A couple of weeks ago The Flaming Lips came to town. When tickets had gone on sale two months prior, I swiped up three right away- One for me, one for Sybil Action and one for the Duke of Triumph- Sybil’s husband.
I had ulterior motives, you see. I was bound and determined to pop the question to my best friend.
I hatched this one plan of contacting the band. In my mind’s eye, I could visualize Wayne Coyne delivering a heartfelt monologue halfway through the show- all about friendship and love and roller derby.
I’d be backstage, all dressed up in a giant rabbit costume, or in my derby gear (or both) and just when the band’s front man invited Sybil up on stage, I would come out with a ring, bend down on one knee and Sybil would tearily nod yes. Cue massive applause and cheers. The Duke tosses his head back and gales of laughter issue forth and the three of us merrily skip and giggle and cavort on stage with the band…but I procrastinated and forgot to email the band.
And…that was really the only plotting and planning I had done- Go to a show, have some famous guy talk up what a great lady Sybil is, stick a Cubic Zirconium piece of jewelry on her hand and call it a day.
But really- what’s the point of doing all that if I haven’t delved into the reason WHY I consider her my derby wife?
As you may or may not know- a derby wife is pretty much a girl that reminds you of all the things that you ever liked in another person. They’ve got your back and you’ve got theirs, they’re with you through thick and thin, you are best friends and it’s as simple and as complicated as that. It’s exactly how I’ve always felt about Sybil Action. I wanted her to be my ‘DW’ probably before I even wanted to roller derby. There are boundless reasons why. I could list them out, beginning with…starting with…well, maybe I can’t list them.
I just keep thinking of moments we’ve shared, wine we’ve drunk, the laughter and the comfort, tears and joy.
I then think of all the times she’s been there to save me from doing something stupid. I’m humbled that she continues to be my friend, because there’s been a lot of stupid-saving on her part.
(Side note: I left a section or two out of my prior blogs. See, there was a part of my life that I wasn’t sure I was going to discuss, so I omitted a few things. But I’ve decided to touch upon them, so- as Paul Harvey would say, “And now- the rest of the story”)
About four or five years ago, I was living in Florida and was in a terrible relationship. Sybil was in North Carolina and we were doing our best to call each other every once in a while and catch up. During one of our random phone chats, Sybil informed me that she was going to begin doing roller derby. This seemed completely normal to me. After all, we’d gone through our fair share of interesting activities already: stealing cars, flying planes, shooting pool, shooting guns, beauty contests, amateur strip nights, consulate meetings, crawfish boils- roller derby seemed like the next logical step. I wished her the best and asked her to keep me updated on it. We talked a little while more, promising to keep in touch- the usual long distance stuff.
Time passed. I had gotten out of my terrible relationship and as a result- landed into the most unholy warship of depressions known to man. After years of walking on eggshells, hiding injuries and being hyper-vigilant to the slightest change of behavior and/or environment- I pretty much forgot how to function as a human being.
I became withdrawn and uninterested in everything. I quit my job, stopped talking to friends- even to Sybil. I was rapidly heading towards complete breakdown.
I made a decision to move to the Midwest and live with my parents one night, when the only other choice was to cease functioning altogether.
I hated living in Missouri, but it gave me the opportunity to start healing. I got a job at a payroll company, and began therapy once my insurance kicked in. I began to settle in to my new life- trying to make myself believe that I would be content popping ‘zombie’ pills, processing payrolls for a living and playing Dominoes every Sunday with my Mom and Pops (which actually is pretty fun, come to think of it)…trying to make myself believe that I would be content popping ‘zombie pills’, processing payrolls for a living and dodging tornadoes the rest of my life.
One day though, at our company weekly meeting- a girl walked in sporting the ugliest black eye ever. My past came rushing back in the split of a second. I didn’t know if I should hide under the table or go up to her and offer her assistance in escaping. Just before I passed out from hyper-ventilating, I overheard her say, “It’s from roller derby”.
It was as if Sybil had come in the room, sat down next to me and calmed me down like she always has been able to do. That conversation we had shared so many months before came back to me, prompting me to really change my life for the better. And then there was that night dodging tornadoes that kismet once again took over and guided me towards the last five minutes of a derby bout on television. A remedial conclusion abacus started clicking in my head: Roller derby on the Dummy, Sybil plays roller derby, roller, roller, roller, derby, derby, derby (ding- conclusion!) If Sybil started doing derby, why- by Jove, I was going to do derby too!
I got back in touch with her and we picked up right where we had left off. I started making plans for my future. It took another year, but I finally made it back to Charlotte.
This past August- she introduced me to her new team- The Charlotte Speed Demons. I began helping out with non-skating duties until I was given the opportunity to join their skater training program in March.
I can’t tell you how exciting it was for me! Finally, at long last- Sybil and I would have the opportunity to participate in a team together. Our partnership on the track would be the stuff that legends are made from- the synergy we would produce would be infectious- world peace! Happy babies! Jesus and Satan sharing a beer!
The day before I started my skating career, Sybil’s most likely ended for good when her leg decided to shatter at practice.
That’s the other thing about Sybil and me- Irony is our constant companion.
That’s the whole story, so now back to The Flaming Lips show:
I had the rings in my right pocket and my digital camera in my left. All that I needed was for Duke to get the camera and the proposal to be made. I leaned over and said as quietly as I could-
“I’M GOING TO PROPOSE TO YOUR WIFE! TAKE MY CAMERA AND SHOOT LOTS OF PICTURES, OKAY?”
Duke looked at me, features slightly askew before saying, “Nah. Why don’t you wait for another time, okay? You don’t even have rings, just enjoy the show.”
My face must have done one of those ‘crestfallen’ maneuvers, because he then said, “You do have rings, don’t you? Have you been planning on doing this all along?”
I nodded my head and he motioned for the camera. I excitedly went for the rings but Sybil reached in and gave the camera back to me.
“Take our picture, here!” So, I awkwardly began an impromptu photo session. If it wasn’t for the Duke of Triumph stepping in and grabbing the camera, I know I would have lost my courage. Sybil looked around and asked what was going on. I got down on one knee and said-
“Sybil- I tried to think of your favorite color and I didn’t know what it was. I tried to think of your favorite flower, and I couldn’t do that either. What I do know is that you are more than a color or a flower choice to me. You are more like an emotion, or a blood transfusion, and I need you in my life. Would you do me the honor of being my derby wife (I didn’t really say that. I was too nervous and wound up vomiting out something about her being crippled and lame, but that I’d take her anyways. But if I had a take two, then I definitely would’ve said that bit about the flowers and the transfusion)?”
She looked around at Duke, then at the crowd of onlookers, finally at me and laughed.
But then she again looked down at me kneeling, looking vulnerable and desperate and laughed some more.
She eventually said yes.
I think we’ll wait until next season to tie the wax-laced knot. That gives me time to pass assessments and her time to adjust to all the plates and screws she’s adopted into her leg. I’m also thinking about getting my act together, as it’s about time I start doing some of the saving once in a while.
It’s a day early, but Jenna- I love you. Happy Birthday, derby wife-to-be.