Alright, people, here we go. I’m back in black and back on wheels and it’s taken me a while to write something because, frankly, my highly anticipated whirlwind return to roller derby has been about as exciting as that terrible movie where Sandra Bullock floats half naked in space for three hours. In other words, there have been brief moments of romance, anxiety, and jubilation, but mostly I’m just waiting for something to happen.
What has actually happened is that I am finding myself increasingly drawn towards writers who say that roller derby didn’t save their soul, women who think that roller derby is just something they do and not who they are, and players who don’t work out “in beastmode” all the time because they’re not Suzy Hotrod and are okay with it.
That’s right, friends, I became a big fat underachiever. (And you can too!)
I go to exactly the number of practices that I need to go to to make attendance. Sure I work hard while I’m there, but I don’t spend my off time pre-visualizing the perfectly executed plow stop. Yes, I cross train, but I don’t want to talk about it over dinner. And yeah, I go to bouts and I watch them on WFTDA.tv and I love the sport, but I also love American Horror Story and 30 Rock and I would feel extra lame if I posted about either of those all day on Facebook so same goes for derby.
I don’t want to be friends with the popular girls. I don’t care what team a player is on or if someone skates better than me or faster than me or if they can’t even make it around the track yet or if they founded the league or if they once held hands with someone on Team USA. I want to make friends with women with authentic smiles and interesting things to say. Intraleague elitism makes me want to vomit on the track.
I don’t give a shit about gear, either. I want my wheels to spin smoothly. I want them to be smallish and not too grippy and not too hard and I want my boots to fit well, but I don’t give a shit which famous skaters use what-the-fuck-ever or if my pads are all held on to my body with duct tape. I just don’t care. I let my friends who know about gear tell me what to buy and I don’t think about it longer than the time it takes for me to buy what I need.
I don’t wear hot pants anymore. Firstly, because they are impractical (camel toe, rink rash, general self-consciousness, etc.) and also because synchronizing tights and knee-highs and hot pants is exhausting and I’m tired of going to gas stations after practice and being hit on by middle-aged drunk dudes. Yoga pants are fine for yoga and they’re fine for roller derby, too. Plus they protect the whole ass cheek and not just half.
Yes, I do wear derby team shirts of teams I haven’t seen play. Maybe because I know someone nice on the team or traded at Rollercon or maybe just because I thought their logo was cool (for shame) or whatever and I’m probably not sure what city it’s from because I like to travel and I can’t keep track because my brain has to hold important information in it like where my car keys and phone are.
No, I don’t want to volunteer. I mean, actually, I really enjoy helping out, but it’s not like a social activity for me. I don’t want or need brownie points and I don’t know who’s keeping track of them, anyways. And let’s be real, I’m a shitty NSO and I’m always rooting for the team I want to win. So if you want me to help the team, I will, but let’s stick to things I’m good at: yoga, getting shit organized, and writing sarcastic social commentary.
I do not want to get drunk after practice twice a week. First of all, I’m old and I want to run in the morning and it’s hard enough to function at 5:30 am without a hangover and not enough sleep. Second, I do not think that holding hands while we vomit equates to team building. Let’s just be non-vomiting friends, okay? Third, and I know this one is batshit crazy, y’all, but I have a social life outside of derby and I like to hang out with other people sometimes.
I don’t want to be in charge of anything and I am dreading the day that I have to join a committee. And no, it’s not because I don’t want to make a contribution to my league. It’s because I don’t want to spend my time quibbling over logistic bullshit or engaging in meaningless power struggles. I just want to play roller derby and let someone else call the shots. Is that too much to ask?
A good friend said to me the other day, “I go to practice and I skate hard and I pay my dues and that is actually what keeps the league running. There will always be people in charge and it doesn’t matter who they are. If the skaters all just keep skating and working hard, then the team will be successful.”
And I kind of wanted to make out with her in that moment because I feel exactly the same way (and because she made a funny joke about lesbians with Justin Bieber haircuts). There is a lot of non-derby stuff that goes into the making of roller derby and someone will always be in charge. It will usually be the person who most wants to be in charge, so if you aren’t that person, why not just skate up and shut up? You really want to make your team better? Then be a better team player.
If it seems like I’m not taking roller derby very seriously, it’s because I’m not. This is what I do for fun. I already have a full time job and a part time job and a lot of other responsibilities and I want roller derby to be a good time. I don’t want to go to meetings and fight about bylaws. I don’t want to go to practice and get aggro and vie with other skaters for the title of Most Derby-fied.
I just came to play.