Apologies to Benny - the chip blog is going to have to wait at least another week...
My brother turned 28 last week. Happy birthday, Mickey!
The Friday before his birthday, his girlfriend arranged just the best birthday party. For a fairly minimal fee, we got 2 hours of curling time. Part of that came with an introduction to curling from one of the club's seasoned veterans. (When we first met him, I thought he might be over-seasoned, but he turned out to be awesome.)
The introduction turned out to be fairly fruitful, actually. When I first heard about that part, I thought it was kind of lame. I didn't think I needed a refresher. But as it turns out, because it had been 15 years since I'd been on a sheet of curling ice, it was good to have that refresher course. Plus there were people in our group who, I don't think, had ever done it at all.
So we got Bob to teach us.
And then we got let loose.
To be perfectly honest, I was disappointed we weren't able to bring beer out into the rink. It would have just added to the fun. Although, allowing alcohol to a bunch of 20 and 30-somethings who are already prone to slipping might not be the best idea. But still: curling is such a Canadian game, why not let us drink?
I curled briefly in high school. I wasn't part of any curling team, or anything. I didn't have enough interest in it then. We did it as part of the phys-ed 30 course, which meant there was about a 3-4 week period where we'd go an learn to curl every other day. It was awesome. When the end of the unit came, it cumulated in a bonspiel. What a ton of fun that was. It made me love the sport.
Now, as I have gotten older, I have learned many things about myself. One of those revelations is that the things I thought were too slow to do when I was growing up (fishing, curling, etc.) are now things I find I really enjoy. (Fun fact: golf might be the slowest "sport" in the history of man, and yet I've loved golf since the day I first tried it…) I liked curling enough in high school. Enough that I had a riot in the bonspiel. But it wasn't something that I ever thought about pursuing.
Now that I'm 32? I want to join a damn league.
I definitely don't have the touch I used to. When I was in grade 12, I had a bit of finesse. I knew just how much I needed to push out of the hack in order to either set up a perfect guard or to throw it right into the house. 15 years later (yikes) I have no finesse. If I was trying to set up a guard, I would likely leave it short of the hog line (much like my stupid cousin/teammate who we'll just call.. "Mac") or if I was trying to put it in the house, I would basically fire it through past the end line (much like my stupid cousin/teammate Mac.)
At least I still looked like I knew what I was doing:
You want to know what was the most revealing part of that day? My muscles are in horrible shape. I honestly feel like I pulled a tricep muscle from all the sweeping I had to do (stupid cousin/teammate Mac.) I know that's not a muscle grouping one has to use a lot, and that's not exactly a common motion, but holy hell did it hurt.
I once pulled a muscle bowling. BOWLING! How is that possible, you ask? Because I get so damned intense playing stupid mindless games like bowling, or curling that I put everything I have into it. (I won the bowling match, for the record.)
Even though this curling game was only 4 ends and it was my brother, stupid Mac and me vs. Ben, Jenna and Tiff, I still didn't want to lose. So when the aforementioned Mac kept shorting his rocks, I would have to sweep my ass off to get the rock over the hog line. As a result, my arm hurt like hell for a week. It's embarrassing.
We ended up losing the game. It was really nobody's fault. Tiff made a couple of stellar shots, as did the rest of her team, I definitely didn't hit the shots I wanted to, neither did my teammates. The best laid plans, etc.
But goddamn if it wasn't one of the most fun two hours I've had in a long time.
You know what else those two hours did? It made my family love watching curling.
Last year Calgary hosted the Briar Cup. I worked a bunch of the games at the Saddledome but I regret not getting tickets and just watching. I love watching curling. I have for a while. I remember a few years ago, flying to Vancouver, there was a curling match on TSN while I was on the plane. I definitely spent the entire flight watching that match.
As Bob was teaching us the basics, he kept saying things like, "when you watch those ladies in Grand Prairie, you'll see them do something like this" (Grand Prairie being the host city of the recently completed Scotties Tournament of Hearts - the female equivalent of the Briar) and we all kind of laughed: "Okay, Bob. As if we're going to be watching that tournament at all." But he was kind of prophetic! On more than one occasion, I got text messages from a family member and somehow it involved, "Watching the STOH." Which I think is awesome. Bob made fans of curling out of a good chunk of my family. Now I don't know how long that love will last, but at least they're enjoying it for now. (Note: "Mac" chose to watch the STOH finals over the Oscars. That's how much he got into it.)
The best part about watching curling, having just spent a couple hours doing it? You get a hell of an appreciation for those pros. The finesse that they have on those rocks is staggering. I could barely get a rock into play and they can finesse a stone around another rock and slide it in right behind. It's phenomenal! Not to mention their double or triple takeouts… Watch this:
Whattttttttttt? That's ridiculous. I can't even.
I think I could curl every day for a year and not be able to make that shot. It's so impressive.
Anyway; it's remarkable what participating in something will do to make you enjoy it all the more. A few years ago, my folks went to Seattle and along with eating at almost every Tommy Douglas restaurant in the city, they took in a Mariners-Red Sox game. With my brother and I being Red Sox fans, Mom decided to cheer for them. She wasn't much of a ball fan before that. I don't think she'd watched more than one total inning in the rest of her life. But she had SO much fun at the game. A lot of it was due to her loving the atmosphere and the people watching. But for the rest of the season, she actually gave a shit about the Red Sox. We'd talk on the phone, and she'd ask what was happening to them (this being 2012, the year they had a catastrophic September and missed the playoffs.) It was so cool to be able to talk baseball with her, even for a season.
That's what this adventure did, I think. It made my family enjoy a cool (both literal and metaphorical) sport, if only for a short period of time. I know that I'll be watching the Brian on TV and I honestly hope that I can be texting siblings or cousins about it because they're watching it too.
It will never be my favourite sport to watch, but damned if I won't keep an eye on the games as they're being played. I mean, why the hell not, right? It still beats watching basketball. (NBA basketball, at least…)
Oh. Massive congratulations to Team Alberta who won the STOH and are now Canada's team! Way to kick some butt, ladies!
Happy Thursday, friends.