Shield

I got frustrated today.  A lot.  It’s true that having the metal that composes my shield be super hard is a desirable trait.  It’s also true that that fact makes working with the material exceedingly difficult.

That’s a confusing lead-in.  Let me start earlier.  Once upon a time, a Knight of the Society told me that I’d never become a Knight myself until I got a bigger shield.  I was fighting with an eighteen inch diameter buckler.  It was a steep learning curve, and I got whacked a lot, but I was learning to move.  I acquired a twenty-four inch tall heater shield.  Still not big enough, I heard.  I wanted a larger shield, but I didn’t want to lose the gains in mobility and visibility.  So this Knight lent me his heater for the duration of some shoulder healing he was doing.  That was probably a couple years ago.

He called me up the other day.  “Do you still have my shield?”  Of course I did.  I had been teaching beginners to fight, and loaning them that shield while I stuck to my buckler.  It was time to give it back.  He’d be at the Thursday practice.  Awesome.

So today, I ran to Home Depot to pick up things.  I needed to strip my handle off of his shield and refasten his.  I also needed to finally repair my own heater.  I had been itching to go to a center-grip style instead of having it strapped to my arm.  I came home, cracked open a Rockstar, and headed out to the garage.

It was one hot day today.  I was pouring sweat in mere minutes.  I dug out the other Knight’s handle.  Bolted it on.  Measured and marked my piece of T6 aircraft aluminum for its new handle and hand protection.  Started drilling holes.  The battery on my drill died on hole three.  Great.  I set the battery to charging, and got out my new jig-saw.  Pulled out a blade well-suited to cutting metal.  Started cutting.  1/4th of the way through, the battery died.  I rolled my eyes, slapped my saw’s battery on the charger.  Got the drill going again.  Got all my center boss holes drilled.  Got the saw going again.  Sixty percent done – and the blade snags on something, then slips out.  It carved into the plastic tool crate I was using as a bench, snagged, and ripped out of the saw.  Fuck.  The tool crate – whatever.  I have that new two-story cabinet.  The blade – warped.  I pull out the other metal blade.  Two inches of cutting, and it slips out too.  Double fuck.  I fish out the blades that came with the saw, and one is a metal blade.  Two more inches, and the damn thing is actually fusing the T6 between its teeth.  The Fuck Trifecta.  How do you floss a sawblade?

I adjusted the angle so that I could get contact with the remaining teeth, continued VERY SLOWLY, and finally got through the damned thing.  Some quick bolting of the handle and boss, and I was off to practice.

When I write all this out, it actually doesn’t seem that bad.  I could talk about the sweat literally streaming off me and dripping from nose to work surface.  I could tell you about how I filed down the handle, but it’s only “better” and not “good.”  I did talk about how I ruined three blades for my jig saw.  Or I could simply say that hard work overcame obstacles and my shield saved me from more than a few bruises in even the abbreviated practice.

Also of note: I returned the shield to the Knight of the Society.  He congratulated me on my marriage.  We even went a few rounds.  I nailed him on one of his unarmored bits.  Afterward, he came to tell me that he was impressed with my confidence and that he could see the difference in my eyes.

“You aren’t just coming to throw shots.  You’re coming to kill me.”  This Knight is one of few words.  That he deemed to say anything is an honor.  It meant a lot to me.  He’s known me for a very long time, and to have earned his respect is a wondrous thing.

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