There is a kind of peace in roller derby. I can’t explain it, but standing off to the side, watching women in hot pants and fishnet stockings go round and round on roller skates in a beat up former gymnasium is relaxing. It is soothing.
Not everybody sees it that way.
Standing next to me, one night, one of the girls on the injury list told me she still loved coming to practice, “because I just want to see someone knock a bitch down.”
She likes the aggression, the release of tension, even if the bitch getting knocked down is one of her friends.
I like the weird little community of women for other reasons. It's an odd little sport, which I like, but I also like that they seem more or less glad to see me. They also expect nothing. This is somehow different than the rest of the women I know who seem glad to see me and expect nothing from me.
The roller girls joke and talk trash. They say the most outrageous things. On some nights, the word vagina bounces off the walls of the place like a tennis ball in a dryer. The roller girls get raunchy, make sly allusions to sex lives both real and imagined, but they don’t flirt, not really. They don’t confuse me. Nobody pretends they want to take me home with them and somehow, I find comfort in this.
I don’t think I could stand the pretense of being wanted when I’m not.
Love and sex are things I think about a lot more and a lot less than I used to. I guess I mean to say that I think about it differently than I did. I think in past relationships, and not just my marriages, I’ve looked at sex as a kind of a validation. If I was having sex with my wife or my girlfriend on a sort of semi-regular basis, I guess I thought everything was okay. The relationship was okay. I was doing okay. We were okay.
That seems hopelessly naïve, but honestly, it isn’t so unique. I looked it up. Men often gauge the success of those kinds of relationships based on sex. I imagine this is why when these relationships unravel –and it can happen pretty damned fast – you come away from it feeling a little baffled.
It makes you want to reevaluate how you’ve seen the world.
A couple of friends have suggested I just say to hell with it, hit the bars, do the roadwork and play the inevitable numbers game of sex in the city. The ideas is if you ask enough drunks enough times whether they’d like to have sex with you, sooner or later one or more of them will say yes.
“Just move on, man.”
There is a similar theory about monkeys left in a room with typewriters and how long it would take them to reproduce the works of Shakespeare.
I’m not really that big a fan of Shakespeare. I mean I like MacBeth, but never could get to love Hamlet. I think I just wanted to see someone knock a bitch down.Instead, I go to roller derby. I watch and listen: I only know about half of what is going on at any given time. Nobody seems to mind. I guess I like that they take me at face value and they all laugh when I bring juice boxes for the end of practice.