Dear Derby Helper,
So we play the coolest sport in the world. That I get. But it totally bugs me when friends and coworkers introduce me to people leading with the fact that I play roller derby. This happens to me all the time! Getting introduced as a roller girl in a non-derby situation can be really uncomfortable, particularly in business settings when they learn you're a roller girl before they learn what you do for work. It's gotten my sister cornered in bars. You end up taking 10 minutes out of your day or night to explain to someone you will probably never meet again, "Yes, it is real. No, it's not like in the 70's." Etc., etc.
While I appreciate that people think I play a cool sport and I DO like talking about derby, I can tell people on my own if and when I decide it's appropriate. How does one manage these unwelcome introductions/conversations with grace and style?
Susan Slamberg, Green Mountain Derby Dames
Yes, being awesome is sometimes a heavy burden to bear. (An example of this is the dozens of autographs I have to sign for you adoring blog fans every morning on the walk from my front door to my car.) And to quote Spider-Man's Uncle Ben perfectly with no embellishment whatsoever, "With great derby comes great awesomeness." So one particular burden that many roller derby players have to bear is that their resulting awesomeness causes their real life identity to be eclipsed somewhat. So Susan, let's take a couple of your statements and analyze them to see what kind of possible solutions we can come up with.
You start out with "So we play the coolest sport in the world...but it totally bugs me when friends and coworkers introduce me to people leading with the fact that I play roller derby." My response is OF COURSE they lead with your derby affiliation! The ability to strap wheels to the bottoms of your feet and hurl yourself at breakneck speed into a pack of marauding, tattooed ruffians is the closest thing earth has to a real superpower. Ask yourself this: Do nerds buy Spider-Man comics to read about an underachieving photographer who can't pay his rent? No, they buy them to see an athletic, brightly costumed person zipping around kicking peoples arses. Remind you of anyone? So one possible solution is to embrace your inner superhero and become comfortable with your derby identity being your the dominant one.
Another statement you made was "Getting introduced as a roller girl in a non-derby situation can be really uncomfortable, particularly in business settings" and I can definitely see why this would be a problem. If someone learns that you can physically pound them into pulp before they learn that you have 8 years experience in massage therapy, it will be tough for them to ever be able to visualize you fixing people's injuries instead of crushing their skulls into a concrete floor. Therefore if it is, say, your work friend Jim who keeps introducing you derby-name-first in business situations, it is completely acceptable for you to take the time to explain to Jim in detail why it is important that he stop doing this.