I wrote a little essay about the coed environment of bike polo, and how participation has been influential in shaping ideas about gender stereotypes. Bike polo is pretty freaking cool for a few dozen reasons; this is one of them. Here’s an excerpt from that essay, which has just been published in The Writing Disorder, a literary journal featuring fiction, nonfiction, poetry and photography.
I first heard about bike polo in June of 2008, when my pal Alex called to tell me about this awesome new game he had started playing. From what I could tell, it was an amalgam of bikes, bodys and mallets—it sounded like chaos. I let the whole summer pass by without figuring out what “bike polo” really was.
But as summer was winding down, Alex called me up again.
“Hey, we’re having a little barbecue at the park down in North Hollywood. You should come by. We’re playing polo and grilling; stop by and have a beer,” Dash said, with a ring in his voice. “We’re at the rink in the back of the park.”
It was Labor Day, which meant a rare Monday off, so I headed to the park alone, looking forward to demystifying this funny concept of polo with bikes instead of horses. Besides, who says “no” to a barbeque in the park?
A dozen man-boys and a couple women made up the group gathered for bike polo that day. I didn’t know anyone there but Alex, who was pedaling across the rink with a mallet in his left hand, chasing a little orange ball. The game intrigued me, and as I watched the itch to give it a try grew hotter. I didn’t play that day; I just took it all in.
It would be another month before I made it out again, when I would hop onto my janky mountain bike and awkwardly roll around the court trying to stay in control of my bike, my mallet and my sense of direction as my two teammates and three opponents whizzed back and forth past me.
“Get in the way” is the best advice I’m offered, so I make an effort to obstruct the path of the enemy—a daring move that leads to a messy collision in which my rear wheel comes loose from my bike. I can feel my skin burning the red fire of humiliation, but it’s too late: I’m hooked and I want to come back, play more, get better.
Read the full essay here.
The Writing Disorder is a literary journal published four times a year, and, for the first time, it is also available in the iBookstore on iTunes. You can search by any contributor’s name to find it, available for $1.99. Pretty sweet deal for all the creative gold packed inside.