As much as I love the fact that winter has ended and spring is here (despite what Mother Nature keeps sputtering at us in Chicago), I am sad to say goodbye, for now, to my latest addiction: curling.
Not of the curling iron sort (I said goodbye to that in the 90s). This is of the Canadian sport (actually, Scottish, originally, but now something like 90 percent of curlers live in Canada).
It’s something that’s caught my quirk alert for awhile. Probably since I first heard about it, during the 1998 Winter Olympics. More recently, I learned that Chicago actually has a handful of curling clubs (as well as a bar in the West Loop, Kaiser Tiger, that had four curling lanes going in the winter–and serves something call Bacon Grenades).
So I did what I usually do when I want to try something new out: I pitched a story on it.
Luck would have it that I write for Billy Magazine, the digital publication of Toronto’s Billy Bishop Airport. My editor thought the concept of Americans curling was so cute he assigned a story on it (you can read that here). Which led to a lesson in curling at the Chicago Curling Club in Northbrook that involved running on ice with a broom, sweeping that ice, sliding on the ice on a slipper made of Teflon, and pushing a 42-pound stone. By the end of the night, I was so giddy I went home and convinced my husband that we needed to sign up for a lesson together.
He agreed, because he’s always up for an adventure and, frankly, because he’s not used to seeing me get excited about a sport.
So in February, we went for a Learn2Curl lesson at the club. The lesson was followed by broomstacking (drinks at the end of a game) at the in-house club bar, and not long after, we decided to join the club.
Because we signed up late in the game, we only got to curl through a partial season, which involved one additional lesson, two games and some more broomstacking. After each game, the winner buys the loser a drink. And then, I was told, because it’s a Canadian sport and Canadians are so nice, the losers buy the winners a drink. In other words, you hang out at a table in a club that looks like a bachelor’s basement, enjoy afternoon libations and meet new people. We’ve met some of the most welcoming, interesting folks in our short time at the club, and discovered a really cool, quirky community.
The rookie leagues ended on Sunday. But I have a hunch we’ll be back next season.
I mean, what other sport can you begin to play in your late 30s and actually have a shot at being decent (not that I’m, uh, competitive or anything)?
Or, at least, have a helluva time trying.