|Curious Little Marks
So I got home from the park yesterday and felt a bit achy. That seems pretty normal these days… I know it’s off topic, but don’t you feel stupid feeling old when you’re still in your twenties? So many of us talk about the old days, when we could fight for ten hours a day, three days a week, and still have the energy to hop in the car for a three-day road trip. Back when we were “young.” Then there’s today, when we’re all twenty-something (or, God forbid, thirty-something) and we can’t stand up without some weird tickle in our knees (“My Claw-sense is tingling!”) and can’t fight for more than an hour or two without starting to wheeze like a Wetlander hopped up on asthma medicine. It’s so depressing. I prefer the theory that we were just excited youngsters, and only remember the fun parts of Amtgard, as opposed to the unfun parts when we ached the entire next day. It’s the least depressing theory.
Anyway, so I was achy, slept like a baby, took a shower… and found bruises on my body.
Bruises don’t really surprise me. I used to bruise all the damned time as a kid. My knees and legs would be covered with ‘em from running into tables or falling over; it was a normal part of life, at least for someone as clumsy as me. More recently, I had a large purple and yellow stain on my left forearm – I can’t even remember how I got that one. The point is, bruises don’t startle me. They just make me curious.
So now that I’m curious, I got myself thinking. Bruises don’t happen by themselves. They’re like Amtgarders -- they need a cause. Did I bump into something? I know I bump into things a lot, but these bruises are in weird locations, and I haven’t got a bruise that way in over a decade. It’s almost like I bumped into traffic. Did I get beat up and not notice it? Possible; I’m a target of the aggression of many unstable people, and they might’ve hit me over the head, causing me to lose my memory… erm. Am I bulimic? I should be so lucky. No, none of those theories make sense. In fact, now that I look a little closer, those little marks fit the size and placement of a flatted, mule-thrown wrap-shot. My detective skills have pulled me around to the only remaining culprit: Amtgard did it.
Alas! My Amtgard injuries have been far and few between until now. There was that one time as a kid when Kyran fell on my head, causing a pocket of blood to swell up in my skull. And there was that other time when Aramithris hit me in the neck, causing the world to shrink as I fell into the mud at Clan. And who can forget the time Guy hit me in the arm so many times that it failed to function the rest of the day? To this litany of injuries I now add my mysterious, inexplicable bruises.
I suppose I could complain to someone; the Amtgard rulebook is very clear that Amtgard weapons should never leave marks. The dangerous weapons and dangerous people would be properly dealt with, right? Weeeellllll…. I dunno about that. In fact, I think complaint would get me nowhere. By now, we’ve all learned the proper response to complaints of any sort of injury.
“It’s a contact sport.”
I hate that. I hate it for many reasons, too. My hate of that explanation comes from many angles; it is flanked by my hate. For starters, it’s just plain rude. I mean, there you are, beating the ever-livin’ tar out of some poor newbie, and when he has the nerve to actually call you on your violence, you tell him off with a flippant remark about the nature of the game. And then there’s the irresponsibility aspect; it’s not you that’s dangerous, and it’s not your weapons. It’s a contact sport.
The thing that bugs me the most, though, is the damned hypocrisy of the whole thing. I mean, when the people you hate might be leaving bruises, it’s acceptable to concoct a whole conspiracy theory about how they’re dangerous. It’s acceptable to lie and deceive in the hopes that they’ll be chucked off the field. But when it’s your pals who are dangerous, it’s wagon-circlin’ time. After all… it’s a contact sport.
First things first: weapons should never be declared safe if they’re not safe. And I don’t care if they’re technically legal. If you’re always hitting someone with core, then you can’t use zulu spears. Sorry. Sure, I might be letting that guy over there use them, but he has the common courtesy and basic skills not to core people. And if you’re always flatting someone, then you can’t use flat blades. Sorry. Sure, I might be letting other folks use ‘em, but they have that courtesy and skill thing going. And you don’t.
Second… well, no, there really isn’t a second. It’s all about dangerous people. It’s very rare that a dangerous weapon is permitted on the field. Most champions do a pretty decent job of making sure that weapons are reasonably safe, and the rulebook is clear on what’s legal and what’s not. The system breaks down when it comes to dangerous people. A weapon that may be safe in my hands is gonna leave welts and bruises in someone else’s.
Which brings me back to these little purple marks on my body. It’s got me thinking that it’s a good thing I’m not new to this game. After half a dozen years of active play, and ten years of being a member, you get an idea of how things work. You know who hits hard and who doesn’t, and you have a pretty good idea of why you got those little marks. But we still have our newbies, and they don’t have that experience. Going home to their parents with bruises is not the way to help our club grow.
A lot of people won’t give a damn because they’ve sold themselves on the contact-sport argument. But for the rest of us – the people who believe in serving Amtgard and our kingdoms – we don’t buy it, and we’re getting tired of those who do. The cynicism of abusive fighters can only be tolerated for so long. To those who stand for safety and sport, I salute you. To those who leave curious little purple marks with each swing of your sword, I have but one thing to say:
Serve your club, fight fair, or get the hell off the field.
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