Old People Camp ponders trip to Roller Derby

March 18, 2012 

Before we get started today, I’d like to take a few moments to recap events that led up to my attendance at Old People Camp, or as I affectionately call it, OPC. As you may, or more probably, may not remember, I retired from teaching in June and my class wrote wonderful letters about how much they would miss me and to be sure and have a happy retirement. One of my cheekier fifth-graders, bless his heart, suggested that I send him greetings from old people camp.

So, thank you very much, GJ of the South County, I’ve been doing just that. Which brings me to my current conundrum. My fellow campers and I are getting tired of sitting around at the craft shack painting salt and pepper shakers, and in the interest of becoming more viable and respected members of our community, we’ve been on the prowl for some new, slightly more aerobic activities. As luck would have it, I happened on an intriguing ad at the car wash, while waiting for the nice men to pimp my ride.

On that particular day, I sat in the sun and perused a copy of the local freebie newspaper, which I secretly read just for the entertainment value of the classified ads. One of the ads seemed to be curiously directed at me, and I was convinced it had possibilities for my campmates as well. The ad, which left me breathless with anticipation, called for new recruits for the Five Cities Roller Kitties — the local Roller Derby team!

Immediately my imagination raced and images danced in my head of incredible physical activity and kick-butt opportunities. The only job qualification listed was that all applicants needed to be older than 18; no problem there. And the best part was — no experience needed! We campers could apply and we didn’t even need to know how to skate!

I took the news to my friends at one of our exotic weekend getaways in Oxnard, and they were as enthused as I. We discussed names for our team, and decided that we could debut as the Five Cities Sagging T_____ (rhymes with kitties). The whole team thought that we could probably find our old skates and skate keys, and one friend suggested we check our closets for some hotpants left over from the ’80s. All we needed was a new pair of Keds, and we were good to go.

On the downside, one of my more reserved compatriots was somewhat reluctant because she had never learned to skate as a child, even though she lived mere steps from the Pismo Roller Rink (we will not go into the fact that she couldn’t ride a bicycle either, as we try not to be judgmental at camp).

Friend One was quick to point out that SHE could skate, and she grew up on gravel! The group encouraged Ms. Holier-Than-Thou to be kind to the more athletically challenged, and that, even though she spent three days a week at the gym bench-pressing 25 pounds, it gave her no right to be condescending. And really, how much extreme skating could she have done on pea gravel?

We decided that the very best part of the whole idea was that we would get to wear cool outfits and have NICKNAMES! I always wanted a nickname and to be one of the soshes in high school. I did have a nickname that my father gave me when I was 3, and while probably quite appropriate at my current age, “Tootie” just doesn’t have Roller Derby panache. I’m still thinking of new possibilities.

I did a quick check online and found the Derby products site. Oh mama, the outfits! The hotpants were reasonably priced at $14.99 — of course there’s not much material involved.

I imagine that our team can get custom shirts that are a bit more apropos, with lines like:

“I Fall. You Help. Repeat,” and “I Skate Like a Geezer.”

I did one last piece of research online before I clicked “Send” on our application. I found an article the local TV station had done on a roller derby team. The piece ended with, “Roller Derby is no longer a scripted sport and the players actually HIT EACH OTHER” (emphasis mine).

OMG — I had no idea! I decided to wait a bit with the “Send” button.

Upon re-evaluation, perhaps I’ll hang out with the salt and pepper shakers a bit longer. In terms of aerobic exercise, maybe it would be safer to just start washing my own car. I can even wear my hotpants.

However, I do think I’ll go back online and click the purchase button the next time the Derby has a match. We’ll make it an OPC field trip — join the fans, live vicariously and watch those Kitties roll.

Suzanne Davis is happily retired and living in the South County with her husband and their three dogs.

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