Wednesday, April 14, 2010

How Andy Burned Her Beloved

Last night, I played my first league curling match. Afterwards I tweeted I hadn't done anything too stupid. That wasn't quite accurate.

Sometime late in the game, the skip showed me and Jimmy this little timer device. You velcro it around the broom handle and then use it to time how long the rock takes to cross certain marks on the ice. This number tells you how hard the rock was thrown, which is useful for determining how much you'll need to sweep to get the rock as far down the ice as it's supposed to be.

So, I had this neat toy to play with, right? And I was trying to figure out how to use it. All you have to do is press one button, but I'm not all that great at interacting with new devices. Maybe I'd press the wrong button. Maybe I'd press the right one twice. Or at the wrong time...

I was trying to time Jimmy's throw. He lined up in the hack and I stared at the timer, making sure my finger was in the right place on it. I looked at the rock, ready to press the button exactly when the rock went over the line... Jimmy slid, released the rock... I pressed the button. At the right time! Got the second button push right too.

Then I went back and Jimmy said, “You know you burned me, right?”

Huh? I burned it?

No, not it. Him.

Burning is what you call it when you touch one of the rocks. I'd never heard it applied to a person before, but that's how Jimmy was using the word. I was so obsessed over the timer that I didn't even notice smacking into the shooter.


This is the kind of thing I do.

I'm not sure if saying I burned Jimmy is accurate phrasing. I'm not sure that action happens often enough to have a standard verb.

But it wasn't a mistake that changed the game. Which we won, despite my involvement. Overall, I don't think I played that horribly for someone on her second game ever. (Big qualifier there, but it's important to keep things in perspective when starting a new activity.) I had a lot of fun. And both my skip and my vice are very good at being patient and explaining things. Which is really good since they get to deal with me.

Clearly, I'm still learning a lot. Hopefully I'll keep that up for a long time.

You may be wondering how all this learning is going to affect the novel I'm writing, the one about the curling team. Well... I don't think it will. At least not that much. I may come to a better understanding of curling culture and that could leak in. But all these details like the timer and what the numbers it spits out mean? All putting those in would do is confuse people.

There are scenes that take place on ice. And there are a few shots that get mentioned. But saying, “The rock was moving too fast, it was going to overshoot the target,” would tell readers a heck of a lot more than spouting out a number they don't know what to do with.

I think I know enough for a novel already. At least for the game play aspects of it. But playing does make me feel more connected to my characters. Plus, it's good for me. I like it as much as they do. Well, maybe not as much as the MC, but as much as her less obsessive teammates. :)

The league I'm currently in will run for another eight weeks. I'm looking forward to them. I'm not sure if I'm going to be able to stay with curling in the fall. The club is two hours from my house after all so it's a major deal to attend matches. But I'm really glad I'm getting the opportunity to play now.

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