I cannot believe it's been twelve weeks already - my first session of derby is almost over! Our official
blooper reel scrimmage is on Saturday. As in, four days from now. As in, holy crap, I'm nowhere near ready and what was I thinking when I agreed to this? Last Thursday was our first practice scrimmage with real refs and officials - they had stopwatches, whistles, a whiteboard to keep track of our penalties, and really loud voices. I think the whiteboard is what intimidated me the most. We had to have shirts with our names and numbers on them, and because I'm so crafty, here's what I created: I thought I looked pretty bad ass, until the refs kept calling me "Thirty-six-zero-zero". I wanted to yell at them that they were totally missing my point, but I was too busy trying to figure out why they were blowing their whistles and pointing at me in the first place. I now know that when they scream your number and point at you, you shouldn't stare blankly at them and continue skating; you should just go right to the penalty box. That's helpful to know.
Having the refs, officials, and a handful of veteran skaters there was really overwhelming and intimidating. Having my sister and four other friends from college there was even more intimidating. The Other Sisters (Bone Senior, Erin, Barbie, Andi, and Gloriana) were in town for a girls weekend, and they came to support my cause, also known as Please Help Me Prove to the Red Rockettes That I Really Do Have Friends in Real Life. I was so excited to have them there, but it totally shook me up because I wanted so badly to be good. I wanted to dart around the track, doing crossovers and knocking people over - instead I teetered through the pack, mostly keeping my head down and trying to stick to the inside line. I did so well at sticking to the inside line, that later on Bone Senior asked me, "Are you allowed move around the track? Or are you supposed to stay in the same spot the whole time?" Fail.
Besides trying to keep up with the refs and rules, there were some vets there that completely schooled us. One girl, who we referred to as "No Pants" (but if I had a butt like her, I'd wear no pants too) (and she wasn't really wearing NO pants; she just had teeny little booty shorts) was unstoppable, except by our Fresh Meat Mamas. She was all over the place, getting her no-pants-booty in everyone's face, stopping on a dime, running on her skates. I'm still trying to get the hang of stopping, let alone RUNNING. She was amazing, she was on the other team, and she was crushing us.
Then there was Pushy (who's name I always say in my head with a Sean Connery accent. Try it. Pushy. Isn't that fun?). She's a vet that I haven't skated with before, she was on my team, and she totally kicked my butt. When Pushy and No Pants were out at the same time, it was pretty much them duking it out in front, and the rest of us trying to stay together in a pack. I was trying really hard to keep up and figure out what I should be doing, and I thought I was doing okay until Pushy called me over on the sideline and we had a moment like unto this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tPqYnC-SW5w&feature=player_detailpage
Ok it really wasn't that bad, but in my head, that's how I felt. And Pushy had every right to make sure I knew which team I was on, because I sure wasn't skating like I knew which team I was on. Apparently she was yelling directions at me on the track, but I was too busy sucking up the drool from my mouthguard and staring blankly at the refs to notice that she was actually trying to teach us.
Needless to say, after a few rounds, our team was pretty discouraged - and we have some really amazing skaters. Phoenix is one incredible jammer who looks like she's been doing derby for years, but she really gets down on herself. Blue is another girl who takes a beating and just gets right back up and keeps skating. Some of her falls made me wince just watching them, but she got up every single time. Lisa always has a smile on her face, even when she fell and someone skated over her fingers. Someone SKATED. Over her FINGERS. And she didn't even wince. Then there's me, who gets the what-for ONE TIME and I just about had a meltdown.
During the break, I skated over to the bleachers and said to Bone Senior, "Please don't let me cry in front of all these girls!" I was feeling so discouraged, so worthless to my team, we were losing by like five hundred points, and I just wanted to give up. I could feel my lower lip trembling and the lump in my throat was burning - I clenched down on my mouthguard as hard as I could to try and stop the tears from coming.
I took some deep breaths just as England and Manna skated over to me, and I was blinking furiously, trying to convince myself that I could convince them that pffffft of course I'm not crying, I'm just doing my overly-blinky Hugh Grant impression. Just like when I stumble on the track during warm-ups, and I try to convince everyone that there's a pebble or debris on the floor, not that I'm just skating out of control. Sometimes I even stop and go back to the spot where I stumbled and scour the ground, searching for the trip hazard, both warning and saving other skaters from peril. I make sure everyone knows, "THERE'S SOMETHING ON THE TRACK HERE! WATCH OUT!"
England and Manna asked how I was doing - I think they politely ignored the obvious fact that there were tears welling up in my eyes - and they gave me a pep talk. They told me not to get discouraged, that the first scrimmage always the hardest, and they assured me that I was not the top spinning out of control that I imagined myself to be. These girls are really my heroes - they are so encouraging, patient, and reassuring. Wanton will not let you give up - she forces you to just try. England is so good about breaking things down so that we can understand. Manna cracks jokes to make me feel less inept and to remind me that we are there to have fun. I look at the Fresh Meat Mamas as this unattainable goal - I want to be them out on the track, and they make me believe that someday, I can.
Today is not that day, and Saturday won't be that day either; but for now, I've finished my first session of Roller Derby, and I'm going to keep at it. I'm going to keep trying to force the Red Rockettes to be my BFF's and I'm going to keep trying to get a butt like England and No Pants. Andrea (my co-lover of all things unicorn) says it best in her blog and sums up all of the reasons why I love skating with this group.
Wish me luck for Saturday's scrimmage...