>>> Bang for Your Buck
By staff writer David Nelson
March 26, 2006

Essential New Word of the Week: hocker (definition hint: chronic)

From Dan's Olympic article feedback:

Nate, leaving out curling was probably a bad oversight on my part. Any sport that prominently involves brooms deserves to be mocked publicly.
Dan Opp | Email | Homepage | 02/18/06 – 2:59 pm | #

I don't understand curling.. Is it really a sport?
me | Email | Homepage | 02/17/06 – 5:03 pm | #

Dude, I really wanted to enjoy this. But you left out curling. I mean, is any olympic event funnier than curling?
Nathan DeGraaf | Email | Homepage | 02/16/06 – 6:15 pm |

I’ve noticed that curling has gotten kind of a bad rap around here lately. It’s actually quite understandable; it is one hell of a dorky-looking sport. Between the brooms and the matching warm-up suits, it’s tough to look at curlers and call them athletes while keeping a straight face. In fact, if aliens are secretly spying on us, they better not stumble across curling footage. If they do, Earth might be in a lot of trouble in the form of some kind of intergalactic, planetary wedgie. That’s how stupid curling looks.

As a one-time mocker, reluctant participant, and now, devoted enthusiast, I’m here to set the record straight. Curling is not as stupid as it appears. No, really. I know you might be tempted to dismiss this as the syrup-drenched rambling of yet another beaver-molesting Canuck. Hear me out. I don’t live in Moose Turd, Saskatchewan, but a city of over 5 million people. I have dual citizenship with the United States, and I like freaky sex and violent sports. I think it’s safe to say, if I can be won over by curling, almost anyone can.

I want to address the more common objections to curling. If I can convince some of you of its non-suckitude, that’s great! If not, that’s okay too, but it probably means you’re a eunuch. I’m just saying….

“If you’re curling in a place that doesn’t serve liquor, you’re probably at a figure skating arena by mistake, making you either a homo or a retard.”

It’s Challenging

The reason a lot of fans enjoy watching sports is because they can appreciate the difficulty of what the athletes are doing. Even if you’ve spent your entire life strapping butter and gravy to the inside of your skin, you can still point your motorized wheelchair toward the TV and admire the skill it takes to run, jump, or throw. Curlers, traditionally, aren’t given a lot of credit for the skills they have. Sliding and sweeping might not be the stuff of VHS tapes hosted by Emmy winner/animated corpse Roy Firestone, but they require balance, timing and co-ordination. Those same skills are critical when it comes to not getting caught masturbating in the air duct above the girls locker room, so you know how important they are.

I remember my first time passing a stone. The catheter hurt so much, I almost didn’t make it to the rink . That’s an old curling joke. Be warned, there are many more. But in all seriousness, my first curling experience was certainly memorable. It’s not easy to shoot a 44-pound rock with pinpoint accuracy, but doing it for the first time is pretty satisfying, even if you still think the sport is kind of lame. To put it in perspective, it’s like making just the right Monty Python reference to land the hottest girl at a bar.

It’s Strategic

Some people refer to curling as “Shuffleboard on ice,” but that’s like calling chess “Tic-Tac-Toe in a pit of broken glass and scorpions.” In other words, it’s not the playing surface that really matters. Curling is a battle of wits, pure and simple. Imagine if some kind of defensive strategy was added to darts or golf, and you could block your opponent’s shots, or blast them out of the way. That would kick ass! With curling, you have to take this sort of thing into consideration, along with your opponent’s weaknesses, which likely include chronic alcoholism. More on that later.

If you have a strategic mind, there aren’t many sports where you can personally excel. You need the right connections to become a football coach, and rock-paper-scissors hasn’t been approved by the Olympic Committee yet. Curling appeals to those with a decent mix of brains and brawn. Sun Tzu might have defeated a million armies with The Art of War, but if curling had been around in his era, you can bet he would have traded in his machine gun for a broom.

It’s Sexy

Those rinks are pretty cold, and if you enjoy the sight of a stiff nipple as it strains against its polyester captor, then curling’s for you. Also, it’s not as common anymore, but women’s curling used to feature uniforms that could only be described as “naughty schoolgirl.” Since throwing a rock forces you to almost do the splits, the voyeur potential is formidable. More casual players tend to wear tight jeans, and there’s a lot of prolonged crouching involved. I can tell you that in the time I’ve been curling, I’ve seen more crack than Marion Barry.

