First things first...a plug for $99PerRoom.com Interior Painting. One of the members of our dads group was generous enough to write the check to give 30 dads a free night out last Friday. If you need some painting, please see him.
Also, if you're a father in the Chicago region you can find us on Meetup. Plenty more information on the City Dads Group website as well. We have playdates, family outings, golf rounds, Dads Night Out, and a fairly heavy rotation of events currently.
"So what is WhirlyBall?" it seems like all my family and friends have been asking. It's a Chicago icon, for one. I can't believe I've lived here this long and never tried it. But the best way I can describe it is this...
You walk into a room that smells like something has been on fire (the floor is metal to provide power) to find sets of red and black bumper cars. The color is your team. You choose a plastic scoop hanging on the wall and seat belt yourself into your vehicle. By your right foot there is a gas pedal. No brake. Between your legs is a...lever? Steering handle? You see, it goes in a 360 degree circle and functions as not only your left/right but is the mechanism that shifts you from forward to reverse.
Above you on a balcony is a referee who assigns points. Not only for goals scored, but penalty points for things like slashing with your plastic scoop or ramming an opponent into the outer boards that form the "rink." Is rink the right word? I dunno. The goals are really just basketball backboards with the middle taken out and a net inserted. Colored lights let you know when you've gotten the wiffle ball into the net.
There is a scoreboard and play is timed.
And it's pretty much exactly how it sounds: difficult. Weird. Fun. Kinda competitive in a way where you suddenly want to trash your friends and laugh when you've made them cry. We all came away with sore muscles, blisters, etc.. You probably will get hit directly in the head at some point. The hardest thing is scooping the stupid ball off the floor. Passing is nearly impossible. Scoring takes a good deal of finesse. In short, whoever invented this game was both twisted and brilliant.
We played about 3 games. My team won the first one in a close match. The next time I played we lost big. There was drinking and a few people ordered food. I ended up chatting for awhile with a guy from the next town over who has a 9 month old. Guys swapped stories, gently critiqued (ok, brutally scrutinized) the game play of others. It was a great chance to hang out with a bunch of guys who all share something in common. For many of us, it's a nice chance to put a face with a name we see online everyday in discussions about parenting. For some of us, it was a nice chance to get to have adult conversation with friends without a small child asking for a graham cracker.
Did I mention the group safety spiel from your referee? Play at your own risk. We all plan on doing it again in early 2015. Looking forward to it.