I had no idea where Silver Springs was and how far it was from the conference center I was staying at. But I made it to the evening open épée fencing at the DC Fencer’s Club with a half hour to spare. It always pays to leave early (and take a cab).
The head coach, Janusz Smolenski, sat down with me in between students and let me pitch him the book. He was very
interested in the fencing but even more so in my last name, recognizing both the Lithuanian and Polish influences. Then he invited me to fence. I told him I had not brought my gear and before I could say any more he suited me up with gear from the salle and paired me up with my first opponent. I fenced for two hours with a short break to talk to the whole group that Janusz organized when some twenty students had filled the room. Now I thought the room was filled but he told me their six strips (it is a big salle!) are packed with sixty plus students in the fall when everyone is back from vacation. I had way too much fun fencing – getting beaten by a young man and finding some equal matches against others my age and younger. Soaked from my workout I got a ride to the metro from a fencer named Jay, who also happens to be a journalist and a budding novelist.
I left them two copies of Open Wounds and a lot of perspiration. The only problem was that I had so much fun fencing I forgot to take any photos. I had the camera but it never made it out of the bag. The photos are curtesy of their website!
Thank you Jay and Janusz. I hope to be back in the fall for other events. Only next time I’ll have my own equipment.