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Friday, December 20, 2013

An Old Newspaper Column, On Curling...

Despite the title, this old selection from my former weekly newspaper column run is NOT about housecleaning. It may be more relative to my Canadian readers, as it is about curling.

Not curling your hair, curling the page of a book - curling, the sport.

Yes, curling is a sport, it's even in the Olympics!!

OK, it's very similar to bowling, in some aspects....

Look, why don't you just read the damn thing, and see if it makes sense afterwards????


Man With Broom

One fine wintry day not so very long ago, I found myself standing on a shiny sheet of manufactured ice. I was about to curl.

The last time I had touched a curling broom, Pierre Elliot Trudeau was probably in his first term in the Prime Minister’s office, and the only mad cows you were likely to find were the shocked and surprised herd that had erroneously found themselves standing in the luggage department of our local Eaton’s store. Needless to say, standing on that shiny sheet of freshly-pebbled ice, I couldn’t help but wonder if I still had my old junior-high school curling chops. 

It only took my first attempt at launching one of the stones to jog my memory - I never, ever had curling chops…I did manage to break the ice though. Not with my teammates and opponents; I literally broke the ice-which apparently is nowhere near as resilient as a bowling lane when a heavy object is thrust upon it with substantial force... 

Thankfully the damage was well behind the “house” (a spartan bungalow, with neither walls nor roof), so it would not affect the play. Truth be told, nothing would have affected my play. By the third game, I found myself giving the rocks little pep talks, in the benign hope they may start to perform like the talented and wondrous curling stones employed by all the other teams. No dice… 

Curiously, this curling sport has all kinds of unique vocabulary. There are hash marks, buttons, hog lines, and that oddly-named “house” just to name a few. I did manage to embrace most of the lingo after a couple of ends, but I was just a little embarrassed to discover that what everyone else had been shouting was “HARD!!” when they wanted their teammates to sweep aggressively. I misunderstood, assuming everyone was imitating pirates, and hollering “RRRRRR!!!”.  This was, of course, entirely foolish, and once I was enlightened, made it infinitely easier to watch the curling stones, without having to squint one eye and holler like Long John Silver at a buccaneer spelling bee... 

Hey, pirates could have invented the game, what did I know?? 

One thing I did observe was that curlers have to be the most polite competitors ever to play an organized game. Unlike hockey or football players, curlers commence all their matches with handshakes and best wishes, and constantly comment on how well you’re doing. 

“Nice Shot”   

“Good Line”

“Hey, that one stayed on the right sheet of ice this time!”  

I had started the tournament hoping to intimidate, or psych out the other teams. When I saw everybody else leaning on their brooms between shots, I hoisted mine up over my shoulder, like a jumpy lumberjack on his last nerve. Didn’t matter, all the other curlers remained relentless in their ongoing well-wishes:

“Nice stance!”

“Great concentration!”

“Your skip just tried to trade you to my team for a bag of flour and some nachos…”

By the end of the event, our team even failed to make last place. Astoundingly, someone was worse than us. What the heck, it was all good fun, and I’m sure I’ll be invited back next year. “We’ll call you” is probably more of that unique curling lingo…




Mrs That Dan Guy said...

Good one Mr. Curling, a very odd sport indeed. But somehow, I always seem to get caught up in watching it during the Olympics. Kinda catchy.

ThatDanGuy said...

Like bowling, on ice....