The Widow 'Hood Photo: Art Lee

Published on March 9th, 2012 | by Pelvis Costello

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Photo: Art Lee

New Derby Widows Part II: Other places to end up

After the last article, I received emails, Facebook comments and texts (how the hell did you get my number?) asking me about the other widows that I only mentioned in passing. What about the coaches? What about refs? What about the men that hate everything about the sport and do whatever they can to cause drama? I’ve heard your questions, friends, and I’m going to expand on the first two and barely touch the last, as my Y chromosome is flaring up and ready to drop dimes on bad behavior from our lady widows for no constructive reason other than equality.

Sometimes you’re imbued with the gift of gab, or an obsession with excessively complicated rules. Maybe you’ve a mind for strategy or team building. Regardless, your partner recognized your skills and was able to convince the team to roll the dice and give you a job that ties you to their league that is both exhilarating and complicated. My new widows, it’s rare that you’ll be in these situations from the get-go. But if you are, here are the pros and cons of each sitiation:

REFEREES/ANNOUNCERS
They’re both needed in the sport, though the refs’ jobs have a consistently direct effect on the game. Announcers can also effect change with coaching and cheerleading, though those days are going the way of the derby-girl tutu (though I really think that the tutu is unfairly maligned by the sport’s resident sticks-up-the-bums). Regardless, every game, announcers and refs are there, interacting with the crowd and teams respectively.

Pros: You are part of the sport. You’ve got responsibilities, your own sub-community that allows you to have an individual experience outside of your partner’s direct life. That’s wonderful. Hell, your work might take you to games your spouse isn’t even playing in, which is good, because the biggest con of these jobs is moot when you’re officiating or calling the games of other teams. Because when you’re not…

Cons: …Someone’s going to say this eventually: your position is an unfair advantage/bias toward your spouse. It’s often bullshit. This is some sad jerk who is likely complaining because he or she would do exactly what they’re insinuating. You may think it doesn’t matter, but a lot of energy might have to be expended giving that squeaky wheel the grease it needs to be quiet. And you have to stay out of that fight. Dust it off your shoulder and weather the storm. Derby careers are thankfully short, and your position means you can outlast most buttheads.

COACHES
You’re the A manager of your spouse’s team. Or maybe you’re a speed coach, or lineup manager. Regardless, you are so ingrained in this team that you’ve got access, prestige, and the chance to make friends with skaters in a way that other widows or volunteers rarely experience. You can bro down with them on travel games. They come to love you in a way that makes you very close to the team, for the most part. Don’t let it get to your head beyond the fact you’re that invested in their success.

Pros: You’ve got a real knack for this and after several games and practices your successes can be measured and proven. Being off the track, you get to see the strengths and weaknesses of the team, but your link to it makes your feedback welcome instead of bleacher-based criticism. And if your skills assist in a win, amazing.

Cons: The team is not the baby that can keep a relationship together. If you’ve got problems and stress in your marriage, good luck keeping them out of this sphere. You can’t keep it out of this. People talk. And your conduct matters. People are watching. If you treat your team like the mw4w section of Craigslist, your goodwill melts away. And, if you break up with your partner, it’s rare that the team will decide that their coach is more valuable than their dues-paying teammate.

COMMITTEE HEAD
We talked about security and other smaller jobs in Part One. In this instance, your innate abilities or work experience have made you the perfect candidate for a committee in your partner’s league that they’re unable to fill with a skater. Hawking and ordering merch, planning events and bouts – none of that would work without you.

Pros: Resume builder! Being in charge of bout production or PR in a managerial capacity is work experience. Trust me, the work can lead to paying work you love. It’s an eye-catching thing to put on the ol’ Vitae.

Cons: It’s like this: no one liked the job so they didn’t take it. You took it on, made it work, and people believe they could do better. Also, the more you do, the more you want to take on. Quickly, you’re buried. Only take on enough that requires the least amount of stress. You’re not going to get as much recognition for everything you do, so changing the world is not worth your personal health and free time. If you need more than five drinks to take the edge off, throw on a monkey suit instead. You don’t want to wind up hating everyone involved with the sport because they can’t set up the track while you’re fighting with the venue staff about where you can put vendor tables.

TOTAL WAD OF POO
All right, as promised, here’s a note on the attention-starved, manipulative partners who are threatened by derby:

If your partner is that crazy, follow Dan Savage’s advice and DTMFA.

Peace be with you, suckas.

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Pelvis Costello


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