Sunday was a bad, bad day for me. My football team, the Arizona Cardinals, were in the National Football Conference championship. One game away from their second trip to a Superbowl. But they not only lost, they were crushed 49 to 15. Not one morsel of goodness was left to a poor humiliated die-hard fan who has been waiting for the team to succeed his entire life. So, how do you recover from that? My wife decided to take me to a hockey game. Surely that would make me feel better. Of course, I was dying at the time of virus-related lung-mangling coughing fits and total lack of will to live. My novel that I have worked so hard on and was so proud of is in jeopardy of never being published. My sky no longer has sunshine. It is only natural that the Dallas Stars hockey team would help. Hockey is my real favorite sport, and I have loved the Stars as my second-favorite team since the 1960’s when they were the Minnesota North Stars.
It should be explained at this point that I love hockey in the same way that I love Mark Twain and the basic concepts of comedy and humor. It all stems from the same basic seed… ridiculous behavior lampooned by its own awareness of itself. Look at how it all started. The hockey gods, Dave and Rick, sat down together beside a frozen lake in Saskatchewan some time in the cold winter in the late 1800’s and decided to invent a national sport for Canada.
“Canada deserves a pretty cool national sport, eh,” said Dave.
“We gotta frozen lake right here, hoser,” answered Rick. “We can take some other sport and do it on ice, eh?”
“You got it, hoser,” said Dave. “What could be cooler than that lacrosse game the Iroquois and the Hurons play? With the whacking sticks and junk! Wouldn’t that look cool on ice, hoser?”
“They’ll never get a good hit in on anybody else’s head if they are slip sliding all around the ice… Let’s put ’em on skates. And we gotta make sure the game ball ain’t too big so they can whip it around with the sticks really, really fast.”
“Yeah, let’s increase the difficulty by taking the net-thingies off the sticks, and let’s make the ball into a little hard rubber disc. We’ll call it a puck. And people will die all the time in this high-speed multiple-projectile game with lots of whacking sticks!”
“Truly excellent idea, hoser. You are one really great hockey god!”
“You too, hoser… you too.”
So you can see by this carefully researched and verified origin story that hockey is not a sport to be taken lightly. Grown men with skates and sticks going around in circles really, really fast, trying to whip a puck past the goaltender into a net and at the same time trying to avoid all manner of collisions… though not trying very hard.
So my wife drags me to the American Airlines Center, the arena the Stars share with the NBA Dallas Mavericks. We get in easy enough, and then march all the way up to the three hundreds’ sections where all the cheap seats are. To get there, you must go up and up and up on multiple escalators, get to the arena roof, and take the stairs up higher still. This we do with Filipino friends in tow… who know absolutely nothing about this whacky sport, but they like big spectacles and the arena food. And I have the added benefit that they will believe absolutely anything I tell them about the game. Oh, it turns out it could be really fun after all! And I wouldn’t even have to lie to make their eyes pop out of their heads.
Of course, from the rafters with the bats, the game looks like a bunch of colorful ants scrabbling all over a big white postage stamp, but the new highlights screen makes it kinda like watching TV at home, except with lots of expensive snacks that you have to go mountain-climbing for and drunk guys that have had too much of the beer that vendors actually carry up into the stands. (One fight actually almost broke out in the crowd near us, three rows down, but the young guy got scared of the really loud and old fat guy who was yelling obscenities at him and scurried away faster than a drunk fat guy can follow.)
Of course, my wife never lets me bring binoculars to these things because I might lose them… and also because the Ice Girls who scrape the ice during time-outs wear skates and very little else. I have to look at the big hanging TV very closely during those times. Especially when those times occur while wifey is down the mountainside searching for affordable snacks.
And, of course, it is always a very welcome thing when the Stars win. As you have probably guessed, I don’t get to see my favorite teams win in front of me very often, and we have to savor those things when they occur.