Saturday, September 22, 2007

Not Since Chaplin

This week I crossed off two things that I've wanted to do for a while.

Thursday night I started the first of four fencing classes. I was quite nervous, which translated into a more-than-healthy concern over what to wear to a fencing class (I went with capris, a t-shirt, and my bright green tennis shoes). As with most things in life, it was far less scary once it began.

There were ten of us there, two college freshmen girls who were rather clingy and giggly, two girls who seemed closer to my age, two women older than me - one dressed in a coordinating workout suit and one who is the kind who gets chatty when she's nervous, two guys who are probably a little younger than me and are friends, and one more guy who clung to the wall, avoiding us, while we waited for the teacher to come. They all seem rather nice. I really did not know what to expect of people who sign up for fencing class. At least I was not the least bit surprised when the teacher showed up with long hair. I was getting worried at the distinct lack of D&D-ness. I mean, it's fencing for crying out loud!

My nervousness, aside from the potenial geekiness, also stemmed from the whole gym-class associations. It turned out okay, though. My favorite moment was when we were lined up across the gym floor, practicing the "parry 4" movement over and over again with invisible swords. The lady next to me (coordinating outfit) turned to me and said "This is so embarrassing, isn't it? I just feel silly," and I realized that I wasn't feeling the least bit silly. I really think it's because of teaching - sometime in the last four years, I just stopped caring about looking silly while doing stuff like that. Not that I'm immune to the worries of the judgementals, but rather I was so focused on practicing, that I never stopped to care about the oddity of practicing a movement over and over again with an invisible sword. Yay me!

After a brief introduction to the types of swords by the instructor (which was cutely interrupted by a man who asked if we would mind if his daughter had her picture taken in the gym. The class is taught at the school where they filmed "High School Musical", and apparently the major basketball stuff in the movie was filmed right where we were learning to fence. Our teacher waved him in, and he led in a cute little girl who went wide-eyed as she looked at the red-and-white banners hung in a gy she apparently knew well.) We warmed up by kicking around some balls, then stretched, then learned some basic footwork (advancing, thrust, retreat) and that "parry 4". At that point, the teacher said that we should do what we probably all came for - suit up and poke at each other with swords. We sorted through the equipment and each donned half of a 3/4 sleeved shirt, a plastic breastplate (well, that was just the girls who had to wear those), a leotard-type thing, a glove, and the helmet/facemask thing. We each took a sword, too (I got a saber), and then paired off and started attempting to fence.

I will say this - my mother would hate it. There was constant metal-on-metal scraping for the next 20 minutes or so, which turned a bit musical once in a while when someone would hit the bellguard of one of the swords just right and it would "ding" like, well, a bell. It wasn't long before we were all rather sweaty. Mostly due to the facemasks and the outfits, rather than the actual workout. Bangs are very uncomfortable when squished against the forehead in those helmets, I found.

I learned some things, though, and I'm trying something new. I'm looking forward to the next lesson, actually. I'll be a bit late, thanks to parent-teacher conferences this week, but I'll be there to get my geek on.

The second new thing I've done is attend an event that I've always thought "Oh, I should go to that!" when I hear about it on the radio. One of my favorite NPR shows, Radio West, did a live broadcast last night, followed by screenings of two Charlie Chaplin films. One of the films, Easy Street, was even accompanied by a live organist. I met Heidi and Brent there, and we enjoyed watching the people who attended in period costume (the best was a fellow in tails, top hat, white gloves and scarf - very charming!). Admission was only a quarter, and I was happy to see both a full house and such a diverse group age-wise.

It was interesting to watch these films, since I hadn't ever seen a Chaplin movie in it's entirety. I can't say that I found them particularly funny. I certainly appreciated his talent - his grace, timing, expressions, and ability to make it look effortless really are remarkable. Still, it's just not my kind of humor. I think, though, that the best way to watch a Chaplin movie is in a crowded theater. It made such a difference to be surrounded by people laughing and reacting with such child-like joy. There were kids in the audience who laughed loudly, but there were some grown-ups who laughed even louder. It really was remarkable to hear so many people enjoying something so simple as a fellow accidentally eating a ribbon that uncoiled into his pasta. I'm glad I finally saw "City Lights", but I'm even happier that I saw it how I did.


  1. you rock! Fencing sounds awesome, was through a school or rec center?

  2. Hey! I took a fencing class about 18 months ago through the U, is that how you are doing it? Fun, isn't it? Is Kenny your teacher? There was a tournament at the end for our class and I'm proud to say that I'm the winner!