Two recent anecdotes about fencing equipment


This weekend, I had my first fencing tournament in a year. This extended layoff was in part because I went on a spree of breaking all my foils. My stock eventually was reduced to just one, and that was borrowed off my friend Sascha. After I’d spent the last year beating the blade into ugly shapes, she suggested that I might as well just buy it off her, suggesting a price of “at least fifty dollars”. I agreed on a price of fifty dollars and pointed out her terrible haggling skills. Had she expected me to reverse-haggle the price upward?

Friday night, Sascha pointed out that my foil badly needed retaping before the next day’s tournament, so I spent about five minutes laboriously taping it up. While I was doing this, I decided that I ought to write her a cheque to make the transfer of ownership official, so I did that too.

Then, I challenged one of the club members to a match, saying as I leapt down the stairs onto the gymnasium floor, “I have a new foil, and I’m feeling handsome!” I hit him hard in the neck and bent my blade, and then, as I restraightened it, I snapped it in two places. 

No one there had ever seen a blade break in two places simultaneously, and because I snapped it under where it was taped, it hung flaccidly. “Maybe you taped it too hard,” someone suggested. 

Less than five minutes after I’d bought it, I’d broken it. But, even though I had to stay up that night until two in the morning building a new foil in preparation for the tournament the next morning, I wasn’t upset. First, after several months of wear and tear, I’d suspected that it was on its last legs, and now that I owned it free and clear, I didn’t feel guilty about breaking someone else’s equipment; I’d bought myself a clear conscience. And second, while I’d been writing the cheque, I’d thought, Just watch — now that I’m buying this, I’m immediately going to break it. This turned out to be one hundred percent correct, thus proving me to be a seer with incredible powers of precognition

* * *

That same night, Sascha asked a favour. She said she had a dead spot on her lamé, which is the conductive vest used in electric foil fencing. So, since men’s and women’s events were being held on different days in this weekend’s tournament, could she borrow mine? She promised to wash it before she gave it back. No problem, I said, and I gave it to her after I finished getting slaughtered at the tournament on Saturday and before I went home to take a nap.

At practice last night, she handed it back to me. “I didn’t need it after all, but I washed it anyway,” she said. 

“Your lamé was fine?” I asked. She nodded.

“You don’t have a dead spot?” She shook her head with a smug smile.

“Ah,” I said. “Play dumb and let them notice the dead spot. Pretend you didn’t know about it. I gotcha.”

“By the way, dude,” she said. “You should really wash that more often.”

“But that would rob me of my powers,” I began, noticing how much softer and less crispy to the touch it felt. I put it to my face and inhaled. It smelled fresh.

“Sniff the other side,” she said. I turned it around. My name had been professionally added to the back in neat capital letters, just like all the top fencers have on their own lamés. 

“You did this just for me lending it to you?” I asked. “Wow, that was nice.”

But it turned out that my girlfriend had masterminded the whole thing, even though I didn’t know she knew that people put their names on the backs of their lamés in the first place. Our mutual friend Jo had suggested it to her, and then she’d gotten Sascha to contrive to borrow it from me, and then Jo had had an armorer do the lettering at the tournament. I’d never suspected a thing, and it was a lovely surprise. 

So naturally, I seized this opportunity to tell my girlfriend after practice what a washout my whole night had been. “Only five people showed up to practice,” I said, “and Sascha borrowed my lamé Friday night for the tournament, and then she forgot to bring it back. I just had a private lesson with my coach, but I couldn’t do any dry fencing because there was no one to do it with, so I just judged a couple of electric bouts and then came home early.” This caused her heart to sink for a moment before I finally admitted I was just pulling her leg, thus proving me to be a jerk who tortures his thoughtful girlfriend in repayment for her kindness.

4 Responses to “Two recent anecdotes about fencing equipment”

  1. 1 Candace

    I don’t know how she puts up with you.

  2. 2 John Marshall

    Dude, you are doing it wrong…The proper behaviour is flowers..

  3. Just so you know, I read your two latest posts in chronological order, thinking as I commented on the earlier one, “What I say here will be somehow relevant to the next post, thus proving me able to see into the very near present without actually looking.”


  4. 4 Scott

    John Marshall is so very wrong. Being a jerk to someone who is kind to you is the natural order of things. Never change, Peter Lynn.

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