Thursday, October 8, 2009
Darth Vader, Dragon Lady and the Maytag Repairman
On the other side is the less chronicled but perhaps even more insidious villain - Darth Vader Dad. I'm not quite sure why this parent is not usually viewed with the same distain as Dragon Lady. Maybe it is because there aren't as many dads hanging in the rink, so their behavior is usually more stealth than that of the omni-present, stereotypical skating mom. If you have never encountered Darth Vader, here are some of the signs:
1. He is in the rink more than any skating mom and sometimes more than the coach or the Zamboni driver.
2. He never seems to change clothes.
3. He gives "pep talks" to his skater before every session, lives and dies by every move during a normal day and then "debriefs" his skater after each lesson, letting him or her know exactly what they did wrong and how to fix it (a more subtle form of coaching from the boards).
4. He is never without Starbucks.
5. He is never without some communication device like a laptop, Blackberry or iPhone from which he continues to conduct his business while never taking his eyes off the ice.
6. He is in constant communication with the coach or choreographer, even during a session. This includes but is not limited to: hand signals, winks, frowns, gestures, grunts, coughs or - yes - texting the coach!
7. At competitions, he is the master schmoozer in public and the master intimidator if he is one-on-one with his skater's competitor, like in a locker room or an elevator.
8. He smiles with his mouth but not his eyes when he talks to you because he is always assessing to see if your knowledge is greater than his.
9. He sharpens his skater's blades because no one can do it better than he can.
10. He is an expert on absolutely everything, including IJS scoring, because he MUST know it all.
You know, if we're truly honest with ourselves, we've all ventured to the Dark Side of spin dry at one time or another while being in this sport - mostly early on in our skating adventure and probably at a qualifying competition. That's where the pressure is greatest and where our DL and DV tendencies seem to come out. For most of us, too, we recognize this and take a step back from the precipice. We may dangle a toe over the edge, but we don't go there. It's like putting bleach in with your dark clothing. You only do it once and it becomes a lesson learned.
However, for those parents who don't know when to stop - for the parents who guzzle bleach while convincing themselves it will make them stronger and give them super powers - the results always seem to be the same. They are on terminal spin dry, sucking the fluids out of everyone they drag into the machine with them until, finally, their skater is all washed up. Where is the Maytag Man when you really need him? He would be the perfect referee. The only problem is that DV and DL would be calling him day and night from the depths of the machine they broke themselves. Even he couldn't fix it, but at least he wouldn't be lonely anymore..