August 23, 2012

This Aint My Grandma's Derby

Last year, I was at my cousin's baby shower when I told my Grandma Weezie I was doing roller derby. Because I have been known to crack a joke here and there, she laughed, patted my knee, and ate more lemon-poppy seed cake before she realized I wasn't joking. She looked at me and said "What? Really??... Oh." and while I understood that roller derby was rough, I couldn't get over her response. The baby shower was lovely, the cake was delicious. As I recall I ate more than a couple chocolate covered strawberries, drank pink lemonade, and steeped in wonder over my Grandma's reaction.

A few weeks later at Thanksgiving I told my Grandpa I was doing roller derby. This was the other side of my family and some of them hadn't heard the good news. Grandpa was giving me a hard time about not being married yet and in my annoyance with his prodding in that area I asked him if he thought I would meet at lot of men at the roller derby because I was going to start skating in it. I admit, I was hoping for the same reaction I received from Grandma but didn't get it. He seemed excited and said he couldn't wait to see me skate. He asked in rapid succession "Was I already on the team? Did I like it? Was it as violent as it looked 40 years ago? Was I going to shave my head?" What? No! I just wanted you to leave me alone about not being married...

This was getting confusing. Just strange responses to my news. Would they act like this if I had joined a volleyball league? Pretty sure they wouldn't... What was going on? My parents seemed fine with it, sure they rolled their eyes when I told them, but I was used to that. They do that pretty consistently with the things I say and do. My friends fell mostly into 2 categories: asking me either if I knew that those women HIT each other or telling me it was a brilliant idea. 

The lesson here is that there are a lot of preconceived notions about roller derby. People seem to know something, but what they think they know  can be way off base. Maybe they watched the San Francisco Bay Bombers and the Brooklyn Red Devils on TV in the 70's and saw that crazy, theatrical, heavily  choreographed production that was roller derby. Those people are going to look at you like you grew a third arm right in front of them or laugh hysterically and hand you a Luchadore's mask.

People who have seen modern derby usually have a different reaction and most of them think it is AWESOME. They know about the athleticism and the skill required or they may have heard about the after parties. There have been instances of these conversations where I felt like a roller derby queen and I can't wait to show them what I can do on the track.

In my last post, I talked about how the community of support your derby family can provide is so important, but you also have one outside of derby and they are instrumental. It feels good to know your family and friends are looking out for you and are proud. I am glad that I am going to be able to provide them with some good, old fashioned, roller skatin' fun. I can't wait for my first bout when I see them all in the crowd and don the ""Mollytov Maguire" jersey for the first time. I think they're going to be pretty impressed and if they're not, well, I know how to hit people now so I think that will take care if itself.

Derby Love,
Mollytov Maguire

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