The Lighthouse

the lighthouse

18 February 2010


Doodadderie: unnecessary and distracting embellishments, such as the arm flapping of figure skaters who don’t know what to do with their arms, and the excessive assortment of doobers young girls use in their hair all at once (clips, pins, elastic AND hair band).

Doodadderie as a word came to be while we were watching the Olympic Men’s Short Program Figure Skating. Our pet peeve with figure skaters is the boring ‘skate skate skate jump’ business which puts more emphasis on gymnastics than it does on artistry - closely followed by the incessant flapping. My sister lamented the flapping and all the hoo-ha, saying “enough with the doodadderie”, thus minting a new word for our lexicon.

Which got me thinking about what it would be like to be a figure skating judge. Not as a professional, totally-into-the-moment-judge, but me – someone who has lots of opinions but little inside knowledge of ice skating.


Fade to black

Scene opens on an ice arena, early evening, crowded stands of cheering fans waving national flags, piped rock music, occasional indecipherable announcements.
Skaters are seen in various conditions of dress en route to changing rooms, walking through routines on rubber-covered floors, twitching and kicking nervous legs, rink-side. Coaching staff, medical teams, security personnel, event officials, and the press blend with the athletes to create an atmosphere of tension, anticipation and important-business-underway.

Seated at the blue-draped judge’s table is the heroine of our story. She doesn’t belong at that table, behind her very own computer (the instrument by which she is supposed to render judgement on the hopeful bladed, but instead emails her boyfriend who is currently in Indiana looking for himself - India being too costly a flight), as she is not an expert in figure skating, figure skaters, or figure skates. How she ended up at that table remains a mystery, and may actually be a case of mistaken identity.

As the evening progresses and the skaters take their turns exhibiting their athletic and artistic prowess, she submits her marks to the panel: 6.8, 5.3, 7.0, 7.2. Not knowing a lutz from a salchow (imagine her surprise to discover it wasn’t actually a sow cow), she devised her own marking scheme: everyone starts with a 5.5, and either gains or loses points depending on how much she likes the costume and music. Glitter is good, and the more there is, the higher the mark. Generic classical music warrants point deduction. Not making her stomach clench in failed-jump-anxiety is worth a solid two points, whereas points are taken away for useless arm flapping – doodadderie being the worst offense as far as she is concerned. She always adds an extra column on her marking sheets for ‘instances of doodadderie’ and keeps track of each empty gesture of the hands, every pointless toss of the head, the meaningless hops, and the void-of-artistry accelerations across the ice.

The highest marks of the night go to a young man from Spain. Not generally considered to be a hotbed of figure skating superstars, she gives him a point for nationality. Another point is awarded for not choosing the obvious matador costume, and still one more for sequins on his skate covers, which are mesmerizing in contrast to his all black outfit. His jumps are simple but landed cleanly – another point. Only one moment of awkward flapping – minimal doodadderie deduction. Too bad about the floppy blond hair though, which seems to circle his head when he spins, which he does often. Maybe she should have docked a point for repetition?

The story goes on, but I have lost interest in it. Our unqualified judge continues to monkey with the international figure skating federation; her boyfriend discovers he’s in Cleveland, not Indiana; and the blond sequin-footed Spaniard goes on to win the 500 m. short track in the next Olympics. It was all that spinning.

Thanks to my sister (and the oliebollen)for this challenge.


  1. "oliebollen!!!!!!!!!!....." man, I am missing all the good stuff.

  2. I was somewhat baffled by doodadderie, and then along came oliebollen. ;-)

    I loved the imaginary ice-skating story while still laughing at your Squirrel Chase account.

  3. It just occurred to me that when we have everything, nothing (seemingly) has value. Please, Tess, can you illustrate this in words?

  4. Anon.,
    They were soooo good! Not even this army could eat them all however, so there are some in the freezer. Does that tempt you?

    I'm glad it made you laugh; I was shaking my head in resigned acceptance.

    Are you issuing another challenge? The 'have it all' and, 'everyone is special' approach to contemporary life is a soap box I frequently climb. Have you seen The Incredibles? It makes some very good statements about the 'special' notion.

    I can make a personal case against 'having it all' and will attempt the writing of it sometime soon.

    Thanks for the comments, and the idea.