It's still not too late to play the game. And Robert Altman's death today certainly doesn't hurt his chances at a Best Director nod.
So today I enrolled in a distance-learning course (npi) in watermelon spittery. I hope to enter the East Bay championships next August. I really know nothing about the sport, but my first bit of coursework is all about strengthening the diaphragm and the lip muscles. The exercises they have me doing! This must be the first time I've had to contort my lips into such absurd positions since I was single and trying to get Lady Steed's attention from across the parking lot without alerting her roommates to my intentions.
One thing a lot of people don't realize about watermelon spittery is the money involved. Jake Jacobi, who recently won the Atlanta Open, took home something like $19 thousand in prize money. And that's just in Atlanta--their event is still in its first decade!
The East Bay event is officially 65 years old, but tradition has it being attended by Mark Twain and Ambrose Bierce, which would make it substantially older if true. In fact, as I understand it, there were no watermelons in California when Twain was here. But the point is, the East Bay event is a storied institution and quite a respectable pursuit. At the elementary school I'm subbing at this week, the kids are spitting pumpkin seeds to learn the skills. It's against the rules (it can be a huge mess), but it would be like telling kids in other parts of the countries not to, I don't know, tip cows during recess or something.
I've actually been interested in spittery for a while--Tehachapi has had an amateur competition for a while at its Mountain Festival--but I had never really considered doing it myself until I learned that it's tradition for the Berkeley Ward to front a team to compete in the qualifying round, and that one or two guys or gals usually make it into the competition.
So I figured why not? Do it with some friends; no need for embarrassment. Sounds good.
But then I started looking online and finding different methods for improving spitskills and now I'm really getting into it. I've considered buying the weighted steel seeds to practice with that you can get on Amazon, for instance. Maybe I still will. Christmas, anyone?
But the point is, it's never to late to learn a new skill, which is a good thing to learn as I embark on my fourth decade of life.
Now if you'll excuse me, I've a book to read. I'm on chapter six: "Exercise Your Way to Precise Seed Placement Part Two: Spit Like Your Lungs Are on Fire ('cuz its hot to be tops)."