Normally I avoid events where emcees try to whip the audience into a frenzy. The sight of someone begging for unwarranted applause makes me intensely uncomfortable. But I couldn't resist my friends Natalie and Blake's invitation to watch the championships of Portland's roller derby.
"Are you ready to get down and derby?" shouted the emcee.
"Not really," muttered Natalie. "But thanks for asking."
The audience seemed evenly split between two distinct groups--those who viewed the spectacle of women knocking each other over on roller skates as something to be taken seriously, and those of us who did not. Luckily, the athletes themselves seem to view their exploits with a touch of irony, as evidenced by their noms de derby:
A Cute Discomfort
Heidi Go Seek
And our absolute favorite:
"What would your derby name be?" Natalie asked me. Upon reflection, I answered, "Buttered Roll." Blake chose "Shake and Blake."
"How about you?" I asked Natalie.
"Mine would be 'Please Don't Hit Me.'"
Lucky us--we sat next to a guy who used to referee, which enabled us to follow what would otherwise appear to be a revolving bar brawl. It's hard to describe, but suffice it to say that one of the sponsors is a bone fracture clinic.
"Who needs the Olympics?" said Natalie, which is just one of many reasons I heart her.
For those of you who've not seen me on skates, here I am, taking a real, unrehearsed spill at 2:08 seconds:
For those of you who have, here's Raquel Welch instead:
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