Somewhere mid-Olympics I decided I wanted to be an Olympic curler. Not because I particularly like the sport, but because it looked like I could get good enough at it in the next four years to make it to the Big Show, still drink, and probably not break any bones during practice. Luckily for me, the Nutmeg Curling Club is just a hop, skip, and a jump from PrissyBitch’s house in Bridgeport.
We registered for one of their open-houses, expecting to be there with a handful of other people, learning and playing from 7-10 p.m. That is not what happened.
I decided early on that I was going to have a Drunken Winter Sports Theme for the night. So, after I got home from work, I hopped on my Wii with a beer, and played my Shaun White snowboarding game for 45 minutes or so. But then I had to head out to the Curling Club to meet PrissyBitch and her not-so-prissy husband (we really should come up with a name for him), where there was a line out the door.
Apparently, a lot of people had the same idea about curling that I did. But much to my delight, once we had handed over our $10 and gotten inside we discovered that the curling clubhouse has a bar. As you might imagine, the PrissyBitch insisted on trying to order martinis. I pointed out that we would have trouble balancing on the ice and carrying martini glasses but she didn’t care. Luckily, there was no vermouth, so we just got mixed drinks. Mr. PrissyBitch (no…no…that’s not gonna work…) got a Glenlivet on the rocks. The whole thing totaled $12. Awesome.
More surprising, were the “regulars.” There were at least two guys who were just kind of hanging out, doing nothing but drinking, and watching the noobs fall on their asses. They didn’t seem to be members of the club either, just groupies. Weird? Yeah. Awesome? Absolutely.
So, once we were done with our drinks we got our “feet scrubbed” (no one likes dirty ice) and our grippers — you only get one so you are supposed to have that be your first and last foot on the ice. Then, as you wait to go out on the ice, someone from the club tells you what’s going to happen. When we asked about scoring (because we actually have no idea how to play the game, which I’ve since decided is bocce for Inuits) Kristina from the club got out her handy magnet board. One of the girls in our group said, “Oh my God, there’s a magnet board for curling.”
Kristina replied, very cheerily, with the quote of the evening: “Yeah, for strategy and shit.”
But I still don’t really understand the scoring.
Then they ship you out onto the ice area where you stand on the side while you get a basic tutorial. Then they send you to another lane where you first get to learn how to throw the 42-lb stone. People with actual curling experience have shoes with teflon on the bottom, but us losers get a little shoe-shaped cutout wrapped in duct tape to help our non-gripper foot slide. They also (kindly) give you a support of sorts to help keep you from falling over. Of course, it doesn’t completely prevent you from falling over: hence my bruised ass and the PrissyBitch’s broken iPhone.
Next, they move you to another lane where you learn the fine art of sweeping. This is where we met Alph, who we’re pretty sure is the designated yeller at the Nutmeg Curling Club. We learned that he doesn’t like slow play, or anything who allows their body parts (knees or fingers, mostly) to touch the ice long enough to melt it.
Having quit gymnastics about 40 seconds after my coach told me I was getting too fat — at the age of 9 — and having dumped or murdered every boyfriend who ever raised his voice to me, I am not accustomed to being yelled at my men. So, frankly, Alph freaked me out. This is also due, in part, to my inability to take things seriously. The rest of the crew at the club seemed to understand that we were all there because we had nothing else to do on a Thursday night and had been brainwashed by the Olympics to want to try curling, not because we really care about getting good at it. Alph thought we should hone our skills in the 20 minutes in which we learned to sweep. So, he kept yelling at me to get my broom under my arm, and shouting “Pressure! Pressure! Faster! Pressure!”
It was like the least sexy dirty talk, ever.
Sweeping is actually really hard, though.
Well, maybe “hard” isn’t the right word, but by the time you’re at the end of the lane you’re winded. It isn’t often that you slowly jog just ahead of a rock, on ice, while furiously sweeping the ground in front of it. Even Mr. Bitch (we’re getting closer…I can feel it) who had run three miles on the treadmill before coming to curling was out of breath. That’s probably because he tried harder than all the rest of us combined.
After sweeping, it’s pretty much over. They send you back inside for more information or more drinks. But for some reason people kept telling PrissyBitch she looks like someone called Deb. She, of course, demanded to know who this Deb person is. As it turned out she’s the “Skip” or something on the US Olympic Curling team. As far as we can tell though, the only actual resemblance is the fact that they both have brown hair.
You be the judge.