Monday, April 24, 2006

Epee Fencing and the Angry Bitch

Last Monday, due to Y being closed, I went to the Capital City Fencing club for the second time. This time, instead of a warmup footwork workout from hell, it was announced we will be playing the “glove game.” In this game we are partnered up and lie on opposite sides of the gym. At the “go” we leap up and race for the glove at the middle line, then race back to our line without being caught. The loser of the pair has to do 15 burpys (some sort of combined pushup-jumping jack and squat) and it starts all over again. I look around in panic. Not only am I the oldest person here by at least 10 years but this is the exact sort of game our sadistic PE teacher would play when she wanted to see how many of us would throw up within 45 minutes. I made many life/dignity affirming vows at the end of high school that I would never do such things again. Was this a nightmare? I started checking to make sure I wasn't naked for confirmation when Jeb, the coach, came up and asked if I wanted a lesson. YES!

The lesson was on how to hit the shoulder of an attacker while retreating. It requires precision in retreating, point control and keeping the arm protected. Doing three new things simultaneously with at least two limbs isn’t my strength. “A well trained fencer can do whatever I tell them” Jeb told me. “I’m not that well trained.” I informed him. An intense 45 minutes where over the strain and the concentration I am singing: “This will make me better”

I spent the next hour fencing four different guys non-stop as they rotated on to try the new Epeeist. One sixteen year old boy simply refused to back up, ever. In the 20 minutes we fenced he never once took a single step back. After 15 minutes I decided that if he wasn’t going to back up neither would I (“Anything you can do I can do better, I can do anything better than you” Annie Get Your Gun is such a stupid role model). So we stood there like heavyweights slamming each other with epee blades. It wasn’t pretty. I think we invented something called “street epee.”

I fenced Meiko, the world cup fencer, next. “Do you back up?” I asked him. “What?” As it turned out, he did, but only after launching an attack. After five warm up points we did a bout and I suddenly had “magic point” which is when your blade tip not only goes where you want it, but manages to do so even when you are throwing out a hail-mary panic defense. I won the bout but Meiko is the better fencer. He took chances and I was lucky; next time he won’t take those chances.

In the last 15 point bout I was so tired I almost cried when I made the final arm hit. I had finished without collapsing. At home I counted 19 bruises on just one thigh.

Over the weekend I had experienced some heart pain and arrhythmia which my partner Linda told my father, my father told my doctor and on Wednesday morning my doctor’s office called to tell me I had an echo-cardiogram at the hospital on Friday. With waiting lists three months long, this means that my doctor must have some heavy pull at the hospital.

On Friday I was a bit freaked, particularly when I asked the woman doing the echo-cardiogram if it was an interesting job and she said, “yes, if every heart was perfect then it would be boring but I only see people who have problems with their hearts, like yours.” What? Hello! She didn’t expand. I get the results next week.

From the hospital I went home, picked up my stuff for fencing and headed to the Y. With my training over the long weekend I was going to blow everyone away. Think again. William was smoking me, Gerald was smoking me, Everyone was smoking me. But worse things happen. Then Amanda hit my neck, the exact same place that Bruce hit it seven days before. OW! When Gerald also hit my neck something snapped inside me. I was so going to get Gerald, and prepared myself to run the length of the strip and launch myself horizontally in order to get the touch. Like most kooky plans, it failed spectacularly and Gerald got the point.

That evening I had been chasing Amanda, doing all out 15 pointers to force myself into fencing her tired (that's me tired, she never seems to get tired). I tried bribing the judge after a 15 point match to get a successive 10 point match. I was, in plain words, kinda scary. It was clear that I ate, slept and worked for beating Amanda. And after getting hit on the neck a second time, I was angry.

I don’t know how other fencers deal with getting smacked repeatedly. At camp two boys almost dislocated my shoulder because I wouldn’t say “uncle.” During the mile run at school track meets other parents would try to get me stopped because they thought I was going to pass out. I ran my first marathon in six hours. I don’t even remember two hours of it. I’ve never come in first, or second, or third in any event from elementary school till today. But I won’t quit, I won’t let up.

Somehow, that triggered on Friday and all I wanted to do was fence harder and faster and longer until I vomited blood. “Fence until I drop, I will not leave the strip” was what was going through my mind. I was scary/angry bitch incarnate. I fenced Amanda and made all the anger cold, so that all I could think about were the touches. I thought nothing, I felt nothing but that instant and that point. My blade was light and precise and I had the best bout against her ever (course that might have been that she was freaked out, I couldn’t say).

In retrospect, I should have walked away. I probably should have walked away 10 minutes before that, gotten a drink of water, taken some fresh air and come back when I didn’t feel like I need to prove to God and the universe that they would have to beat me a lot harder in order to make me stop.

Instead, a few barbed comments about my “attitude” later and I crumpled like a kindergartener, ripping off my kit, kicking my helmet with a statement about “men” and stomping off. I’d like to say I left with dignity, but we both know that wouldn’t be true. At least I refrained from threats, name-calling or vows to “tell the teacher.”

Later, I asked Linda what she would have done. “Oh, I would have quit epee long ago.” She told me, “I don’t have the capacity or patience you do with being beaten up.”

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Kathleen said...

I hope everything turns out ok with your heart, and eating oranges should help with the bruises (Vitamin C.) I never realized that fencing was such an art until I started reading your blog a while ago.

elizabeth said...

I am so glad that I never pissed you off in highschool. How sick am I that I laughed hysterically throughout that entire entry?
I remember once (I have no shame to admit this...) I was trying out for this highschool play and I wanted to be in it super bad so I went about learning the dance audition like someone possessed. People in this town take this shit seriously. There are all manner of singers and dancers trying to outdo eachother in that town. In the end I made it in but I had to keep hockey tape wrapped around my feet for an entire week because of the blisters... like a really bad scene from Flashdance/Fame. Then right before opening night - my friend Shelly fractured two of my ribs... I still danced but I was heavily drugged and don't remember a damn thing.

