(For those who don’t recognize the joke in the title… here)
Last weekend, while the Los Alamos Derby Dames were holding their Halloween fundraiser party to apparent success, the neighboring league, Duke City Derby, was holding their championship bout. When I mentioned that against all common sense, I’d be putting on the stripes and reffing the matchup, someone employed all the subtlety of a honey badger with a sackful of bricks and requested that I write up this questionably planned plan. Not quite sure how to cover this, but here we go.
First off, I learned it’s important to find out how many bouts are going to be in an event well ahead of time. I found out either the day before, or two days before that this was going to be a double-header. As it turns out, skating for five hours straight puts a bit of a hurt on anything south of the lower back; now in my mental checklist for the future, “double header” means “extra-large bottle of vitamin I and possibly a flask of something stronger”. I’ve got extremely flat feet, and being up for that long and using all the fiddly little muscles for stabilizing an ungainly monkey on wheels… they just stopped screaming this morning.
Now I call this plan questionable for a couple reasons. First, I’ve only been skating since late May, and before that the sum total of time I’ve had wheels on my feet was about 20 minutes when I was 12 or so, where upon I naturally fell directly on my ass, proclaimed “Fuck this,” and returned the skates to my friend in order to go do something not insane, probably involving Mario. Second, I’ve only worn the stripes in anger, as it were, twice before and neither time actually counted. The first was a scrimmage, and the second was a glorified scrimmage with an audience because one team had already forfeited. Nothing that would affect standings, or say, cause a trophy to change hands.
For extra fun, and this time I mean that honestly for a change, this was also their Halloween shindig, so the already somewhat off normal derby crowd was even further off, with kids running around in gas masks with spiked collars*, bondage nuns, painted faces, pleather Optimus Prime microskirted costumes…. it was a little weird.
The first game was the big one, the Disco Brawlers vs. the Dooms Dames. This was kind of neat for me because I’d heard more of the Dooms Dames than seen, so checking out their military-styled uniforms was fairly cool. Then the other penny dropped, and I found out I’d be on outside pack ref. The good news is that means my job would be nearly just symbolic compared to other positions. The bad news is that there were only two of us on the outside, which means a lot of skating, and having to haul ass the whole way because you’re going so much further than the rest of the crowd. Yeah, there was a shitload of this. There was also a water main access thingy of some sort in the middle of the back straight on the track, right at the point where I invariably needed to put on a burst of speed more than normal. During warm up, rolling over the tiny little bowl-depression around this didn’t seem to be a problem. At speed, the damn thing was like seeing the banana peel in the middle of the line you’re taking through a curve in Mario Kart. There is clenching involved.
The other fun part of being on the outside, is that skaters called on penalties will be invading my precious space in order to get to the penalty box. And they’re never happy on the way there, and their entire skating purpose is hitting people. There was a lot of this going on. And seeing one girl you know hits like a truck coming at you at speed, visibly pissed off with the call, doesn’t do your blood pressure any favors. Fortunately she left a whole half inch between me and her on the way by, but I was all set to call the misconduct penalty as soon as I regained consciousness.
That water access and pissed off skaters doesn’t sound like enough fun, you say? Good news! It gets worse! The bench coach for one team had injured herself badly enough to require a wheelchair. Which, since she needed to yell instructions and so forth to her skaters, “somehow” wound up frequently disturbingly close to the track, where us poor outside zeebs were zipping along. I lost the pack more times than I’d care to count or admit trying to get around her gimped ass, and by half time I was asking around to see if anybody had one of those boots they put on cars with too many parking tickets. My skate bag now contains extra strong zip ties to go through wheels. This will not be a problem again.
Overall, I don’t think I did too badly. I know I missed calling some things I should’ve called. One was simply my brain going “derp”- I watched the whole thing, said to myself “Self, that was a low block major,” skated on, and eventually the little light went on to say “….and I was supposed to DO SOMETHING about that! Fuck!” just a skosh too late to call it after all. The flip side, the calls I did make I felt really solid about, so there’s that.
So after the two 90000 minute periods finally were over, the Disco Brawlers took their trophy and victory lap and huzzah hoorah, everybody survived.
Then it got worse.
Between games, there was an exhibition of the worst kids jump-roping ever seen by man. LabRat, who had been bumped out of her non-skating official position for various reasons (we thankfully got her back to working for the second game), was forced to leave the stands to keep from laughing at them, and what I saw after a break in the ref room, I can’t blame her.
The next bout was back to the status of “doesn’t matter,” and off the books. This should be way better, right? Uh, no. First, we lost one ref from the first game, so instead of having enough zebras to field outside pack refs without skating somebody to death, we decided to run with one extra inside pack ref. This is not supposed to happen. It gets crowded. Really crowded. And since the game wasn’t going on any books, the DCD folks announced that they’d be playing on the rules as they were used to them being, not necessarily how they actually are when you check WFTDA. There was a lot of this, without the benefit of the beverage. Fuck it, I don’t know their deviations, so I’m going by what’s in my official rule book. It only caused one spat, and I wasn’t at the center of it anyway, so all good, if weird.
Now add in to this mix a couple skaters I already recognize as being penalty magnets, and mouthy penalty magnets at that (Elvira Mental, if you stumble across this somehow I’m looking at you here :-p ). On the bright side, I wasn’t dodging the wheel chair anymore, but on the downside my overall dodging was increased about 5000% based on the stripe-wearing congestion.
Things went about as you’d expect; stuff was missed because we were all dodging each other, skaters tried to get away with everything short of murder, and then looked butthurt when called on it (Sorry, Kandi Warhol, but when you elbow someone’s face, how did the plan conclude in your head?)
The most memorable point of the night though did come in the second bout. Without bogging down into rules minutia, it was the start of a fresh jam, and one team did not successfully create the situation they were trying to create before the starting whistle. There was still a path on the table to achieve the same goal, but unfortunately, the one skater caught out who could’ve finished the execution didn’t know it, apparently. The other route open to her was to take a penalty. Since it was the start of the jam, and their plan meant nothing would be moving until it came to fruition anyway, this one girl was caught like a deer in the headlights: take a knee, get a penalty, and didn’t see the path to safety just over there**. So at this point, she’s been sort of dancing in a half crouch trying to figure out how to avoid the penalty, wavering between standing up and kneeling. Whistles were poised. A fight could’ve broken out between the jammers and I don’t think we would’ve noticed. She finally opted to just take the penalty, and I tell you it was the Fox 40 Philharmonic. I think the penalty trackers had it written down before we even finished calling it, and we all called it. I felt bad for her, but the deer in the headlights expression with every zeeb staring at her was just hilarious.
And then it was over. And they thanked us! And sounded sincere! And it was like “holy shit, you’re all bi-polar, aren’t you?” And it was awesome!
Then my body told me I just skated for five solid hours with minimal breaks where I was still on wheels just not going hard. That part sucked. A lot. I may need another beer now just thinking about that part.
And that’s how I got out of having to figure out a costume for the derby Halloween party. The end.
*LabRat tells me she believes that particular kid is Pork Chop, the Dooms Dames mascot, and he’s always like that. See what I mean about slightly off normal?
**For those readers who are also derby fans, this was a 126.96.36.199.2 situation. She’d have been fine if she just skated off.