Darts 1It’s one of those things that looks easy, too easy in fact when you first wiggle your toe up to the shooting line. The dartboard is only 7 feet 9 1/4 inches away. You feel as if you could almost reach out an touch it. Geez, it’s too close even to be a challenge. And then you toss your first dart…

Wow, it doesn’t go where you aimed it…not anywhere near where you aimed it. Your dart might not even hit the dartboard, or the cork safety board around it. It may have hit the scoreboard below or the block wall beyond.

Darts 2You come up to the line again for your second shot. Now the board seems to have moved much farther away. You find yourself actually leaning across the line, wishing you could get even closer. But you can’t.

Such is the game of darts.

It’s a not a game for early quitters or egotists. It’s humbling…best played with a glass of pub ale within easy reach to buck you up for the next round or to cry in if your aim continues to deteriorate.

Nettie gave me the dartboard you’re looking at many years ago. I used to have it hanging on my office door (inside of course); and when the work dragged or the sentences and paragraphs rioted and refused to get written, I’d get up and toss a couple darts into this fine Winmau board.

Sisal AgaveWe took the dartboard with us on our St. Thomas adventure and hung it outside, certain the Caribbean weather of salt air and humidity would destroy it over time. But not so. The sisal bristle, made from the agave cactus family, is durable stuff and seemed unphased by a little heat and ocean air.

So I brought it with us when we moved back to Los Angeles and stuffed it in a closet until last week when Nettie suggested a spot for it in the backyard under the eaves and in the shade of our giant bird of paradise. It seems right at home here; and with the addition of a recessed LED light, game time is anytime of day.

BullseyeHere’s the thing about it. Nettie and I are both still pretty good though we haven’t played in a few years. I had an especially fine round a couple days ago shooting six darts per turn that demanded I take a photo of my shots…which I did. A tight grouping is always a good sign and the bullseye was a nice surprise.

It got me thinking about the skills we can keep and those we must accept in decline as we grow older.

Okay, okay…I’m not suggesting darts is some high-functioning skill set on par with brain surgery or ballet. But what I am saying is that it takes a certain hand-eye coordination and visual acuity, as well as a simple determination to improve one’s natural skill level and a blind enthusiasm to ignore one’s innate weaknesses. All of which are life lessons and good for you.

Dart PiesYes, friends, darts is a little slice of life played out in the pie slices of the dartboard itself. It’s got all of that try-and-try-again-and-you-will succeed stuff written all over it. And it’s fun.

On Saturday night, Nettie and I had friends over for a leg of lamb on the BBQ. We ate and drank our fair share and I tried to interest them in a game of darts. There was a kind of adult reluctance in their answer, nothing specific, a polite lethargy: “Sure,” they said, “later perhaps.” Later turned to later still and I decided maybe the best way to get a game going was to start playing by myself…a kind of Tom Sawyer approach.

And it worked. First one friend drifted over, then another, and then another joined in; before you know it, six of us were hooting and hollering and tossing darts with abandon. Oh sure, the safety board got its fair share of errant darts, as well as the scoreboard, and even the block wall had a few dart scars in the morning light.

But you know what? I’ll bet you our neighbors thought there were a bunch of teenagers over at the Zee’s playing darts and having a hell of a time carrying on and sharpening their skills and honing their talents in the moonlight.

Which is exactly what we were doing as the seconds and minutes and hours raced by without our noticing them in the least.











2 Responses to Darts Anyone?

  1. Steve says:

    Frank, great blog. I love darts but don’t play very often. Your analogy to life was perfect.

  2. Mark says:

    Frank –
    Looks fun.
    Oh and a suggestion.
    You might move the white board before I come over to play.
    If you leave it where it is you will end up with a scoreboard that is riddled with the distinct signature of my poor dart throwing ability.

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