"Dartoid's World" and the world of professional darts crossed paths recently at the Virginia Beach Cassic. For three days and two nights Dartoid and the likes of Stacy Bromberg and Jerry Umberger stood side by side at the very same line on the floor. Like buddies from way back we tossed together. Bromberg and Umberger tossed in triple twenties just like they do every day. And I -- I tossed back Budweisers and wondered: if my name was "Dartoidberg" would Darts World sponsor me?
The amazing thing is that I actually won forty bucks in the Blind Draw Doubles 501 on Friday night. If the truth be known, I was dragged into the top eight by my partner -- the sharp shooting, flat topped Al Dorn of Las Vegas. Had it not been for a 126 game shot by whomever it was we faced in our final match we surely would have taken out the 32 we had remaining and headed to the semis. Anyway, this was the high point of the at-the-line part of my weekend (and probably the low point of Al's). I had forty more bucks for beer.
So I wandered off to stand in line for a hot dog and something cold. Here, while innocently waiting to be served, the strap from the leather case I keep my darts in lightly grazed the rear end of a cute little blond who was standing in the line in front of me. Honest, this is exactly what happened. I am not some sort of mad sex fiend.
Of course, this female darter was not aware of this. Every day at dart tournaments across this fine nation, women risk their lives standing in lines for hot dogs. It's an epidemic. So, understandably, this poor girl shrieked, jumped, flipped around and began to rip me a new one of those things that I accidently, sort of, touched.
But in mid-accostment she seemed to have a revelation. The yelling stopped. A look of recognition came across her face. "I think I know you," she said, "Aren't you the guy that writes those funny stories?" I replied that, yes, I was (that, in fact, I was working on one as we spoke) and apologized profusely for my apparent transgression. Anyway, this is the story of how Dartoid and Holly Boynton (and Jim Widmayer, who came to her rescue) became acquainted.
Saturday morning was downright scary. I came up against Roger Carter in cricket and was off looking for hot dogs again faster than Mike Tyson used to knock out the chumps he faced. Gentleman that he is, Carter was nice about it though. He said I was just "unlucky." I wonder which dart he was talking about -- the one that hit the light or the one that stuck the chalker in the ear?
The rest of Saturday I spent with "New Wave" Dave Marienthal. Now this guy, with his buttoned down shirt and silk handkerchief dangling from his pressed black trowsers, is a class act and a half. He's the future of darts -- the kind of guy who can beat the best and bring respectability to the sport at the same time. No torn jeans and beer stained shirts for "New Wave" Dave.
I hung out with Dave's New Jersey buddy, Steve, who was celebrating -- with fifth after fifth of something -- his birthday and Dave's being named to the ADO National team. We followed Dave and his partner, Shane Meeks of Virginia, as they worked their way through the cricket doubles competition. When Dave and Shane finally got knocked out I saved Steve from trying to commit suicide by stuffing Dave's handkerchief down his throat.
As the tournament wound down on Sunday I spent time talking with Paul Lim about friends we share in Malaysia and Singapore. I wagered a dollar at a chance to win fifty at Stacy's Six Shooter -- trying to hit back-to-back maximums, managing a 140 and a three. I traded business cards with top-ranked Dan Lauby, who encouraged me to come write about darts in Terre Haute (which I assume is somewhere in the United States).
And I visited at length with Julie Nicoll -- about the sport, why she's in it and how special it is that someone like Dartoid and a professional such as her can meet, connect and talk so freely about the sport. "It's about winning," she posed, "but it's not just about winning. It's also about sportsmanship and camaraderie and just plain having a good time." People like Dartoid, she suggested, bring some reality -- and some levity and life -- to a game that, sometimes, gets just a bit too serious.
As I stand again now, back in the hot dog line inconspicuously trying to find just the right trajectory for the next snap of my dart case strap, I am more certain than ever before that there's just no better game -- and no more sincere group of enthusiasts -- in the world. Yep, darts is about winning. But most important, the world of darts is all encompassing -- it's about people and friendship. While darters come in all shapes, forms and temperments, there's more than enough room in the sport for all of us.
From the Field,