I have been looking forward to today for a long, long time. Today was my big day. Today was the beginning of my new obsession. Today was my reason for not joining the gym.
Today was my croquet clinic.
Today actually started several weeks ago when I saw the clinic in a flyer sent to me by Heritage Museum.
I called three friends. I said, "I have another completely queer idea I hope you'll want to do with me." They said yes immediately.
I am so lucky to know people who are enthusiastic adopters of the truly ridiculous.
This morning I was up at the crack of dawn ironing my white skirt. My job does not require me to iron much, so this was a big deal. It is only slightly scorched.
The clinic was held on the museum's parade grounds. We show up, choose our mallets and are introduced to our Croquet Coach. He is a two time National Croquet Champion! He is featured in several videos! He is the Director of USCA Instructional Schools in West Palm Beach!
Halfway through the introduction I get the giggles.
The four of us, after all, are old enough to be respectful of other sporting subcultures - and yet not old enough to be at a clinic which is held at 10am on a weekday.
It is hard for us to take any sentence which ends in the word "croquet" seriously. And the term "croquet champion" is really more than any mere mortal under the age of 70 can hear without falling to the closely shorn grass in fits.
Just in the nick of time, we are unleashed onto the field. There are 33 of us and we are asked to divide up into pairs and play in groups of 4. Yes, this is mathematically impossible. Plus, there is a chance that not everyone will get to play at once, so pairs may be cycled in willy-nilly. We are afraid of being split up and quickly head off to a course, where we start trying to remember what we've just been told. We get impossibly confused and need help.
And then we get pretty good at it.
A reporter shows up and starts taking pictures. She asks us if we are from Sandwich and when we say no, she looks disappointed and moves along.
The Croquet Pro drops in and gives us a few pointers. He keeps using croquet jargon and one liners suitable for bumper stickers. My favorite was "you are in position to wreak havoc." I think I have always secretly hoped to be in position to wreak havoc.
We are playing in teams of two, so when one team scores a wicket things get a little loud. We are easily identified as the foursome who is high-fiving and perhaps swearing. We mean no disrespect, but it is just so gosh darn exciting.
Here are the croquet grounds. We are not in the picture:
Note that the other players have moved slightly away from us. Needless to say, no one chooses to cut in.
But the reporter comes back. We are irresistible.
We are unmissable.
We are under 70.
We decide not to join the Heritage Croquet League, even though it will get us half price membership in the USCA. We are a little afraid we will have to play with other people. Instead, we vow to play as a foursome every Thursday, going from lawn to lawn. Some of our lawns are in disrepair, but our Two Time National Champion Croquet Pro assures us this is not a problem.
We finished the day by having tea (the full Windsor Tea with tea sandwiches and scones and little desserty things) at the Dunbar Tea Room and continued planning our croquet future.
We are having a league logo designed, and t-shirts made. Our application to become a USCA affilliated club is in the works.
We are croquet players.