Sunday, February 26, 2006

"Tourists Want The Hammer"

Yesterday, on what turned out to be a magnificent day, Liz, Jesseca and I headed down to the National Gallery for some ice skating. Some clarification may be in order: 1) there is an ice skating rink outside the National Gallery, we were not recreating scenes from LA Story; and 2) WE were not skating at all, THEY were skating. The last time I went ice skating was as a senior in college. To describe my efforts that evening as ice skating is much like comparing a toddler who pulls himself up to stand using the coffee table to Martha Graham. In each case the participant is wholly overmatched by gravity, entirely without grace, barely stable, and eager to celebrate even the most basic level of proficiency--which in due course returns them to their humbled normative status. Oh and there's also a good chance that in each case their failure has made their pants wet. As a senior Charlotte and I went to the rink and I tried my best to skate. I really did. The first major problem seems to be that to skate one needs ankles that are built like the Israeli embassy in Syria. I'm talking reinforced, structurally impenetrable ankles. I don't have those. Even before injuring my ankle I had ankles with more sway than Jack Abramoff at a Young Republican Convention, more wobble than a truckload of Weebles. When not outright falling on my kness, ass, side, etc I was trying to gain traction by putting weight on the inside of my ankles. So then, in this fantasy underwhich I labored, I could push off and glide effortlessy around the rink. Not so much. I found myself with the balls of BOTH ankles about 1 inch off the surface of the ice. A transgression against my knees and ankles that I will probably pay for all at once when I turn 30.

All of this is simply a longwinded and sorta self indulgent way of explaining that when Liz and Jesseca went skating, I went sitting. I sat and photographed them as they skated. Apparently when you grow up in Alaska and are under constant threat of being killed by polar bears, penguins and the Ruskies learning to skate efficiently and without routine ass-ice encounters is a good thing. At least that's the story I tell myself to explain why Jesseca can really skate. Charlotte could as well. I guess if you live in a place where SNOW isn't a four letter word then maybe skating is more common. (and yes I know about the number of letters in snow...geez, no faith).

Liz was also quite a strong skater and got better as the afternoon wore on. All in all watching people skate is pretty pleasant. Several former figure skaters showed up and they (women, both) had incredible grace and even staged a little skate off. My favorite of the two was, I believe, more graceful, but the other woman could jump. She completed a single toe loop (I think that's the one) which means that in the vernacular of the times, my girl got served. But what can you do. I can't ever pick winners. For the record, neither Jesseca nor Liz fell. Nearly an hour of skating, all of it on ice no less...and no falling. I can't play an hour of ultimate without hitting the ground. Oh well.

After skating we headed over to the Mall and threw a frisbee. That's right I got to throw a frisbee, and what's more Jesseca did too. Last weekend she asked me to teach her to throw. It's such an important thing in my life she (wonderfully) asked to learn how to do it and get a better sense of what the hell we (most of my friends) were talking about. It's hard to explain how nice it is that Jesseca wants to learn. If she never plays or doesn't ever want to toss again that'll be fine. Just the thought and effort to risk a little embarassment and discomfort to learn about what I love, well that's a big deal to me.

The good news is, she's really quite good. For a person who never really played a fine motor sport (tennis, golf, baseball, hockey, soccer) to pickup frisbee is pretty incredible. She has what is becoming a solid backhad and is working on a pretty good foundation for a forehand. More impressively, she can catch. She moves towards the disc to catch it. She doesn't back away, and she seems to intuitively read the disc, taking a good angle of attack. All of which is pretty fucking cool. But again, if she doesn't ever want to do it be it.

Yesterday however, the three of us tossed on the Mall. To set the stage you have to picture a glorious 45 degree day. It's sunny. I'm with my girlfriend and one of my closest friends in DC. Behind Jesseca is the Capitol Dome and behind Liz is the Washington Monument. I'm getting to throw a frisbee and teach someone I love to do something I love. So all in's a good day. But can it get better, oh yes. Oh yes indeed. After a somewhat errant throw by Liz--actually it was barely above my outstretched arm which if I could jump would be incredibly easy, but instead I watched sail over me. Grrr. I ambled over to get the disc and two tourists came to meet me at the disc and asked for directions to the Holocaust Museum. I ably gave them directions (which still feels cool and reminds me I really live here) and as they were leaving they asked me: "Can you throw a hammer?" I spun around and fired off a beautiful hammer to Jesseca which went about 15 feet over her head, so maybe beautiful is the wrong term here. As I threw I shouted, "Tourists Wanted the Hammer."* You gotta listen to the fans. Always.

*For the non-players in my readership, ultimate players will often heckle one another into taking stupid risks and making bad throws. The most common heckle is for a player on the sideline to shout to a teamate, "Fans want the hammer." Ostensibily trying to trick them into throwing a silly throw. Yeah, I know it sounds lame, and maybe it is, but it's also fun to taunt. So that a fan/tourist ACTUALLY wanted me to throw a hammer, well that's just too much for me to pass up.

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