Apparently, Fencing Isn’t For Adults

This is a post about fencing, as in sword fighting. Not fencing as in building fences around things. This is a crucial difference that search engines don’t seem to understand. When you Google fencing, you’re going to learn a lot about the cost of installing convenient and attractive fences around your property. I was thinking about a nice picket fence for myself until I remembered that I live in a second-story apartment building.

I started boxing last summer and I really enjoy it. It’s good to feel in shape again. I’ve been idly contemplating trying some other forms of physical activity to complement my current training. I don’t really feel the need to go back into a martial art since I’m already learning how to hit people with my hands.

What I really want to learn is how to hit people with a sharp piece of metal. I want to learn fencing because I’m a nerd and nerds seem drawn to swords as a general trend.

I did an idle Google search the other day and came up with a few websites about fencing classes local to my area. The initial results were not encouraging. Most hadn’t been updated in over five years.

Regardless, I plunged ahead and finally located a phone number that was in service. I called it and a woman answered. I was expecting the usual greeting: “thank you for calling such-and-such academy of stabby things, this is . . .”

Instead, my call is answered with a curt “Yes?”

“Uh,” I say. “I found this number because I was looking for fencing classes.”

“Yeah, yeah, I do fencing,” the woman on the other end of the phone says.

Well, okay, that’s encouraging. We got off to a rocky start but at least I’ve found something more promising than an abandoned website. I ask her if she’s taking new students; she says she is. I ask her if she’s taking complete beginners, she says yes, as long as they’re already in shape.

Translation: Fatties need not apply.

I assure her that I’m fairly active and I’m in good shape, which is true.

I ask about her specialty and what style of fencing she teaches. I learned from my reading online that there are three kinds of fencing weapons: foil, epee, and saber.

Saber sounds like the most fun to me because it involves both slashing as well as stabbing movements. The various guides I read said it’s traditional to learn foil first before moving on to the others.

Whatever, I just want to have a sword in my hand and learn how to poke people with it, all in the name of sport and fitness, of course.

She explains the tradition of starting with foil, “because it’s the hardest” before moving on to the other styles. I don’t mention that I think saber sounds the coolest. I get the feeling it won’t earn me any points here.

I ask about prices, which are higher than I expected but not outside of my means.

I’m just about to ask if I can come for a trial class to see if I like it when she asks me “how old is your child?”

“Uh,” I say. “My child?”

“Yes,” she says impatiently. “How old is your child? I don’t work with kids under 10. They don’t have enough focus.”

“Oh,” I say, glad this is a phone call so she can’t see my embarrassment even as I’m certain she can hear it in my voice. “No, I’m asking about classes for an adult. For myself.”

“This is an after-school program,” she says.

“So . . . ” I venture, hoping for more information. When none is forthcoming, I take a stab at it. “So not for adults?”

Her silence indicates that I’m either correct or an idiot for asking an obvious question. Perhaps both.

“Do you take adult students?” I ask. “Ever?”

Surely I can’t be the only person who has decided at the doddering old age of twenty-seven to decide, you know, I think I’d like to learn a new sport!

I’m sure adults try this sort of thing all the time. After all, this feels like an adult sport. If there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that the signature of any adult sport is how much gear you need to buy or rent. You can’t just pick up a ball from the sporting goods store when you’re a grown-up. You need to have gear and that gear is always expensive. I can’t walk out of an REI without dropping a hundred bucks when all I went there for was a dehydrated meal and a map book.

Apparently, I’m wrong about adults and fencing. It seems the fencing instruction train left when I was a wee lad and I didn’t even realize it because I was born to parents who preferred the unrefined barbarism of football rather than the civilized art of poking holes in people with sharp metal bits. They missed their opportunity to raise a world-class fencer, even though at the time, I certainly would have hated it.

“Sometimes we do adult classes in the summer,” she says without conviction. “When the kids are off doing competitions or out of school. Try calling back in May, we might have something for you.”

Translation: We don’t do adult classes ever. The fact that you want to try this is laughable. Go away, old person. Go away and be old somewhere else.

Sigh.

I promise I’ll call back in May to see about starting a class. We hang up. The whole experience was vaguely bewildering. I’m still coming to terms with the fact that I’m now past my prime for wanting to learn something new.

The only things I’m certain of, besides my waning mortality, is that I won’t be calling back in May and that my fencing career is over before it even began.

The Irony Singularity

You’re familiar with the singularity, right? Basically, a point of mass so compact and so massive that it creates a black hole from which not even light can escape. There are other uses for the word singularity, such as the potential technological singularity, but I think the gravitational singularity is perhaps the most well known.

I would like to propose the creation of a new type of singularity: the irony singularity. They are caused when a statement is so ironic that nothing else could ever achieve a greater level of irony; we might say that this statement is infinitely ironic.

Now, research on the existence of irony singularities is still very much in its early stages, seeing as how I only postulated their existence a few minutes ago. Nevertheless, I believe we have a viable candidate that may prove the existence of irony singularities. Further research needs to be done, but take a look at this:

 GOP strategists are trying very hard to remind potential voters in the 2016 presidential election that Hillary Clinton (who hasn’t even decided whether to run yet) will be old when she hypothetically assumes office. Like, really old.

The article goes on to note that Ronald Reagan was a year older when he assumed office than Hillary would be in 2016, John McCain was three years older (although this was something we did criticize him about, to be fair), and Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole was four years older when he ran. So, you know; just throwing that out there for your consideration.

So, let’s parse this out: the Republican party, which is the party of old white men,  is trying to point out that a candidate is too old. The Republican party, the conservative party, wants you to know that “voting for Hillary Clinton would be like going back in time,” even though the very definition of conservatism is the promotion of traditional ideas in opposition to progressivism.

If the irony were any more massive, it would already have its own gravitational field. Maybe it does. Further research is required.

I can’t think of a better example that shows how off-kilter conservatism is in this country when they feel it’s politically sound to paint their opponent (notably an opponent who hasn’t even announced an intention to run) as having the same problems and weakness that they themselves have. “Don’t vote for her,” they are saying, “she’s old, just like us and we all know you hate us. So . . . vote for us instead?”

Okay. It all makes perfect sense to me now.
Source: Elf Only Inn

 

Of all the strategies to use to try and turn voters away from a potential candidate, why go with this one? Did you think we wouldn’t notice the median age of your own candidates? Seriously?

The frustrating part is, if you’ll allow me to be serious for a moment, I think it’s really unfortunate that conservatism has run into a reef and is sinking quickly. A revitalized Republican party that catered to a larger demographic than Tea Partiers, old white men, and the religious right might actually have a few good ideas. As it stands right now, though, whatever good ideas their members do have are lost in a sea of noise and reactionary bullshit. I’d like it if that changed, but I don’t think it will. At least, I don’t think it will in time for 2016.