Monday, October 28, 2013

Welcome to the Dojo

This is a short exercise that Steve Potter wrote for a writer's group recently.  Note: Steve has never been to "The El Dojo", the local climbing co-op.  It just happened that "The Dojo" was the perfect name for his fictional climbing gym.  Enjoy.

"Welcome to the Dojo"
by Steve Potter

Welcome to the Dojo. The first thing you should know is that climbing is safer than it looks. There is a system. Once you know the system, you can trust the system. Until you know it, you may horrified. Mistakes may or may not result in someone hitting the ground. If you see someone hit the ground, find Amanda.

This is your harness. There are many harnesses like it but this one is yours. Be sure to put your harness on correctly. Left leg through left loop. Right leg through right loop. Make sure the belay loop is not twisted. Synch waist tight. If you don’t synch tight you may or may not hit the ground. Don’t synch so tight that you’re pouring out over it. That is too tight. No, we don’t have larger sizes.

This is the teaching wall. These are top ropes. Before you climb ensure that your rope is not too worn. What do I mean? I mean you should not be able to see through the sheathing. If you can see the core – this white stuff here – the rope is core shot. Core shot ropes get caught in sharp things and cut. When ropes cut people may or may not hit the ground. If you see a core shot, find Amanda.

This metal device is called a gri-gri. If you climb with a gri-gri on your harness you will look like a noob. A cardinal rule of The Dojo is don’t look like a noob. In a master’s hands a gri-gri will keep the climber off the ground. It is a friction locking system. You feed the rope through – like so – with the end that goes towards the climber – this end – slotted where the little climber is carved on the inside – here. Gri-gri’s are single directional, meaning that they will not compress the rope if the rope is running out in a certain direction. This allows you to bring in slack.  It also means that if you feed the gri-gri backwards your climber will hit the ground.

Belaying is very serious, but not so serious that you shouldn’t try to look casual about it. If you look too serious you look like a noob. If you don’t look serious enough you look like a dick. Try not to look like a dick, but avoid at all costs looking like a noob.

You have undoubtedly noticed certain aesthetic features to the Dojo. Most of these features are people. This is a haven for fitness, and fitness is a thing of beauty. If you look in that mirror there you may or may not see where you’ve gone wrong. That is why we keep a mirror here. It keeps us honest.

But remember, you can always reform your wardrobe. Athletic shorts? A noob heresy – you yourself are proof of how heinous they look under a harness. Next time try jeans – they do everyone a favor and show that you aren’t trying too hard. Women: try yoga pants. If you’ve got it to flaunt, flaunt it here. Who knows, you might win a serious climber out of the deal. Look at Vince there – there. Oh yes, his back is very strong. That’s why he’s not wearing a shirt, he’s afraid he’d rip it.

Vince is a very serious climber. Vince thinks he should be a pro climber but he doesn’t have the full package. The secret is in the fingers, not the back. Vince does not appreciate this. Vince also does not appreciate having to pay to climb. He believes he graces us with his presence. Graces aside, Vince does have to pay. If you see him slink passed the front desk early in the month, find Amanda.

And there she is. There – Amanda is that ravishing creature over there. Wave to her. Note the curvature of the hips. Oh, buck up girl, there’s always hope. When Amanda came to us for the first time two years ago, she looked much like you actually. No, really, its true. We tacked the pictures on the wall of the staff room, just to remind her.