other dorm mates – one who had to go to the hospital, but I should confess that I did manage to smack my co-RA’s knuckles to the point that they swelled up pretty nicely. Hey, it’s basically Texas hockey and things got REAL! (It had nothing to do with me spactically flailing around and accidentally hitting someone.)
Since we didn’t have the gear, like their fancy shoes, we were handed a slip cover. It basically amounted to putting teflon on one foot to make it extra glidey (or fall-y depending on your balance). They explained how to throw your stone, use your broom for balance and then get into this contraption to push off. The first guy got in and was flawless. He was the ringer. Then everyone else took their turn with varying amounts of success. Most would get a tiny push, go a few inches, release the stone a few inches and do a small unglamorous pancake on the ice.
Then it was my turn. I was hoping to push a few inches down the ice and with any luck not pancake. I got my feet placed, got down on the ice and realized not only could I not push off, I wasn’t sure I could get back up. I decided it was a great time to panic as I surveyed the 50+ highly successful participants. “Successful” was defined by whether they could get up off the ice and while I realized I hadn’t seen everyone, I knew in my soul they all could. I was the embarrassment of the ice rink! I might actually die out here on the ice unable to leave this spot. Maybe the zamboni could push me to safety? Maybe I’d become a human puck and one day reach the exit? Maybe I could belly crawl to the side, someone could open the little door out and I would once again be on terra firma. It was settled. The last plan was the best. Now how to begin the belly slide that way without drawing any attention. This was going to be difficult.
My little group was now staring and my poor little trainer (who wore possibly the best pants ever if you forget the Norwegian Olympic team) tried his best to help, extending a hand. I couldn’t take it. I knew if I took it, I’d pull him down, too. I did consider that if he were down on the ground, I could use him as a way to get up. This actually wasn’t the worst idea I’d had and it beat living on the ice. Still, I didn’t want to push up with my own hands off the ice, because well… ice is slippery and not meant for stability. I finally got up and declared, “I’m done!” Not in a pouty way. More in a “thank you tons for your time! I’m personally mortified! This is great! I’m going to stand back here and take pictures. No, no, I enjoy taking picture! You’re great! Buh bye!”
Well, it turns out most of the curling club is packed with Canadians who may be the friendliest people on the planet. They weren’t having anyone missing out on the fun, so one of the curling club leaders slid over and offered a solution. A stick! Yes, a stick is a solution. You basically hook it into the stone, step off the same little contraption I couldn’t push off of and release the stone. They gave me a little tutorial so I could get the stone to “curl” and pointed out people in their club who used it regularly for various reason and explained there was no shame in the stick. I had a shameless stick!
I returned to the group with my little stick and I proceeded to heave that stone down the ice every time I had a turn. And I made those little sweepers work it, because by not being challenged by the stance and merely walking out onto the ice, I could make the stone move very quickly and send it down far. I was triumphant! (Well, we’ll end the story here so I can say that and we’ll never mention my sweeping “ability”. Never.)
At the end our group leader with the fabulous pants encouraged each of us to join the club. When I made a face that read like “you kind hearted funny pants wearing man” he cheerfully added , “you, too – several people use the stick method and we’d love to have you.” Bless his heart. I have to admit I did have a moment of “you know, I think I may do it. I’m going to be a curler!” thanks to the people in the club.
And that’s what I did one day in February.
Below is a video from that day. I’m in it. I will never point myself out to you. However, if you still want to see what the rink looked like with a bunch of amateur curlers that I might be among, the news report starts at 23:45.