Glory, fame and fortune founder on the frozen ground of a foreign land

By: 
‘dinodave’ Fuqua
Thursday, February 6, 2020
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As I watched the beer bellied curling winner of the 2018 Winter Olympics step on the podium I had an epiphany. Thanks to bowling and curling, my childhood dreams of either becoming a professional or Olympic athlete were still alive! Curling especially intrigued me. I had no idea what was going as they slid those stones across the ice, but I knew with all that sweeping going on, I would have a distinct advantage over any young millennial. The Rocky theme song started to play in my head. Gold medal visions danced in my head. Perhaps my hometown would throw me a parade or even a statue. I could display that gold medal on my fridge next to my 2nd place brownies ribbon from the county fair of 2014. Ahh….yes, the golden adulation deepened my daydream.

​I called my buddy Russ, “Hey, I want to go curling!” By coincidence he replied, “I just visited my sister in Missoula, and I went curling for the first time a few weeks ago. It was awesome! I also decided to start an Olympic team.”

“Wow”, I thought, this must be destiny. “I’m in! When do we start training?”

​Russ then answered, “Well you have to try out for my team first.” Just one paragraph before this, I actually called Russ my buddy. “You have to beat me. If you beat me, then you are on the team”. Well, he was the one with all this curling experience. I guess fair is fair. We then started to look for a place to go Curling.

​If only we could go to Canada. But Canada is another country, so it must be incredibly far away. Out of curiosity we asked Alexa, “Alexa, how far away is Canada?” Alexa replied, “I’m sorry, I don’t know that answer.” I tried again, “Alexa, how far is Canada….Eh?” She then promptly replied “155 miles to the border.” “What? Russ, did you know Canada was so close? Why doesn’t anybody ever go there? Let’s go curling!” Russ agreed and plans were made for an upcoming weekend.

​We arrived at the border and the guard asked what we were going to do in Canada. I was honest. “Curling!!” The guard replied with a look sterner than a curling stone. “Pull over please.” I think my answer was a first for him. The border was actually very easy, and we were on our way. We made no previous arrangements, all we had was an address to a curling center in Regina and we thought we would just show up and hope for the best. Russ and I found the curling center and walked in like two kids in a candy store. We told the fellow at the counter we travelled from Montana just to go curling not knowing what to expect. He couldn’t have been nicer, “Oh yoo bet! Have at er! The league comes in aboot an hour or soo, so just help yerselves until then!” He wouldn’t even take our money. It turned out that every Canadian we met that trip was just as nice. I got the impression that Canada and the U.S. are like my middle school playground and the Canadians were the 6th graders. The 6th graders were the nice kids that didn’t dare go to the 8th grade side of the playground, because 8th graders are unpredictable, even though they shared the same playground.

​Russ and I put on the special curling shoes and headed to the ice. I only fell twice. I grabbed the first stone as we both did a couple practice runs. I was a bit nervous. This was my first Olympic tryout after all, and I really wanted this. I remember watching the Olympics and tried to emulate their style as best as I could. I saw how much they stretched and tried to do the same. I pulled a groin. True story. That didn’t stop me though, Russ was going down and I was going to make his Olympic team. The score was back and forth. It was just us two, so we didn’t have sweepers. We didn’t need them anyway, we were Americans. As fate would have it, the score came down to the last stone thrown. It was all up to me. If I scored with my stone then fame, fortune, glory and the adulation of every woman would all be mine. Like a champion I blocked out my pulled groin and gave that stone a gentle curl. The slow anticipation of the slide across the ice was almost more than I could bare. It looked like a good line. My pulse began to beat faster. My heart jumped to my throat. My groin felt like it did also. The stone eased closer to the middle. All I had to do was beat Russ’s last throw and I’m on the team, could it be! The stone slowed to a finish just short and the mighty Casey had struck out. Destiny denied. My “buddy” Russ started laughing at me. “I guess you’re not on the team, try back in four more years.”

“Hey Russ”, I took my defeat like a man. “Do you think we could look for a bowling ball while we are here? I think it’s cheaper in Canada.”

Dave Fuqua is a Glendive native. You can find out more about him at dinodaveadventures.com. He can be reached at Makoshikadave@gmail.com.

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