This weekend, I paid $50 for a chance to win a brand new airplane. I listened to stories swapped about a compressor going down and you could see the rocks leaving a wake down the ice. I helped up a marine who made a big fall for the sixth time in 8 hours. I tried to figure out which bar in Prairie du Chien was the place where “Chester” was the bartender, because my skip came in from Petosi when he was 19 for Softball tournaments to try to score with his daughters. I had nachos, soup, fresh strawberries, but missed on the infamous biscuits and gravy when I slept in on Sunday. I learned the new Civil / Environmental Engineering building at Michigan Tech is no longer considered “new” and saying that it was just a concept when I was there made me old. I left early on Friday at 11:30pm but didn’t get off the ice until quarter to 1am on Saturday night. I hung out with a 40+ woman dancing like a six year old as we watched fireworks in heavy snowfall. I put a buck in to play a dice game called “shut the box” & was told that the object was that you but a buck in and do nothing but not see the buck again … then that’s exactly what happened. I considered yoga but was more than happy to agree that the carpet where we would have the class wouldn’t work (and not at all suggest that I couldn’t see any other part of me doing yoga). I not only met an Olympian’s father, he called me his new best friend and I teased “this must be the lowest point of your life”.
AND … I got a new nickname.
This weekend I competed in my first Bonspiel. When I asked what that was, someone told me “It’s chili and beer drinking occasionally interrupted by curling.”
A few weeks back I shared with you my first experience in curling, a sport I tried out to get it off my bucket list – which can be described as shuffleboard meets bocci ball meets ice skating meets house cleaning. Two teams of four alternate sliding granite rocks down a sheet of ice at a target in the effort to get theirs closer to the center of the target and keep the other team’s out. After I tried it out for the first time, I joined a beginner’s league … nothing special, just a night where newbies throw teams together and give the game a go. Bonspeil is actually a weekend long tournament, set-up to welcome all levels of teams get through at least three games and in a crazy bracketing came up with multi-tiered champions. Along with the Fur Rondy, the Anchorage Curling Club was hosting a Bonspiel this weekend. During one night, the Fur Rondy Bonspeil came up, and it was suggested that someone needed a team. They were specifically were looking for a beginner. $50 later, I was signed up.
I showed up Friday night with a pot of chili and only the name of my skip or team captain (being reassured that he was a great guy … and given no other description). In fact, he was a great guy and a great curler. He just loves playing the game, win or lose, his regular team was going to be missing a few people so he put together purposefully a patchwork squad — the skip who is one of the top players in Anchorage, one of the top Anchorage junior girls (all of 16 years old), the oldest ACC member who has been curling in Anchorage since 1968, … and then there was me. It’s not easy to put a team like that together in short order so we didn’t do great — lost, won, lost — but so not the point.
A good curling match is hard work, over two hours you run back and forth along the ice sweeping and throwing stones. We don’t play nonstop, and in between … there is a bar. This is where the fun really kept going. From the other players, I learned a lot about the game and ways to play better, but moreso I got to know them as well. I learned alot about curling this weekend, but the one thing I learned the most is that it is first and foremost a social game. From the overly competitive to the kids trying to play with the adults to the newbies like me, nothing was kept us from having a laugh telling a story and finding common ground over a game that is just too much fun to not love.
Put simply, I had one of the best weekends I’ve had since moving here, and like all great times it starts with great people making it great. Believe me, I am sparing details, and that’s the way it should be. Some things are best kept for Club members, and that includes Magic.