I’ve been away. Unfortunately, my BJJ is suffering. I’ve been to one class in three weeks. I could barely remember anything. That’s why when I travel, I like to train at other gyms. I lose my practice so easily.
School starts soon and I’m pretending I don’t go back to work in a week. In my dodging of real life, I realize I have not yet finished updating you all on my tournament.
So, where was I? Oh, yes. The tournament. Since Cousin of Shark Girl was competing, Shark Girl’s aunt and uncle came to visit. What does this really mean, you may ask? Well, it turned into an Italian extravaganza. While Uncle of Shark Girl was preparing many and varied delicious items from his lovingly-tended garden, Cousin and I weighed in. We had to weigh in before we ate that night.
Just parking in the garage was interesting. Few women. Many tattoos. Not much hair. Big muscles. At registration, no one seemed to think I was competing. The registrar asked Cousin for his bracket. Cousin got his cards. I stood next to Cousin, looking straight at the registrar. “Ahem,” I cleared my throat. He looked at me and smiled. New Guy approached the table and asked for his cards. I waited politely and said, “I’d like to get my cards, too.” “Oh, I’m sorry. I thought you were the girlfriend.” I smiled at this. Cousin is younger than me and quite a hottie! (He’s blushing if he’s reading this. But it’s true!) I was flattered to be construed as Hottie Younger Cousin’s Girlfriend, but maybe that underscores the lack of women in the sport—this old bag must be this poor sod’s girlfriend, because old bags don’t compete.
With cards in hand, we went to weigh in. Cousin weighs in, no problem. Although I am standing in front of the weigher, clasping colored cards, I have to physically shake the person in front of me to get him to weigh me. Strange, I thought, I can’t be the only woman here. Am I that much out of the demographic?
And what a demographic it was. The tournament was combined with a bodybuilding event. There I was, dressed in my Gap khaki shorts and a red cardigan sweater (that sweater screams “I’m gonna kick your ass, bitch!” like nothing else I own). Most of the other ladies I saw were wearing black and spandex. High wedge heels. I did not see a real boob in the house (other than mine, and you can’t really count those as boobs, and I wasn’t looking at them). Most of these boobs were encased in very tiny bejeweled bikini tops. There was a septuagenarian woman who had wine barrel arms with veins popping out like caterpillars. As I stood there feeling quite out of place, I realized, “Wait! I signed up to be here with these folks.” Even though I’m a 41-year old plastic-surgery averse, conservative-clothes-wearing, suburban mother of two, I fit in here, maybe more than in suburbia.
After a tour around the exhibit hall, Cousin and I look at each other. Aunt and Uncle of Shark Girl were planning to come to watch the tournament the next day. Conservative, old school, Italian Aunt and Uncle of Shark Girl. Here’s an example of how it works in “the family”: Once Uncle of Shark Girl met some Dead Heads in a public bathroom. The Dead Heads were camping. They were washing their feet in the bathroom sink. There were probably other hijinks involved. Cousin can flesh out anything I’ve missed. But when Uncle got home, he said to Cousin, (read with Italian accent for correct intimidation factor) “[Cousin of Shark Girl], heef you hever go to one a dose concerts han’ act like dat, Hi kick you in da fanny. Han heef [Brother of Shark Girl and Reputed Dead Head] goes to dose concerts han' hacts like dat, Hi kick him in da fanny too, because ee’s a relative!”
“Maybe we should discourage them from coming,” Cousin and I both said on our way out. “I can’t have my mother shouting ‘O dio!’ while I’m on the mat!” Cousin exclaimed. I was more worried they would think it improper for a nice Italian girl to submission grapple. I didn’t want to risk a fanny-kicking from my uncle after a fanny-kicking on the mat.