Monthly Archives: March 2012

Bahston Roller Derby

The Nutcrackers circled the track as the emcee introduced them. When he called Badonkey Kong’s name, a woman behind me screamed, “That’s my sistah!” I snuck a look and saw that most of the people in the row behind us were wearing Nutcracker t-shirts. I hoped that wasn’t going to be a problem; I’d come to cheer for the Cosmonaughties.

I didn’t even know that roller derby existed outside of Hollywood until a friend invited me to come see her co-worker skate, but I didn’t hesitate to say yes. The novelty of the adventure was enough to convince me to abandon my husband on a Saturday night, at least until the hour of our dinner reservation.

Local roller derby teams belong to the Boston Derby Dames, “Boston’s first and only all-female, DIY, skater-owned-and-operated flat track roller derby league and proud members of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA).” But this is not the big time by any definition. These women skate for love, not money, and they compete at the Shriners auditorium, which has seen better days (as have the Shriners we saw there).

I was curious to see what a roller derby audience looked like. It turns out there’s nothing particularly remarkable about them. It was the kind of crowd you might see at the circus. Yes, there were some heavily tattooed and pierced folks that looked a tad intimidating to my aging suburban eye, but they were far outnumbered by under-stated, middle-aged lesbians and their children.

Even the skaters looked, for the most part, like regular folk, albeit dressed in spandex and sporting knee-pads, elbow-pads, helmets and, I hope, mouth guards. Their names, however, were anything but normal. In roller derby, everyone has a nom de skate. We were cheering for Tiny Dancer, one of the tamer sobriquets. The other team had my favorite name, Maya Mangleyou. I liked the literary touch.

Tiny Dancer

Tiny Dancer

Being brand new to the sport, it took us a while to understand what was going on, but after some coaching from our neighbors we were able to follow the action as Hayley Contagious and Crown Joules battled it out for the lead. It’s not a gentle game, there was plenty of pushing and shoving and skaters sometimes went down, but not for more than the few seconds it took to scramble back up. The Cosmonaughties took an early lead, but trailed the Nutcrackers midway through the second half. I can’t tell you who won because we left early to make our dinner reservation.

I was sorry to miss the second half of the evening, a match between another Boston team and a team from Maine. The schedule shows that this season Boston will meet teams from all over, including Cincinnati, New York and Montreal. I may not have known anything about roller derby, but apparently lots of other people do. And although you can’t find the names the skaters were born with online, you can discover that many of them are smart, college-educated, athletic women with impressive day jobs.

Now that I’ve experienced it live, I want to see what Hollywood has to say. I’m adding Whip It to my Netflix queue. Then I’m going to put the next roller derby match on my calendar; Nutcrackers vs. Wicked Pissahs! Should be good. Anyone want to go?


If it ain’t broke…

I bought a new toothbrush this weekend. If it had been a plastic molded toothbrush, the kind you get when you visit the dentist, there would be nothing to write about. But it wasn’t. It was a replacement for our Sonicare electric toothbrush, which Andrew argued didn’t need replacing. I disagreed.

The button you press to operate the toothbrush is covered with a rubber pad. Half of that pad had separated from the casing and although you could still press the button, it looked shabby and I was mildly concerned about being electrocuted. I understand that it is environmentally irresponsible to discard things that still work (Andrew’s primary argument), but it was old and falling apart. When my sister-in-law said she was headed to Costco, I decided to hitch a ride to check out the price of a new toothbrush.

Philips manufactures Sonicare. Before hitting Costco I thought it would be prudent to check out their web site to see what was available. Not surprisingly, Philips only advertises the latest and greatest models; there was no evidence that earlier ones were still being made. I cross-checked the price of a new model on Amazon so I’d be able to judge whether or not Costco was a better deal. I was armed with all I needed to know. Then I talked to Andrew.

He had been online researching the entire electric toothbrush market in his typical, thorough, careful, thoughtful, ounce-of-prevention, time-consuming, exhausting, infuriating, I-want-to-run-screaming-from-the-room kind of way. I didn’t have the patience to let him come to a conclusion. My bad.

It turned out that the only new Sonicare model that Costco had was one that was clearly overkill for our purposes (which, remember, was to – BRUSH OUR TEETH). They did, however, have a two-pack of an older model, the one, coincidentally, my daughter had. As luck would have it, she’d been complaining that hers was old and “icky” so I knew that she (who has less of a landfill fixation than her father) would appreciate a new one. I bought the bundle.

I opened the package at home. It came with two of everything; two recharging bases, two handles with batteries (that I will need a hazmat team to dispose of one day), and two molded plastic stands to hold the heads that are not in use, all encased in a big plastic box inside a big cardboard carton. Faced with all the new plastic for parts that didn’t need replacing, I was horrified. All of a sudden the ripped rubber over the power button didn’t seem like such a big deal.

As a scab-picking exercise, I revisited Amazon. This time, I waded through twenty-four pages of listings for Sonicare. Almost every piece of the system is available for purchase individually, except for our original handle. That can only be bought as part of a bundle for $175, which is way more than I paid for a pair from Costco. Clearly some third-party vendor is hoarding the earlier model in order to prey on people like me who can’t deal with change. If I’d taken the time to research more carefully, would have been sucked in? We’ll never know.

