The trek up to Essex Junction, Vermont from Arlington, Massachusetts is roughly three-and-a-half hours. My erstwhile companions, Dreadnought and Johnny Deep, had started a game of “cows” once we he hit the Vermont border, raking up one point for every herd or single cow seen on their sides of the ford Taurus. Each of them howled in dismay whenever we passes a graveyard for its appearance heralded a clearing of the tally on whomever’s side of the car the cemetery happened to be on. Our visual branding of cattle was merely a side effect of driving up I-89 to watch the Green Mountain Derby Dames take on New Hampshire Roller Derby’s Skate Free or Die.
Actually a cow... This bastard cost me the game, as Dread's iPhone confirmed its bovine genetics. Thanks a lot, Emo-Udders.
My job as the announcer for NHRD meant that I’d be separated from the missus and Johnny for much of the bout, as I crept along the side of the track like a stalking baboon with a microphone. We arrived at our hotel in Burlington, Vermont at 2:10 pm, with snow beginning to fall in slow, heavy clusters. Weather can be a deterrent for many roller derby fans, but this is Vermont, where snow is merely a condiment and ice comprises much of their building materials. After check in, we raced over to the Champlain Expo Center, for I believed I had to arrive for check-in at three.
The Green Mountain Derby Dames have a regular spot in the Expo’s event rotation, and the staff of the Expo were a younger, hands-on answer to the generous Shriners that run the Aleppo Auditorium where Boston holds their games. Arriving in the expansive parking lot of the Expo, a massive sports compound any derby league, or cult leader, would kill for, we walked through the loading doors of the rink, into a sea of green and black shirts that could only be GMDD’s support staff. Introducing myself as Pelvis Costello, I was shown the announcer table and informed that my co-commentator, the lovely Candy Coronary, would arrive shortly.
A note about GMDD: they are the living custodians of Xenia, the Ancient Greek laws of hospitality. Like Odysseus, my dog's favorite epic hero, I was treated to kind faces and asked about what I needed before the start of the bout. My offers to help fell on deaf ears, though the bout setup machine GMDD has in place is impressive enough to not need a super-god like myself. Before game time, I was introduced to Candy, a former skater-turned-announcer, whose demeanor, like her derby namesake, threatened my heart with its sugary deliciousness.
NHRD warming up.
Calling this game was a personal highlight in my short announcing career. I tend not to brag about myself. Rather, I have the desire to deify my friends and loved ones. But I was on fire. I explained rules to the crowd while keeping the play-by-play rolling with Candy. There were references to NH and VT's longstanding feuds, the Hobbit, and how derby was were settling our differences.The crowd was awesome and responsive. You want to know more about it, jump over to Power Jammers.
The last jam of the bout tied up the game 69-69, which threw us into a jam off. Basically, we kept going until there was a definitive winner. Make Out Bandit scored ten points to Basher Barbie's 3, ruining my adolescent chuckling on the score, but giving NHRD the win. Floating on the boos and death-threats of die-hard fans, we made our way to the after party where the two teams were able to laugh and make merry together, while we all waited hours to be served food.
I would speak more about the night spent at the hotel, and how one British guest took exception to the celebratory mood of some NHRD people, but like Lovecraft, I dare not speak of it.
"It was just scary, okay? Damn, what do you expect from
a dude who's scared and confessing his deeds on his death bed?!
The monster was mean and all GRRRR!" - from the unpublished story
"Look you had to be there, all right?"