Archive for May, 2011

Derby Wi(fe/ves)

It’s a bit of a joke, and yet the bond between derby wives is dead serious. Even if it sounds a bit Jr. High and silly from the outside, I wouldn’t advise messing with someone else’s wife to test how serious they are. Derby wives offer a sort-of formal, all-in-fun (sort of) way to recognize that some teammates are just going to be closer than others. It’s ok. Sometimes, much as you love all your sisters, you just need your derby wife there to kick your ass or pick it up.

Most of you (heck, all three of you likely to be reading this post) are certainly familiar with the concept of derby wives, but in case you’re not, here’s the deal. From the RollerCon website:

A derby wife is quite simply this –

1. She is the one person in this whole sport of roller derby that the very instant you looked at her, you felt like you’d known her since you were a fetus. She looked just like your best friend from fifth grade, or something she did reminded you of all the things you ever liked in anyone else.

2. She is the first person you’d call if you ever need to get bailed out of jail. (Or in my case, ever need to have an entire legal crusade started in your name.)

3. She’s the one who will be holding back your hair when you puke after drinking too much, and she won’t let anyone take your picture while doing it.

4. She’ll ride in the ambulance with you when you lose a tooth, break your wrist, or tear your ACL. She’ll make you laugh the whole way to the hospital, try to steal your pain medication (lovingly), and sneak your favorite food and a beer into recovery.

5. She’ll make her actual husband understand that if he loves her, he’s gonna have to put up with you, too, no matter how many times you come over forcing him to revisit all the derby-related shows on his Tivo that you missed.

6. She may not even be your best friend in the league or the sport, but she’d be the one you know will be the first one to back you up, even if you’re dead wrong. She’ll just tell you you’ve lost your fucking mind later in private, possibly kick your ass a little bit, and then be the only one who could ever talk your hotheaded ass into some reason.

If you can find more than one derby wife who can meet those needs, then you are lucky indeed, but myself? I’m a one derby wife gal.

It’s hard to explain to non-derby folks, but that’s the explanation I keep turning back to when people ask.  Now I’m a traditional girl… one wife would be quite enough, thankyouverymuch. But that’s not the way it is for everyone; some girls assemble harems, others set up polygynous sorts of groups or clusters or sister wives, and some even remain single throughout their derby careers. One girl in our league has always insisted that she have derby mistresses; her wife (maybe wives, now) knows and accepts that. Others have formed groups that stick together: three or four or even more. Some girls get derby married almost immediately upon joining the league (perhaps after the first embarrassing drunken outing), others take their time. For me, it’s just way too important to choose in a bar at 2am. If this is going to be the bitch you’re going to trust to get you home on a night when you went to the box twice in a row jamming at an away bout and had to drink your feelings into stoopid oblivion afterwards — it had better be a bitch you trust with your life. And do you really know that after one night? Maybe?

Derby wives are weird, we all *do* know that, you guys. And they’re fucking ours. Roller Derby is queer in many ways: our relationships are queer, we make up our own rules and arrangements and relationships as they suit us, and fuck tradition and heteronormativity and patriarchy (someone should really write about polyamory in derby…). But that doesn’t mean that the system is perfect, or immune to the problems of other types of relationships. We just don’t talk about the problems very often.

But my point, ahem.  Derby wives are immediate and they’re forever. While the “OMG we totally get each other, and I have your back, so no one had better even think of fucking with you” feeling may be immediate, the proposal itself may not be. Which means, someone else might get there before you. If derby breakups were more common (and why aren’t they?), maybe it wouldn’t be such a big deal. But if you’re holding a girl’s hair back while she’s puking, or gathering up her things at 3am while she’s half passed out after spending most of the evening making out with some girl or guy you’ve never seen before, pumping her full of coffee to get her to work a few hours after leaving the bar; or if she’s vigorously defending derby watching nights to your husband or wife, or piling your drunken ass into the back of her car to sleep off a colossally-bad night — and you’re still thinking she’s the one for you? Propose as soon as the color’s returned to her face (or yours). Propose to that girl now. Because if you don’t, someone else will.

And it’s not just the single girls that you have to worry about; you can’t count on married girls to keep their hands off. NOT a fan. I mean, three girls get together and decide they just can’t bear not to be derby married to each other, who am I to stand in the way? But when married girls start picking up singles to add to their group, that’s not cool. Just the way I see it; not everyone would agree, certainly.

But really, I’m not the derby marrying type. I’m super-picky and way serious and take far too long getting to know people, and I shouldn’t be allowed to go on the market. There should be a sign: You must have skin THIS THICK to enter the derby dating pool.