I have always loved playing ice hockey. I like the spirit, the testosterone, and winning. My first wife and I divorced when I was in my early thirties. It was then that I returned to the sport of my youth and rediscovered my love of the game. From the time I was thirty-three until my last game in my early fifties I played beer league hockey. Sometimes the teams I played on took the ice at 11:30 PM on weekdays. It wasn't until I left the competitive divisions and moved to Over 40 Recreational that I had Sunday afternoon game times.
I've severely sprained my MCL's three times, suffered groin muscle tears that have put me on crutches, and have endured arthroscopic surgery on my right ankle and left knee. I willingly paid the price for those wonderful moments when the puck went into the net.
I was forty-six when I finally decided that I was really over the beatings I was taking at the hands of the thirty-five year old guys, let alone the guys who just turned eighteen. I stayed long enough to play on a team with one of those eighteen year old boys. My son Chris. I enjoyed two seasons of getting the puck to the young guns.
I played another four years of rec hockey after those two years but decided to quit when the league management brought in the thirty-five year old guys and tried to pass it off on the older guys unsuspectingly. I wrote about my last game a few posts back. I knew what I was up against and I knew that I just didn't have the body and emotion to keep playing in that situation. I was sad the day I took off my jersey the last time. I didn't leave because I couldn't play anymore. The most memorable moment of my last game was scoring a goal from the blueline on a hard wrist shot. Defensemen don't score a lot of goals. Knowing I still had the power to shoot the puck that hard at fifty-one was sweet. I left because I was tired of the "figuring out how to rig the game."
It was time to write a new chapter in my life. Now I play pickup hockey with a bunch of old friends in the summer months when the rinks are quiet and the serious hockey players are playing golf. We are all old and we have fun together. I can walk in the mornings after I play with my friends without difficulty.
The quiet chapter in my life is about dancing. I love dancing. I love the art. I have always been inspired by the competitive dancers but had no illusions about entering a competition myself. I love performing and have danced for an audience a number of times. I have never danced for judges. As you know I will be videotaping an online submission for the Midwest Pole Dancing Competition and Convention that will be held this summer in Chicago. There are two reasons for me entering this competition.
The first and my only real strong reason for entering is that my cherished teacher, Estee Zakar, suggested that I compete after she saw me dance for the first time. She tells me that there is something very special about the way I dance and that other guys need to see my dance. My second reason for entering is a chance to go to a major convention where the who's who of the pole dance world have come together.
Now to the compromise part. A discussion started today on the Colorado Pole Championship Facebook page. The topic: Will there be a Master's (OLD) Category and what will be the competitor minimum age. The following was posted:
Those that are requesting over 40 keep in mind even at 35-40 you are competing against 18 year olds who may have been pole dancing for years - I attended a comp that had a 35 and over group and actually i felt it kept it very competitive still and made the division feel very strong.
Wow. Brings back some real bad memories on my part. What is a statement like this supposed to mean? I started playing ice hockey at thirteen. Mentally I know where to be on the ice at the right time. This level of experience made it possible for me to play with guys twenty years younger than myself. But, it never allowed me to go one on one with an eighteen year old and beat him to the puck if he wanted it. The legs feed the wolf. I don't have the legs anymore. Now add that to three minute music time limits, compulsory moves, and worrying about what the judges are going to think. I feel myself starting to disconnect. Like the time I put my stick under the "ringer" guy's legs and tripped him on his way to the puck. I was blind pissed off that the league let him play with the gray hairs. The two minute minor penalty I was assessed was worth it.
I'm suddenly feeling like the referee has blown the whistle and raised his arm. He is going to drop the puck in a few seconds, and the shit is going to come down. As each day counts down to June 15 (The date online entries are due to the Midwest Judges) the more stress I feel. My dance comes from deep inside and I dance because I love expressing myself. I love dancing for people and I have no problem with judgement. I don't like Lady Gaga's music. I like Neil Young's music. Neil and Stefani know the art rules up front. No one has to like your art. But on a scale of 1-10 can they tell you why? Would the reasons they give stand up to the kind of objectivity and logic used in a Riemannian Geometry proof?
It's all subjective. I like music that lives for more than three minutes. I like having more stage area than fifteen square feet, and I really have a problem with the reverse cannonball/double upside down/half-pike/jade iguana move. I really want to share my dance. But if it means compromise, and worrying about the kinds of nonsense political maneuvering that goes on in youth ice hockey league board meetings and high school hockey player recruiting I have a back up plan.
I'll just rent my favorite pole studio for an hour with my friends and jam. I might invite my hockey friends. Hockey players are as good at jello shots and beer as any pole dancer I know.
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