All I wanted was a new toothbrush. Buying one should have been as easy as, well, brushing my teeth. Instead I spent money to replace something that probably didn’t need replacing. I’ve been with Andrew over twenty years. I should know by now that he’s always right, if he could just get there a little faster…

So, before I add more stuff that will never decompose to a landfill, can I interest you in a slightly used, perfectly functional, electric toothbrush?

Have I said it all before?

Everyone has experienced déjà vu, that feeling that the moment you’re in already happened. It’s so remarkable that when it does happen, we tend to announce, “Oh, déjà vu!” Our companions then shiver with vicarious thrill at the mystery of it.

When someone forgets that they’ve told you a story, and you are subjected to a re-telling, a real déjà vu, there is no accompanying thrill. If it’s the first time, it might take a while before you recognize it, in which case you’re likely to be polite and hear the speaker out. Your patience, however, will grow thinner with each subsequent re-telling. And when I say “your” I mean mine, and yes, I am projecting unapologetically.

I admit that I like attention, but I’m also easily embarrassed, so I police my own behavior accordingly. If I start to tell a story, and someone says, “Yes, you’ve told me,” I stop, blush, and apologize. As a matter of fact, I’ll often start with, “If I’ve told you this, stop me,” rather than risk embarrassing myself. In person, this is easily dealt with, but not on my blog.

Last week, while writing about how George Harrison was my Beatle, I experienced déjà vu, convinced that I’d written those exact words before. I reviewed old blogs and didn’t turn up anything. If it wasn’t a blog post, it must be something else. I searched my hard drive – still nothing. Why was I so nervous?

I’d already written about my lousy memory. Worse, I wrote about the same subject twice, once in late 2010, and again in September of 2011. When I realized that I’d done that, I waited nervously for you to point it out. But you never did. There could be any number of reasons for that; you don’t actually read my blog; your memory is bad, too; you didn’t want to embarrass me. If it was the latter, I appreciate your kindness, but the fact that you never said anything didn’t actually make it any less humiliating because I am my own worst enemy.

It was only a matter of time before I confessed that I’d written about the same subject twice. That’s what I do. I have to point out my mistake before I can forgive myself. Hey, that’s a good idea for a post. Except you might think, since I just mentioned it, that I’d already written all you need to read about my need to confess. I wouldn’t want to bore you by telling you again. What will happen to my blog when I’ve told you all my stories? Will you be polite and keep reading, or will you wander away? I mean, in person, this is easy to deal with, but on my blog it’s harder. Have I told you that before? Oh no, déjà vu…

Good-night Daydream Believer

A generation of women of a certain age is mourning the passing of one of our earliest and most enduring crushes, Davy Jones of The Monkees.

Daydream Believer was the first single I ever bought. My older sister and I had a little record player, just big enough for 45s, and we played that song over and over and over. We may both have been swooning over Davy, but I don’t remember having to compete with her for the right to his attention, should the opportunity ever present itself. Perhaps she preferred a different Monkee (hard though that is to believe), because if not, I never would have been able to think of him as my own.

My sister played the older-sister-card when The Beatles arrived; that’s how come Paul was her Beatle. John was already married when they got to America, and therefore out of the running, so she instantly laid claim to Paul. It didn’t matter that I was nine and she was eleven at the time, marrying a Beatle seemed plausible to us. I didn’t mind that she snagged Paul; I would have chosen George anyway. That left Ringo for my little sister. These assignments were immutable and to this day I think of George as my Beatle.

My older sister and I shared a brief fascination with Leonard Whiting, the handsome young man who played Romeo in Zefferelli’s Romeo and Juliet. We tore pictures of him out of teen magazines and taped them to our shared bedroom walls, but we didn’t fight over who he belonged to. He was more of a passing fancy. I don’t think I ever saw him in another movie, and I don’t remember anything else about him, but my conviction that he is the perfect Romeo has never wavered.

When George Harrison passed away, guitars weren’t the only things gently weeping. I felt a deep sadness because the world had lost a great artist, and, in the way of many celebrity deaths, it was as if a friend had died. With Davy Jones, however, it was as if I finally realized he was never going to appear at my door and declare that I was the only girl for him. (My fantasy makes no provision for the fact that my husband might be the one answering the doorbell!)

There are those who are quick to point out that The Monkees didn’t know how to play their instruments when they were hired, much less write their own music, and were therefore, not worthy of admiration, but disdain. To those people I say ─ who asked you? When I was little, I loved their music. Pleasant Valley Sunday remains one of my favorite songs of all time, and did you know that that was written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin? Songwriters don’t come much more talented than that.

After I heard the news, I spent some time on the Internet poking around into all things Davy Jones and discovered something wonderful. It seems that Davy Jones was not only a pop star, he was a nice man. This article in the UK’s Daily Mail, written several years ago, is worth a few minutes of your time if you are one of those women of a certain age.