A foolish mental lapse cost my partner and me the chance to advance to the finals earlier today at the weekly Saturday afternoon Blind Draw at the Spot One Pub (289 Rutherford Road) here in Brampton, Ontario. With just seventy remaining I calmly stuck my first dart square into the middle of the triple eighteen. Then, with equal confidence, I placed my second dart into the center of the double eighteen. Now, I grew up in Michigan just across the border from Windsor and in those days a Canadian dollar was worth, maybe, eighty cents on the felt of an American poker table. But nowhere, absolutely nowhere in the world, is a double eighteen a double eight. Talk about stupid darts!
Actually, this was the second time in so many hours that I stepped to the line with my head up my butt and ended up costing our team. Earlier, with forty-six left (and our opponents within closing range) I chose to ignore the obvious six/ten wedgeshot (to leave either the double top or the double eighteen andtwo darts to close) and dropped my first dart into the eleven, instead of the fourteen, trying to set up the thirty-two gameshot. Although I came back with an easy three I, then, wired the double sixteen. The rest is history. I wasted a dart I didn't need to waste and our opponents capitalized. Stupid.
It's not that I don't know better. It's not that I haven't faced seventy's and forty-sixes more times than I can count. It's certainly not that I desire to make a fool out of myself in front of people I've never met. But today I did. And worst of all, I embarrassed myself in front of Ian Collet. Stupid.Stupid. Stupid.
Ian Collet and his wife Carol are a veritable darts institution in Canada. For a decade they have owned the Double Top dartshop in Brampton (263 Queen Street East) -- a must stop venue for anybody interested in the game. The likes of Jockey Wilson, Eric Bristow, Peter Evison, Cliff Lazerenko and John Part-- not to mention the entire Japanese and Zimbabwean National Teams have all lined up at various times to take on Ian andhis buddy John McGregor on the board in the rear of the shop. I myself took on each of them and managed to take only one game of Cricket from John. And that's primarily because he dashed out in the middle of our match to pick up a couple of cups of coffee.
For the past few years Carol has served in the elected position of Youth Development Director for the National Darts Federation of Canada. As far back as anyone can remember Ian has been on the cusp of making the Canadian National Team. Together they have cris-crossed the country -- from beautiful Vancouver Island to the desolate Yukon, from french-speaking Montreal to economically depressed Newfoundland the Collets have experienced the Canadian darts scene like few others.
So it was an honor tonight to be invited for dinner at the Collet's home. Some roast beef (with a bit of fat for Ian). A bottle or two of wine. A trip down memory lane with Carol. And some much needed lessons from Ian, one of the best teachers in the business. Indeed, while I've traveled to more than sixty countries, thrown darts on six of the seven continents and spent time with some of the wildest personalities in the sport, I simply can not recall having had a better time than I did tonight with Ian and Carol Collet.
Originally from Scotland and with the accents to prove it-- but Canadian's now through and through -- both Ian and Carol have a way with a story. Like the time Ian stood up at an exhibition with a cigarette between his lips, and then another and another, as John Lowe repeatedly pierced them away with his darts. Like the day Ian threw until all hours with Eric Bristow, and for the better part of a game of "Fifty One", bested him until the match reached the double digits. Like the night, and the morning after, both Ian and Carol watched Cliff Lazerenko welcomed into the ranks of those who have been "Screeched" in friendly Newfoundland. To be "Screeched" is an unusual ritual where the inductee is required to toss back several shots of crude brew called Screech and then kiss a dead, North Atlantic cod fish. Apparently Lazerenko passed the initiation rite but, for one of the few times in his life, was forced to swear off liquor for the remainder of the evening.
After the stories came impromptu lessons. A little test to determine my dominant eye. That settled, a tip on where, and how, to stand at the oche. A look at my grip. An admonishment about my lack of follow through, my lousy math and my tendency to berate my performance. A lecture about confidence and attitude.And another admonishment about my desire to wear a baseball cap when I threw. It's not exactly that Ian called my attire unprofessional but I got the message.
The day -- the evening -- ended late, but still far too early. I'll stop back at the Double Top. Lessons learned, I'll line up again against both Ian and John. I'll take out the seventy. I'll take out the forty-six. But never, ever in a million years will I guzzle Screech and kiss a dead fish. I'll leave that to the Brits and Cliff Lazerenko. Talk about stupid!
From the Field,