Elizabeth McClung said...

Kathleen: thanks - had some more heart junk yesterday and THIS morning my mother wants to know if I want to go to the emergency room - 16 hours later? I'm not too worried, it's just a sort of continuous revenge thing my body and I have going on - I abuse it, it abuses me.

Elizabeth - oh yeah, you are SOOOO sick! Good story about the play - would have been better if you ex-laxed a few girls to get the part. Reminded me of my sister-in-law who got in a car accident 6 days before her wedding and refused to go to the hospital on the belief that she wouldn't get out in time for the wedding - so she got some morphine and had her broken arm set at home. After the honeymoon she went in and it turned out that she had cracked ribs and one of her organs had died from the impact. Total psycho - "I WILL HAVE THIS WEDDING!"

Elizabeth McClung said...

Now that I think of it - how exactly did your "friend" Shelly fracture two of your ribs - and was she your understudy by any chance?

elizabeth said...

No - she - my "friend"(all 90 pounds of her) knocked me flying in a very unbecoming fashion onto one of the auditorium chairs whilst chasing the Scarecrow in a tickle war. It was the Wizard of Oz - The Wiz - that we were doing. I REALLY have no shame.
-- Liked the Bridezilla story.
Also - unsensitive bitch that I am - forgot to express my concern for your heart. Incidentally - that was very unprofessional of the technician to say and you should have smacked her with something.

elizabeth said...

PS. Didn't have to exlax the girls - most of my friends in highschool ate it for breakfast lunch and dinner.

Elizabeth McClung said...

"Incidentally - that was very unprofessional of the technician to say and you should have smacked her with something."

Well since at the time she had both hands under my robe pressing her heart thingy into all the Ky she smeared all over my chest I assumed it was some sort of "pillow talk" or she wanted to she what a shot of adrenaline would do to my heart - whichever.

elizabeth said...

Seriously though - if everything ends up completely normal - send her a box of dead flowers.

kathz said...

Best wishes with the heart people - does that technician actually possess a heart herself? (Would she really have said that if she thought anything serious was wrong?)

t sounds as though you did some terrific fencing - at the usual cost of bruises, etc. I remember not being able to give in to physical or other bullying at school - sometimes I could see the bullies were getting scared and willing to compromise but I just couldn't do it - and perhaps that's the sort of quality that fencers (and epeeists in particular) need. And cold anger is tremendously useful on occasion.

Do post as soon as you hear from the doctors as lots of readers will be anxious for you. And, so far as you can, please take care of yourself.

Jim said...

1. I am NOT worried about your heart. I know it will be fine!

2. Your bruises are marks of honor.

3. I think some of the people you are fencing need to be honored......really hard.

Do you bruise relay easy? If not, the people you are fencing need to work on their distance!

Please write me when you hear about the report on your health Tiger.

You will be in my thoughts.

B.V. Brus said...

Apropos of nothing in this particular thread... Check it out. I think you might like it. The art style is pretty decent, and the story pulls you (after the first 12 humdrum pages or so). From the link I've provided, hit the full rewind button and start from the beginning of the series.

NOTHING said...

thats the way to live never give in never surender,im a bad athaliet, thats y i do theader, i cant act sing or dance so i do stage crew, actualy they r making me stage manager(the curent managers r sr's and wont be here next yr, so im taking their place(i actualy do a better job at it than they do 2)its tuff tho i got to go 2 every rehersal and stuff and the play is in 2 weeks

ps:sry this coment is kinda long

NOTHING said...

nevermind, my jcomment wasnt nearly as long as elizadath's, i think id go balistic after al that abuse and attack my aponent in fencing, id try to get their sword thing out of the way and attack them...thro them on the grown, that kinda stuff and id most likely get kicked out(hope im not giveing u any ideas)lol

elizabeth said...

Yeah - I know I run off at the mouth sometimes (or would that be keyboard?)
Where are you today Elizabeth? (We worry about you old

Karen said...

I always look at bruises as a mark of honor too. I have 5 on my thigh currently from Saturday's tournament, but that doesn't even compare to your 19!!!

Best wishes with your heart. Let us know how it turns out.

Elizabeth McClung said...

Jim: Oh as soon as I can "honor" them I will - but I prefer to sting like a butterfly and float like a brick - did I get that quote wrong?

Nothing: Congrats on the promotion and hope the play goes well, don't worry about long posts - we sure don't.

Brus - great comic - thanks! Ah, young love ("we're just happy he's dating anyone with ovaries")

Karen: how did you do in your tournament, and when will you blog about it?

Elizabeth and all - my heart - I don't find out until Friday but I am pretty sure it will be something like: "There are some abnormalities but they are inconclusive and we can't really say at this time whether this indicates anything or not, it's something you should be aware of, but nothing definate." Wha?

Elizabeth McClung said...

Oh yeah, and thanks for the concern all - It was unexpected and my usual technique (like when someone gives me a present and I run away clutching it yelling, "Mine, all Mine!) wasn't applicable.

Surendra Singhi said...

Best wishes for your heart and health. I don't think that technician actually meant that something was wrong with your heart (so don't worry), she was just trying to make a general point that people who come there generally have some problem (she should have been more careful with her words though).

Also, I agree with Jim "the people you are fencing need to work on their distance!"


Karen said...

Men are evil. Why did I marry one?

In answer to your request, I blogged about my tournament today. ;)

NOTHING said...

hay not all men r evil(im not)

Elizabeth McClung said...

Surendra - turns out you were right and all well that ends well (except for now having to try and induce a cardiac event). Cheers!