What weighs 20 kilograms and its sole purpose is to be thrown at a house? If you said a bag of rocks you would not only be close but I’ll bet the neighbours worry about you.
The answer, of course, is a rock. But it’s the very special kind of rock that’s made of rare granite and has a handle and when you “throw” it, you actually slide it along some ice and rotate it so that it curls so that you can make a sport out of it called “curling.”
You may wonder why I have curling on the brain instead of, basically, nothing much at all, which is usually what’s on my mind, but if you’ve been anywhere near a television set recently you’ll know why. Aside from spending two hours every day or night in front of the TV clicking away trying to find something decent to watch on Netflix I’m sure you can’t help but have noticed the fact that curling seems to be on TV perpetually and incessantly these days. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Even if you hate TV curling as much as televised golf many people are finding out if you watch something often enough and long enough, you can become, shall we say, swept up in the game. People who, until recently, didn’t know a hack from a hogline are suddenly calling their relatives in Winnipeg saying, “Did you see that Alberta skip pull off a double take-out raise to the button to steal four?!” To which your sister who hasn’t been in a curling rink in her entire life responds excitedly, “Yeah but it was all set up when the third peeled those long guards!”
For those four people out there whose remote clicker hasn’t by some miracle found the sports channels yet during this pandemic let me just mention that somehow the curling people have pulled off a safe “bubble” location in Calgary where every curling competition you can think of is being held, one after the other, and each competition takes about a week and a half and contains, by most estimates, about 450 curling “draws.” So now you don’t have to swear at Netflix as much as you usually do.
And I for one am grateful. I’m not one of those who thinks that watching curling is a bit like watching paint grow or watching grass dry. Having about a hundred uncles and aunts and cousins who were farmers, growing up, we were always at the Farmer’s Bonspiel down at the old Arena every winter. And in high school at the Comp, our Phys Ed class would all hike up the ASH Hill to the little Michener Center Curling Rink whereupon we would slip and slid and crash and bash around the four sheets of ice “learning’ how to curl. This was about 10 times the value of pi better than Math class any day.
And many years ago I was a temporary, honorary fill-in for a friend whose brother couldn’t be at a bonspiel, and in spite of my inexperience, ineptitude and innate incompetence we (they) won a prize! (Pretty much everyone wins a prize in local curling bonspiels.)
Mine was a clock radio. A state of the art unit featuring digital numbers, an alarm that sounds like a prison break and a radio that could bring in at least four or five AM stations! In fact, that curling prize is still rockin’ out on my bedside table to this day.
But now I gotta get going. The TV is on in the other room and I can hear the curling calling to me: “Hurry! Hurry hard!”
Harley Hay is a Red Deer author and filmmaker.