I am watching a curling tournament on tv right now, it’s at the quarter final stage. Most of the players’ names are familiar to me, although I haven’t been an avid fan for some years now. That’s the longevity of a curling career though- typically old people are better at the game than young are. This is because it takes throwing thousands of rocks to finally be consistent with draws, guards, taps, and hack weight. The power comes from the leg you use to push off from the hack. Speed and strength are not always the answer in curling. More often success is the result of strategy and finesse rather than blasting 3 rocks out of the house at once.
I started curling when I was 11 years old at my parents’ urging. They had begun the sport and figured my sister and I should take it up too. There was a junior league that was well-attended on Sunday afternoons. And so began my Sundays at the curling rink every winter, until I reached age 17 or 18, when I was then working in a restaurant. However, before that happened I played every weekend and also competed in various bonspiels. Some were 1-day spiels and others were intense 2-day competitions. My family curled in family spiels too. At the end of Saturday there would always be a dance at the host curling club. That was pretty fun for a skinny awkward geek like me.
All of the other curlers were children of farmers just like me. The boys were shy and strong. The girls all had the same feathered hair with tight coloured jeans and colourful sweaters. I remember the women’s locker room after the game was a flurry of makeup, hair styling, and putting on our street clothes.
There was always a meal on the Saturday night of a bonspiel too. The ladies of the club typically cooked and served the players. There was even a bartender although all we ever purchased was coke or ginger ale. On the bar was a huge jar of pickled eggs. I’m pretty sure that was just for decoration.
After I had to stop going to Sunday curling I still belonged to the high school curling team. I really enjoyed the sport, since it was social and I turned out to be pretty good at it. I kept curling with the recreation league all through university too. Curling was my ‘thing’, the one sport I was good at.
After I graduated from university I joined a club in the city where I lived. I still enjoyed playing but I felt less and less like I fit in with the other curlers, socially speaking. I was no longer a farmer’s daughter accustomed to moving in social circles of blue collars. Add to that my innate shyness and you have an image of being a stuck up bitch. Whatever dudes, I’m just here to play.
Watching curling now reminds me of my glory days when I was curling 2 nights a week and practising an additional night. I was in the zone then. Sure I could take it up again as a serious hobby, but I can’t dedicate much time to it. Unless I can improve my game (which means at least 2 nights per week) I don’t want to do it at all. Even my mother understands this. I talked to her some time ago about liking curling but having no time for it. I still enjoy watching the pros and thinking back on the Sun Parlour Curling Club, remembering I was really good at something.
P.S. Etsy.com has some very expensive, vintage, horribly-ugly curling sweaters for sale. Ick.