Good Enough for Me: How I’m Spending the Next Couple of Months

Last night and early this morning, I met up in a plain, white plaster building with seven other women, most of whom were between my mother’s and grandmother’s age. For two hours at a time, my partner and I panted and groaned with exertion while another woman screamed at us, “Hurry! Hard! Yes!”

We were curling. What did you think we were doing?

If you know nothing about curling, there are worse introductions than watching Men With Brooms, or the episode of Little Mosque on the Prairie where they curl.

I’ve been curling on and off since I was six. It’s a great game for little kids (especially short ones) because unlike soccer, hockey, ringette, football, lacrosse, and other similar games, it isn’t about brawn. It’s not about how fast you can run, how far you can throw, or how much weight you can lift. It has its similarities to pool, shuffleboard, golf, and darts. It takes some coordination, and a lot of practice, but it’s a sport that you can be good at without being, well, sporty.

I’m not now, nor have I ever been, particularly athletic, but I like games. I love strategy games, I like to make plans and execute them. Curling is great for that.

One of the currents running through my thoughts is those kids who have been doing something, anything, since they were tiny, and are now really, really good at it. As a kid, I did a couple of different things, all of which I’ve let go of in varying degrees for one reason or another. Ballet, soccer, playing the flute, and a brief brush with horseback riding before I discovered that it wasn’t a great activity for people who are afraid of heights and large animals. Curling is one of the ones I’ve let go of least. Being able to kick a soccer ball around with eight year old Italian children without making too much of a fool of myself was fantastic, but I haven’t actually played soccer in years.

I was never really good at ballet (too fat), soccer (too slow), or horseback riding (afraid of the horses). I’m pretty good at curling. My mom once said that if she had the delivery form that I’d had at age 12, she probably would’ve gone on to national-level competition.  In fact, a team I played on in middle school came very close to beating a team who’d competed at that level, and one of my teammates from back then has competed at a national level too. I didn’t even make my high school soccer team.

If I’d wanted to badly enough, I probably could have been an exceptional junior (under 21) curler. It would have taken training and dedication and I would have needed to find three other people to play with, but it might just have happened. If my priorities were different, I might have become a capital-A Athlete. I might have been on the ice doing drills for an hour a day, strictly regulating my diet, and planning every other facet of my life including school, work, other activities and family time, around bonspiels and practices. And maybe, just maybe, I’d compete in something big enough that someone would say, “Well, you know, it’s pretty remarkable, she’s been doing this since she was six years old.”

But then it would have stopped being fun. My favourite part of curling is the social aspect. It’s the sitting around having a drink after the game (winners buy the first round, second place buys the second round), it’s going to a Halloween-themed bonspiel with my mom, aunt, and sister and drawing fake mustaches on ourselves to complete our costumes for the costume competition. It’s declaring halfway through the 7th end (sometimes the 5th or 6th if it’s a slow game) that my toes are frozen, so they need to start hogging* their rocks so I can warm up.

I’m as good a curler as I need to be. I can play for any team that’s missing a person and not be afraid of making a fool out of myself: I make most of my shots, and I’m a decent sweeper. I’m good enough that I can play and have fun, and that’s good enough for me.

*hogging a rock means not getting it across the Hog Line, or basically into play

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