And if that’s not enough to get you excited, check this out. Regarding hot female curlers, our own Dan Opp said something about wanting to put his stones in their ends. And as clever as that pun is, it doesn’t go far enough. These girls are so hot that if they turned out to be terminally-ill smokers, I’d still have sex with their tracheotomy holes. Um, that has nothing to do with curling, but I just thought you should know. And let’s face it, the she-bears that populate the women’s golf circuit aren’t going to offer you that kind of wank factor.

It’s Therapeutic

I won’t insult anyone by insisting that curling is a good form of exercise. It actually can be, for some people, but Canadians are born with the innate ability to traverse ice using only the power of our minds. That said, the sweeping gets pretty strenuous in close matches. A lot of people think that when curling was invented, somebody’s little brother must have tagged along, and been allowed to be the “sweeper,” just so he would have something to do. In truth, the sweeping makes a big difference in how far a shot goes. And it’s never a bad thing for women to get a little extra practice for the housework they’ll need to do after the game.

You’ve surely noticed how curlers scream at each other during the course of a shot. In today’s society, there aren’t too many contexts when it’s acceptable to scream, literally, at the top of one’s lungs. The next time someone is helping you do something, try screaming at them to do it faster. Then you’ll understand the kind of power that curlers wield.

The most common thing to scream when you want sweeping is the phrase “Hurry hard!” So, any blind guy that wanders into a curling match might theoretically mistake it for some kind of frozen Eskimo porn. I’ve also heard the phrase being screamed in the rink’s bathroom, but I suspect it was in reference to some guy’s bowel movement.

It’s Hardcore

I forgot to mention, feel free to smoke and drink while you play. If you enjoy a party kind of lifestyle, curling won’t slow you down a bit. What other sport can make that guarantee? I know basketball and football players are known for their wild ways, but not during the actual games. I’ve never seen Dennis Rodman light up a joint under the opposing team’s basket, or Michael Irvin punch out a hooker on the 50-yard line. But in curling, if you’re guzzling a beer and lighting up as you sweep, no one will bug you except moochers who want you to share. A good 4-man curling squad typically gets through 2 or 3 pitchers per game.

It’s also a deeply ingrained part of curling tradition for the winning team to buy the losing team a round, following the game. Conventional wisdom says that losers ought to treat the winners, but I like this tradition better. You might not have your team name engraved on a trophy, but at least you can get drunk enough to have it engraved on your body. And you don’t even have to leave the building; most curling clubs double as fairly passable bars. No, scratch that—they all do. If you’re curling in a place that doesn’t serve liquor, you’re probably at a figure skating arena by mistake, making you either a homo or a retard, but likely both.

Conclusions: Curling is definitely on the rise. It got a lot of good exposure at the recent Winter Games, which in terms of publicity, is a definite improvement from a mediocre 2002 feature film starring Leslie Nielsen of Naked Gun fame.

It’s definitely a slower sport, but I think that’s part of curling’s appeal. The players don’t wear helmets, or visors, or stern masks of emotionless bravado, so it’s possible to read their emotions as their fortunes change over the course of a game. And, as I’m sure you know, sport is the only context in which guys are allowed to care about emotions.

If you live in the south, don’t be surprised if a curling rink springs up in your town soon. Also, and this is for your own benefit, it’s enough with the chewing tobacco already. And at the risk of sounding politically incorrect, if these guys can do it, your non-crippled ass can do it too. Just show up at a rink with some beer money and a clever team nickname, like “Sweeping Disorder,” or “The Legion of Broom.” The rest will take care of itself.

Essential New Word of the Week:
hocker \haker\ n: A preparation made from the dried flower clusters and leaves of the cannabis plant, usually smoked or eaten to induce euphoria. There is no shortage of slang terms for marijuana, and I’m pleased to have friends who can contribute to this rich field. Last week, I called a buddy about the possibility of hanging out. This, word for word, was his reply on my answering machine: “Yeah, come on over, we’re just going to play some video games, watch some West Wing and smoke some hocker…(long pause)…that’s pot, in case you were wondering.” Bingo, new word of the week. I pressed and pressed to find out the real origin of “hocker,” but all my friend could mumble was “I dunno…my brother?” I guess that’s the risk I ran when I decided to use drug culture words.