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February 1, 2005 / TildeWill

A Good Friend Indeed

Friday I cut out of work an hour early to meet up at the RSC with a bunch of Purdue fencers for Friday Night Fencing up in Mishawaka, IN, a suburb of South Bend. I?ve probably talked a bout Friday Night Fencing here before so I won?t bore you with the details, but suffice to say that I came in 14th out of 22 epee fencers. I will also add that Nads, Adrienne, Mario, Orestes, Mike L, and some other guy were the previously mentioned Purdue fencers. I would also like to say that I do not trust the male fencers at EDL, specifically Mr. Dibble and Mr. Dolezal. They clearly lie about floor touches, they disagree with my very fair calls, and in general have a very pissy attitude all of which goes against my ideal of fencing and certainly doesn?t mesh well with the informal nature of Friday Night Fencing.

So FNF usually finishes around 10:30pm and then you have to drive 2.5 hours home, making it at least 1 am when you get back. This time around I was refereeing at Notre Dame on Saturday and Sunday and part of the deal was that I got a free hotel room. So I drove the 10 miles (and yes I did get lost and almost end up in Michigan again) and checked into the Howard Johnson. The lobby reeked of smoke and the walls were paper thin but it was a room I didn?t pay for so it was ok. Two beds and plenty of heat helped. I was getting ready for bed and decided I was thirsty so I unwrapped the hotel cup and went to throw away the wrapper. I looked for a garbage can in the usual places only to fin it directly under the sink, a weird place for it I thought. So I turn on the water and WHAM! The brownest, brown water I?ve ever seen came out. I wondered how many weeks it had been since someone had used this room. As I?m letting the cold water run I hear a weird dripping noise and come to find out that the garbage can was there for a reason, to catch the water from the leaking sink? classy.

I finally get to bed after watching the middle of ?Cable Guy?. Wake up at 7:00 am, shower, shave, put on my coat, slacks, and tie, grab a donut from downstairs and hit the road. I get to Notre Dame in plenty of time, but the teams are varsity and they have this thing with being on time. Even though they have busses to take them where they want to go and everyone can sleep on the bus, they always want to start later than the schedule. So we started late. I was surprised to see Michigan State, University of Michigan, and Wisconsin there because I was under the impression this was a varsity team only event and those schools are club. Nads showed up and instead of the easy epee directing he was hoping for he got stuck on foil, so it is a good thing I went in on Tuesday and we went over some stuff.

All in all, directing Saturday was tough, but more or less uneventful. Yeah coaches got up in both of our faces but both of us have nerves of steel so that part didn?t faze us, but gave us something to talk about between rounds. Nads caught a little flack for ?changing a call? when all he did was put his hand down. I did the same thing Sunday. We did our fair share of ogling. Nads tipped his hat to a Miss Mick of CSU and I to a woman by the name of Alana from Lawrence. Nads was certain that Mick was making eyes the whole day through. It?d be interesting to know if her intentions were pure or if she was trying to win the favor of the referee and get a few extra points. By then end of the day my dogs were killin me and my throat was raw. I was craving some steak so we found Lonestar Steak House and sat down at the bar. I think this is when it all started?

I was drinking a mudslide and Nads had his beer, and it was the first time all day we really got to chat for more than 5-10 minutes. The mudslide felt great on my throat. We talked a bit about ex-girlfriends and body type preferences. The we got back to fencing where Nads noted how thankless of a job refereeing is. It?s true. You never get a pat on the back for doing a good job. You may get a pat on the back for doing a poor job that happens to favor one fencer over the other, but you don?t want those pats. More often than not even if you are doing a good job one of the coaches stand two feet away from you will disagree with you, and they will either disagree loudly, which is easy enough to deal with directly, or they?ll make a comment to ?no one? just loud enough so you can hear it. I hate that. The head coach from UDM and UofM are particularly loud, but with me I know it is because they want me to judge correctly. It isn?t nice or friendly while their fencers are on the strip, but they never insult me personally by calling me blind or stupid. I kinda like that critique because it adds a certain intensity to the bout. So the one thing I learned if nothing else this week is to thank my director at the end of each round. Of course all the while during this conversation Nads and I are laughing our heads off because you can?t not laugh at your own mistakes and the way people get so worked up about a fencing match. So that?s what I mean by ?this is when it started??

We finished our dinner and I managed to find the hotel without problem this time. Nads stayed with me for the night since his girlfriend was working late. We laid around for thirty minutes moaning about how sore we were like old men and telling more jokes. I think being tired added to the laughter effect. Finally we decided to head down to the pool. We looked goofy as hell in our swimsuits because Nads was wearing his dress shoes and I was wearing my collared shirt. Nads made a hilarious comment about looking like David Leighton and I lost it there in the hallway. You?d have to know the guy, but he?s basically a grown-up version of the guy from ?Revenge of the Nerds?. OMG it was funny. Nads floated around in the pool for a while, I got cold after 5 minutes and sat on the edge letting my legs soak. We talked about our current girlfriends and a little bit about fencing. I thought it was funny to hear that Nads put the feeling of beating a Notre Dame fencer above sex (beating ND guy being #1, and sex being #2). I?ve had some good fencing moments, but I don?t know that they were better than sex. I also can?t say I?ve beaten any tough ND people. I?ve beaten their JV and probably a low level varsity fencer or two, but c?est la vie. I remember thinking how I hadn?t had a conversation like that with anyone from Lafayette in a really long time if ever.

Back to the room for sleep. We got ready for bed and Nads was brushing his teeth when I asked if he minded if I brushed while he was in there. He laughed and thought it was a weird question to ask. He laughed harder when I told him I knew a person who had issues with being watched while brushing. By the time I was half done, Nads was finishing and was spitting when someone said something and he laughed so hard he hit his head on the faucet. That was comedy gold and kept me laughing for a good hour afterwards. I remember thinking how I hadn?t laughed like that with anyone since I came to college. It was a good feeling. Part of it is that I never really spend any length of time with people any more. Like back in Farmington I?d spend an entire day with Pat, Sarah, Heather, Jenny, Fi, and/or Al. I guess that?s the key to laughing so hard your gut aches.

Sunday directing went pretty well. I think they must have lost some foil directors or something because it felt like they put Nads and I on more challenging bouts. We were certainly feeling it too. I started off on a Notre Dame, CSU match and CSU actually won 5 bouts to 4 in men?s foil and there was not an easy call the entire time. I was ready to crawl in a hole after that. Nads actually stepped down from a round where he was in over his head. I applaud him for doing so, I would have be a stubborn mule and stuck it out and messed things up. Things ran smoother but by the end of the day I was beyond ready to be done and go home. Somewhere in there I also had to direct UofM and Ohio State. I hated that bout just because there was no love going into it. I have been refereeing for UofM all weekend and one of their fencers was not a fan of my calls. On OSU?s team is a guy who fenced before college. He wanted to check out Purdue?s team and I had to make special arrangements to come in where it would accommodate their schedule and he and his dad were very snooty, condescending, negative and thankless. I wasn?t sad when he decided not to come to Purdue, but I?m still bitter when I see him on the strip. It was in this bout where I made the mistake I mentioned earlier and one of the OSU guys got very up in my face. I was a half step away from black carding him (kicked from the tournament). That would have been fun.

The day ended eventually and we filled in our info so we could get paid, and Nads and I parted our separate ways. He said he learned a lot and that he?d do it again. Hopefully I can twist his arm and get him to direct at the Purdue Opens and at the Jeff High tournament. I will most certainly be refereeing more in the future.

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