25 February 2010

Shuffleboard: A Dialogue

Before this week, the most shuffleboard I'd seen was the beer-stained tabletop version they have at the Gaslight in South Orange.  But we're in Florida, where there are lots of retirees, and hence, lots of shuffleboard.  Last evening on the news, there was a whole thing about some shuffleboard club that was closing and how devastating that was because people had to belong to a club to join tournaments.

Generally, I'd say that these shuffleboard clubs are like the pool teams I encountered down in the Mon Valley.  This morning, walking down Flagler Avenue in New Smyrna Beach, we passed the Coronado Shuffleboard Club, and since I had lots of questions, I asked a lady (in a sparkly visor and earmuffs) about it:
Me: So are there any fights here ever?
Lady: No, I've never seen any.
Me: Are you really serious about those poles? Do you get them online and are they collapsible?
Lady: Yes, you can get them online and some of them are collapsible, but the Ace Hardware also has them.
Me: So do you play? [because at the time, she was sitting on the sidelines]
Lady: Yes, I'm waiting for my turn.  This side is the amateurs, this side is the professionals. [gesturing] I'm in the professional category, not because I'm so good but because of how many points I've racked up.
Me: How long do you do play?
Lady: We try to get to the point today where tomorrow we can just play for first, second and third places on the second day. Sometimes it takes three days if we get a crowd, but because it's so cold (about 55 degrees) not many people showed up.
(She'd come from a town 50 miles away because they're all in the same district.)
Me: How did you learn how to play? Did someone teach you?
Lady: Just practice, really.
Fascinating.  With that, I had to move along with my party, but seriously, when else do you have the opportunity to approach and talk with a professional shuffleboard player? I'm a bit biased, but as far as sports that retired people play, I think bocce is much more interesting and stimulating and graceful -- this is like curling with a little bit of paint drying thrown in - although I guess you need to know what to watch for, as with anything else.

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