We are non-commercial, all volunteer and supported by our readers. Please help sustain the Dew by making a donation.
Rookie at Roller Derby
For a redneck boy born at home, I’ve seen a lot. Sang at the Junior Talent Show, caught the last out, been carried off the field by a victorious football team, and flown solo. I’ve watched auto racing on Friday night at Freeman’s Short track, Saturday afternoon at Holiday Beach drag strip, and Sunday at Talladega. I have been a spectator for minor league baseball, low rent rodeo, ice hockey in three different southern states, and boxing.
My list of happenings includes the New Orleans Jazzfest, West Alabama State Fair, the Okra Strut, a spelling bee, quilting bee, hog killing, and a chicken fight. A few Saturday nights ago I checked off another momentous accomplishment; roller derby. I can now die happy; be promoted to glory with nary a whimper.
I expected roller derby people to be different; imagined a collection of characters similar to a tractor pull or monster truck rally. Lots of John Deere caps, overalls, and Confederate flags; sort of like a Jim DeMint fundraiser. Instead I was exposed to black shirts, day-glo hair, and tattoos, lots of tattoos. More like the prelude to a Korn concert, or possibly a flash mob of southern Hipsters in training all mixed together with a lot of upstanding American folks.
The veteran derby spectators exhibited passion; not quite as much as the average SEC football fan, but much more than an Ivy League alumnus. The awaiting crowd was even tailgating, seriously tailgating. I saw one trailer-based cooker that was bigger than my bathroom.
Actual participants were obviously minor league, just like beginning baseball and hockey players. Young in appearance but hardened in the eyes, these ladies came to do their best, and pursue the same dream all young athletes, singers, and actors chase after.
Everyone had an assumed name, even the referees and coaches. And they could all skate, which is a prerequisite for this sport. Maybe this is where Sonic waitresses go when they become proficient.
In the prelim, two local groups battled back and forth until the Spawn of Skatin’ ran away with the match at the end. Anyone sporting that name should be declared a winner regardless of the sport. The Columbia Quad Squad battled the Honky Tonk Heartbreakers from Texas in the raucous main event and the talent difference was obvious from the first whistle. The pace was faster and the performers were more athletic and more experienced.
Like pro wrestling, roller derby supposedly has a script and a pre-determined ending well before anyone gets hot enough to break a sweat, even in Famously Hot Columbia. Few spectators understood the rules enough to verify that, but no one seemed to care.
The folks paid their hard earned money to see young girls skate against each other, knock one another down, and work together for a common purpose. That several of the skaters looked rather appealing while competing didn’t hurt anything. No one was asked to declare their reason for attending. Price of admission and enthusiasm were the only requirements for entry. The spectators saw something else very familiar; impressionable young folks dreaming big and starting small, going full bore while ignoring the odds against ultimate success.
I enjoyed the show for the most part although unflinchingly hard bleachers and an insufficient cooling system chased me away just as the home team in the main event built an insurmountable lead that everyone knew would be surmounted. A good time was had by all.
We live in confrontational times. People try to convert others to their religion for no other reason than it is what they are comfortable with, scream at one another because they think the whole world will explode into oblivion unless everyone accepts their version of how things should operate, and banish loved ones simply because they won’t live up to unfair expectations.
It is refreshing and increasingly rare to see a group of people gather in unison without requirement or argument, regardless of the occasion. No rules, no dogma, and no unreasonable expectations to deal with. Just young girls with assumed names skating their pretty little butts off and a roaring crowd enjoying the spectacle.
Let’s enjoy it while we can.
Worthy of Comment
Also on the Dew
Grandpa was not a storyteller. It was only later, when Grandma wasn’t around, that he told me a few stories about his life and parents. He never talked about the hard times during the Great Depression, but he said enough to encourage me in later life to research his family history. When he died all of Grandma’s and Grandpa’s personal things, letters and photographs were given to my older cousin because she was the only granddaughter. By the time I became interested in our family history everything had been thrown away except some old photographs. I started the long and frust Read on →
At eleven years-old, the most infuriating thing about trying to “apply yourself” is the universe doesn’t always cooperate. Take the situation which I'm smack in the middle of the evening of Tuesday, September 10, 1962. Blindsided by Sister Jean, Sixth Grade teacher at Our Lady of the Pines Catholic School with a very first day assignment to write 500 words all about “What I Learned This Summer,” I’m stumped. Fully…totally …and absolutely! I don't think I've written 500 words TOTAL since First Grade. And as if I don't have problems enough already, the &%$#& thing is due Friday! I can’t think of one thing I’ve learne Read on →
Wall Street likes it simple: promote bull markets; avoid bear markets. But there's now an elephant on Wall Street, and few are daring to talk about it. In you hadn't noticed, the market has been essentially flat for a year; that is until it cratered last week, losing 18 months worth of gains. Unlike the crash of 2008, there's no obvious smoking gun. I'm no economist, but I've been reading the economic tea leaves for quite some time. On July 13, 2015, Paul Gilding published a riveting article in Australia's REnewEconomy titled "Fossil Fuels Are Finished -- The Rest Is Just Detail." We're Read on →
I think of myself as a realist. A diehard realist. I believe I am truly a child of the Age of Reason. But can reason explain all things, unlock all mysteries? Don’t think so. My Uncle Lehman, for instance, my Aunt Mary Grace’s husband, could talk warts off. As I write this, I can see you shaking your skeptical head. Well, I didn’t believe it, either. Nor did Meredith, my first wife, who once was his “patient.” But he did it anyhow, and it couldn’t be called faith healing, for the subject’s disbelief was no deterrent to the cure. You ready for this? We go by their house one night in Read on →