Sweat and Tiffany’s – Goodbye Seattle
Okay. Okay. The downhill was worse than the uphill. The walk to Salle Auriol on Harrison was long with stretches of darkness, empty parking lots and offices. At one point I saw a guy on a bike going up a hill I was coming down. We were on a small level space between two monsters. He rested a few moments then put his bike into gear and started pedaling. I really felt for him and hoped he had at least 21 speeds to choose from.
I love fencing salles.
I really do.
The clashing of swords, the sounds of coaches speaking with heavy Polish, Russian, or Hungarian accents, and the energy of fencers competing and honing their craft. Sometimes there’s laughing and smiling, even though they’ve been stuck hard in the chest. Everybody learns from everybody. And as new meat, people swarm to fence against me because I bring new techniques to learn about and figure out how to defeat. It’s a great place. Did I mention the smell of wet and dry sweat?
Salle Auriol is just such a wonderful place. The business manager,Catherine, met me and gave me a tour of the salle, hooked me up with the three épée fencers in that night, talked to me about my book (she’s a budding novelist herself) and recommended a good place to get food and drink. I fenced against three opponents (I’m probably getting their names wrong so I hope they forgive me) Carmella, Marla, and Greg. Carmella took me apart quickly in my first series of bouts, though I was glad to get a few runs of touches in to remind myself of the skill I can call upon with a little bit of focus. Basically Carmella was good and she gave me a lesson that I only had to pay for in sweat.
Greg was next and he’s only been fencing five months. I focused my work on point control, trying for stop thrusts and thrusts to his wrist. He’s a researcher, doing work on cancer and the immune system. He face lights up when he talks about his work and about this sport he’s found called fencing.
Marla works at Tiffany’s and loves it. She’s also a good épéeist. We were well matched and traded the first two bouts, both close. Her coach was watching from a seat at the end of the strip and gave advice like, “You have to get out of the way of his blade,” and “Don’t let him hit your wrist,” after I scored three touches in a row in just that spot. It made us both laugh. Nothing like a coach with a good sense of humor. Marla won the final bout 5-4 on a series of infighting attacks and ripostes that ended with her final downward thrust hitting me in the ankle. Touché, Marla, you earned it.
After a late dinner at Serious Pie (that’s it’s name, really) I walked another half hour to the light-rail station (flat with no hills) and just about midnight, walked back in the hotel front door.
I’m ready to be home. I know my wife is ready for me to be home. Too much traveling this week and too much double duty on her part keeping the family moving and attending to her consulting work. She’s definitely had the harder work of the two of us.
Oh yeah. And there’s the world cup of rugby final to see.