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Published on August 24th, 2011 | by bane-ana



It happened again to me last night. I looked square in the face of that laughable question that we’ve all been asked at least once by our normal friends once we return from a derby weekend: “How much did you get paid?”

I’ve grown accustomed to this question, and used to answer it with, “Nothing, we do it for free” (insert beaming, prideful smile); this time was different.

I pulled my bar-stool closer to my inquisitive buddy. I have terrible hearing, which makes it almost impossible for me to audibly download anything a person says if we withdraw past an inch of kissing distance; it works fine in gay bars, but in this very Long Island bar (i.e., filled with nothing but total douchebags) I had to keep a distance and cup my hand to my ear to listen from a “safe” expanse for my buddy. I smiled and said that I made a bundle – more than I’d made all week at work!

My compensation started right when I walked through the doors of “Du” Burns Arena in Baltimore when O’Chit (CCRG) gave me the warmest hug I’d received since the last time we met. It was platonic, of course (as all Derbylove is if you are me), but it was sincere, and I knew she meant every inch of it. It was followed up by a hug of equal genuineness from Dairyland Doll, Mouse. I told my buddy how I met Mouse. Back at Regionals 2000Great, as the refs dealt with that pesky “jammerless jam” rule, I grabbed Mouse from the audience and we waltzed for the crowd during the prolonged time out.

My compensation was doubled when I was able to give Lady Quebeaum a (much needed!) shoulder rub before she took the track against the Dairyland Dolls. Quebeaum and I go waaaayyyyy back to the dark Ages of derby … 2007, when I was standing too close to the track during a Long Island Roller Rebels/Charm City bout, and she literally crashed into me. It was Derbylove at first sight! … or collision, depending on your unique perspective.

And speaking of collisions, I was honored to board with Joy Collision (derby’s first Super Heroine!) and Dolly Rocket (Joy’s vigilante counterpart) later that night on what is arguably the most comfortable couch in all of roller derby! (Joy’s and my relationship goes back to that 2007 bout as well – when I couldn’t pick my jaw up off the floor while marveling at her performance.)

At this point, my friend put his pint down and asked how getting a hug, sleeping on a couch, and giving a back-rub amounted to “compensation.”

Silly grown-up! Derby’s for kids! I broke it down simply for him:

O’ Chit’s hug wasn’t just a “hug;” it was symbolic of why I spent hours sitting in gridlock on the Jersey Turnpike dealing with that god-awful smell. It represented that camaraderie our sport so engenders. The week prior, the New York Shock Exchange met the Harm City Homicide for a triple header that also featured the talents of Gotham’s A and B teams, and visiting league, Denver Roller Dolls. I bought Chit’s ticket because, well, she needed one and I had the loot. Her HUGE hug in Baltimore was worth more than the cost of the ticket in New York, I told my friend.

And staying with Joy and Dolly? They are superstars! I explained to my confused (cut him a break, it was his fifth pint!) friend. I said, “Imagine you are miles away from family, from friends, from familiarity, and yet you still feel like you’re home. Imagine basking in the presence of those who radiate; imagine feeling the burning passion of two of derby’s finest.” When that didn’t make sense, I simply said, “Imagine getting to jam with Skip James only to have him offer his couch to you afterward” – this he understood.

“That sounds nice,” he replied with the sentiments of someone who has had three too many (you know, honest sentiments! Remember – a drunk person’s words are a sober person’s thoughts!) I told him that when I was amongst my beloved Charm City Roller Girls that “home” existed in the ether, and often fell on (and crushed) the wicked witches of my psyche. I told him how watching Charm City blocker extraordinaire, Holly GoHardly, booty-block the shit out of any opponents was bliss for me – to which no drug compares.

And I was honored to give Lady Quebeaum a shoulder rub – she needed one, for fuck’s sake! What would have happened if in some crucial moment, Quebeaum’s shoulder blade impeded her from executing her exceptional talents? Exactly! I’d never let me live it down!

Now tack onto all this getting to see friends that I don’t get to see often. I told my friend about Tripp N’ Dale from Carolina Rollergirls, and how lucky we all were (skaters, other refs, and fans alike) to have such an exceptional ref watching over the bout.

“You probably got a hug too …”

I smiled. “Tripp only gives the best of ‘em. What was I to do?”

In the end, my buddy finally got it. He said (and I quote verbatim here) – “You didn’t do it for money at all, did you? You did it for love?”

“No,” I said. “‘Love’ is that thing that divorced parents used to feel. ‘Love’ is that thing that you felt for your last ex-girlfriend (and probably feel for your subsequent future-ex). ‘Love’ is that song you played over and over a month ago and got sick of just as quickly as it swept you off your feet. ‘Love’ was what you felt for your goldfish before your eulogy to the sound of a toilet flush. I did this for Derbylove – and that is eternal.”

Such is derby. Such is life. Such is Derbylife.

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