On Monday Amanda and William came back from Provincials full of vinegar and aggression. William (won bronze in epee) chased me all over the strip. He also charged into my lunges and stopped my blade, making the tip bend upwards, the wrong way (some people, like Mr. Ho & William, may say that I did not have the correct hand position; but in a choice between my fault and William’s; I choose William). So my lovely blade, which I had named “Maria the Disembowler” had to be rebent 6 times (all in bouts against William) plus my blade was mocked as having “a D&D name.” Don’t listen to them Maria.
I did manage to win a 10 point bout with Steven ENTIRELY with arm hits; thereby assuming the self appointed title “Queen of arm hits”. I owe it all to my trusty ping-pong ball.
After telling William that I wanted him to fence me “Totally 100%”, he promptly hit the vein in the soft tissue of my neck so hard I collapsed to the floor and played, “Oh my God, this is how I going to die, with my face pressed up against the hardwood of the YMCA?” for a few seconds. William felt very bad, which was odd because I told him repeatedly that I would have made the same hit if I could have (and I will, oh I WILL!). I was disappointed to find out that my counter to his arm missed. So, all in all, William gave me a hickey!
Because the Y was closed for the four days over Easter I followed up a tip from William and checked out the Capital City fencing club. They were kinda scary; for example no one talked, smiled or joked for the hour I was there. But they were open over Easter weekend and do have a coach who gives lessons; for $1 a minute.
I came Friday night, changed clothes, chatted a bit and then joined the fencers as they started their footwork drills. Previous to the start of drills I had been feeling pretty good about myself: after Amanda I was the fittest person in the Y club, I did lunging practice every day, I did hand-eye practice every day, did some walking, some running, I was a fit trained athlete right? As it turns out: NO!
First exercise: take one of the lines running the length of the gym and do step-step-lunge all the way down the line, retreating back to the baseline in “position” and do the same set of lunges on the next line, and the next line (three lengths of the gym forward and back). Then do the same with step back-lunge, then with balistra-lunge, then lunge-recover forward-lunge (the most painful), then jump-back lunge, etc. On and on for 40 minutes.
I was sucking oxygen while my heart gave me that intense burning sensation which means you are voiding the warrantee. One guy, whose face looked it was about to explode from blood pressure tried to stagger away. “Don’t leave” I wheezed out almost clinging to his legs, “or I’ll be the slowest.” (Nice, I ask him for a favor and insult him at the same time) He stayed but later when we following a leader playing “keep the distance…and lunge” they asked for another leader and he caught my eye and started shaking his head. Did he think I was going to try and lead, or worried I would volunteer him?
So, with my lunges now a half second later than everyone else I realized: I am the slowest, out-of-shape, embarrassing klutz of the class. You think after high school PE that you get to leave that feeling behind (curse those presidential fitness tests). WRONG!
There were only two other epeeists that night; John and Bruce. I fence John for 25 points in a 5-10-10. John does foil too and is 16. I can tell this because in one of my attacks he parries in 4, in 6 in 7, in 2 and finishes by pulling my blade above his head in a saber parry in fifth position. His stance is bad, his arm position is worse but he is fast and his entire points are based on: parry, parry and hit on the counter-attack. His epee is not clean or beautiful. As one of the sacred hand-maidens to the Guardian of Epee, I feel it is my duty to bring him back to the pure epee ways by crushing him with arm hits. That didn’t happen then. But it will.
Next was Bruce, the pentathlete. I guessed that after he did his 40th fleche (a leaping attack pictured below). No, I am not kidding. First Bruce warmed up and I was getting two points for his three. Then he goes, “Okay” and does fleches for the next 50 minutes. ONLY fleches. After 45 minutes he told me he did fleches because he heard I wanted to work on my fleche. That’s true Bruce, MY fleche, the one as slow Hentz ketchup. Instead I have Bruce, the human arrow lunching himself full force between 60 and 80 times.
I have: a black spot on my right leg the size of a loony, which matches one on my left thigh, two or three bruises up the right thigh finishing with a bruised scrape running 5 inches long from the upper thigh right into the groin (you think I would remember that one), I have two chunks chipped from my stomach (one felt like someone dragged a hook into me. I stopped to see if I was bleeding. Nope. Bruce fleches again.) I have an uncountable cluster of bruises which start at my upper arm and go over until my breast bone (thank you Leon Paul for breast guards!). The part between my shoulder and collar bone is so tenderized from pounding I suggest to Linda it would make a good streak dinner. The soft part of my neck by the vein got a hit but the best was the blow so hard to the side of my throat that it not only drove me to my knees and knocked my helmet half off but left a two inch gouge of ripped skin on my throat even under the Neck Guard. Bruce waited till I stood and then we did it again.
I am not sure what Bruce wanted to teach me. Did he think I was going to come up with some brilliant insight in the 40 seconds between one hit and the next? During the last 15 minutes I was punch-drunk and thought I was Rocky: “Do it again, I can take it!. That all you got Bruce!” Maybe I was hoping his beating me up would tire him out. Except when he took off his helmet, I was the one who had the “post-monsoon” look while he was “warmed-up”.
Bruce, as it turns out, goes to the World Cups, as does Meiko who has 21 years of epee experience. I fence Meiko on Monday. In fact Monica has the least experience in epee of the whole club, only nine years (I am going into my tenth week of epee, woo hoo!!).
Last Monday I wrote an email to an epeeist saying that if I could, I would love to fence a bunch of world cup athletes, to really force myself to improve. Oh, how God loves to punish me and my big mouth.
I am depressed and I don’t know why. On Monday at the “Y” I won some and was blue because I thought I wasn’t challenged enough. On Friday I limped home thinking about the cartoon “Bambi V. Godzilla” (no, the film really is just those 10 seconds long): I had no question which role I had played that night (hint, I’m the one with dewy eyes removed off the street with a spatula). Am I motivated? Am I going on Monday? I actually started to ask myself if I was having fun. Then I asked myself a more important question: how many pain pills do I have left?
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