Wednesday, May 2, 2012

When The Door Closes After A Round

"Thank you, and I strongly urge an affirmative ballot."
scattered applause
"Thank you for judging."
"Thank you so much for judging."
"And thank you for timing!"
"Thanks for timing."
shuffling of papers. zipping of bags. snap of caps being put back onto pens.
The judge stands. Everyone stops and smiles as she walks out.
"Thanks again for judging!"
The door opens. Everyone stares. They watch. They wait. And then.
The door is closed.
sigh of relief.

You know that moment when a door closes after a debate round and you feel an overwhelming and wonderful sense of not being on ceremony anymore? It suddenly hits you that the round is over and you don't have to deal with the Death Tax or economic security or whatever anymore. You don't have to worry about what a judge thinks of you either. That is, until the next round. But that's really far away. You don't want to think about that now. Forget questions of policies and values. The most important question now is: when's lunch?

But first, the judge is gone, so you and your opponent(s) don't have to be all argumentative anymore. I love it when the door closes and then one of the kids I've just been debating gives me a hug. That doesn't happen very often, which is really too bad, because it's quite great. Usually I just say, "good job, guys," or something. And then they say, "Yea, you too." Sometimes, if I feel like I lost the round and I'm embarrassed, I ask:
"How long have you guys been debating?"
"It's my 4th year, and her 5th."
"Oh, cool."
"What about you?"
"My first?"

And then they act surprised and I feel much better. I would never want to admit in the round that it's my first year, because people have a strange idea that first years aren't very good at debate, but I definitely want to use that as an excuse so the other team doesn't think poorly of me. It seems to work out pretty ok. Plus, I generally enjoy engaging the other team in conversation after the round, regardless of any secret goals. Debaters are cool people, and I like them, even if I didn't particularly like them moments before.

Immediately after the door shuts is a good time to turn to your partner and say, "I can't believe you said that."and yell at him or her for something. But in a nice way, because that's what partners are for. That and making the arguments you don't want to make. Note: not a good idea in LD.

If you're watching your friend in a round, now is also a great time to go up and high-five them and comment on the debate. I always did that as a non-debater. Well, sort of. I didn't really comment on the round because I didn't really understand what anyone had said, but I definitely leapt out of my seat to go see the debater I was rooting for. It made me feel like I was part of the round.

The door is shut. The tension is lifted. No one is watching.

You're homeschooled, but you can stop being a debater and go be a kid now.

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