If there’s one thing I wish for every person reading this, it’s that you find your weirdos.
I’ve gotten lucky, and I’ve found mine twice.
Roller derby, obviously, has provided me with a delightful network of odd ducks to meet all of my odd-duck social needs. These people are my weirdos.
Before derby, though, much before derby, there was Trivia. Every year, the World’s Largest Trivia Contest takes over the lives of a fair percentage of Central Wisconsin. The concept is pretty simple, even if game play is not: radio announcers ask a question, and teams have the length of two songs to find the answer and call it in.
Hundreds of teams,ranging from the year-round-preparing, serious-business top-scoring teams to the thrown-together teams comprised of few eighth graders with an internet connection, race to track down answers before the ubiquitous ‘phones down in back’ at the end of the second song.
I’ve played in some capacity for all 36 years of my life (37 if you count 1979, the year my mother played while eight months pregnant with the fetal version of me). As a kid, I ran semi-feral around McDill pond with the other kids while our parents thumbed through books (yes, books… the paper ones). During my adolescent years, we formed teams of friends and just hung out for 54 hours straight, sometimes looking things up in one of our two books, but mostly drinking a lot of soda and eating a lot of junk food. As the years have gone by, I’ve played for a few different teams, ranging from the excessively casual to the excessively excessive.
These people, all of them, are my other weirdos.
I have a hard time explaining exactly why I like Trivia so much. After all, it’s a weekend built around sleep deprivation, lack of movement, mental focus, and knowledge of pop culture. Not exactly my wheelhouse. I like sleeping, don’t do well when asked to sit still and focus, and can’t generally tell one famous actor from another.
To be honest, the same could probably be said for derby. I’m not particularly quick or agile, and I’m not one of those super-competitive types. Forget peak athletic performance… just showing up and participating is challenge enough for me.
Why do I look forward to Trivia Weekend and Bout Days so much? I’ve given it some thought, and I’ve come to this conclusion: It’s the weirdos.
I’m a grown adult, with a job, a family, and a mortgage. There’s no reason I should be using a Nerf gun to shoot a horse-head-mask-wearing friend while a local news team films an interview in the foreground. There’s no reason I should be performing a very amateur interpretive dance routine to Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, and there’s absolutely no reason that anyone should be cheering for aforementioned interpretive dance performance.
Except… I have, and, for some reason, they did.
I want to completely immerse myself in something for no reason other than that I find it fun. I want to not be limited to seeking personal successes at work and at home. I want to have a reason to wear silly clothes, tell jokes inappropriate for a Lady Of A Certain Age, and take a few hours off from the capital-L-Life parts of life.
And I want to do it all surrounded by a bunch of freaks who want to do the same.
Sure, there’s work involved. We (trivia weirdos) take notes on some pretty non-entertaining television and movie releases, and we (derby weirdos) suffer through boring endurance drills in the name of building cardiovascular and muscular capacity, but it’s all in the name of sharing something you love with other people who love it.
There’s a reason why so many people who play Trivia also find roller derby fun (to play or watch), and there’s a reason so many of my derby teammates also play Trivia. We’ve found our tribe(s) of weirdos, and we’re not letting them go, even if you think we’re undignified, obsessed, and/or ridiculous.
Or, just maybe, ESPECIALLY if you think we’re undignified, obsessed, and ridiculous.
Sara Przybylski (Hells Bellski) has not been playing roller derby for 36 years.