Posts Tagged ‘ice hockey’

What I hate about Ice Hockey

May 26, 2017

My days off are Sundays and Mondays.  If you work at a restaurant or
as a barber, that’s just how it goes.  Sundays are reserved for my
son’s hockey and then my daughter.  One is a peewee and the other a
mite.  Sunday night, this time of year, I watch hockey if it is on or
baseball on ESPN.  I make lunches like a good mother and then sit on
the couch with a glass of red wine.  Sounds boring, right?  This is
after working about eighty hours between Tuesday and Saturday, playing
hockey four to five times, visiting the gym to lift and so on.
Monday, I get up with my daughter; drive an hour through bullshit
traffic.  Slow ass trucks and fucks that if you leave two feet of
space, will slam their car in front of you just they can have the
illusion of getting somewhere faster even though we’re going slower
than a geriatric on a bike.  I drop my daughter off at school,
navigate my way towards a rink in the city, arrive and change in just
enough time to play.  This is after a Kind Bar and two cups of coffee
and a Gatorade.  It will be the same crew to play pick-up hockey on
Monday as on Tuesday at the same time.  The United Airlines boys who
wear white jerseys with red letters that read “POLSKA”.  I used all
the Polish I learned going with my good friend P back in the day when
we would hang out at Euro/Polish nightclubs.  Finally they told me in
English that they are not Polish.  They got their asses kicked by a
team from Poland in a tournament in Prague, became great friends in a
bar together.  There is B from Toronto who has great hands, speed and
a shot for a man who could receive an AARP card.  There is J, the cop
who tells corny jokes that one might hear in a barbershop and anything
unusual that might have happened over the weekend, out on the street.
I ask him what the body count was over the weekend and he tells me
that he has a good one for me.
“So we get a call that a body is found in a garbage can.  I get there
and one of the guys who took the call grabs me as I’m getting out of
the car…  You know G, right?  Good hockey player.  He says to me,
“Sarge, I think you may recognize this girl”.  I open the lid to the
garbage to find a large ass and even larger asshole staring me in the
face…  Sick fuckers.  Sick sense of humor.”
Of course I asked what happened.  I guess when you see horrible shit
like that, details are not important.  A craigslist call girl who
partied to hard with her client, overdosed and died.  The man who
stuffed her into the garbage reasoned that he would be held
responsible for her death since it was his apartment and drugs.
Rather than call the police, the John got an empty garbage can and a
dolly and wheeled the date out to the alley.  The fuzzy reasoning man
put the can squarely in the parking spot of a man who came home,
lifted the lid and found a dead body…  Sad as it is astounding.
Then there is the young quiet guy who chokes up on his stick on break
always like a shiny stick.  T the Goth goalie, covered in tattoos,
wears a jersey that reads “Fuck You” and the numbers 666 on the back.
He talks about a video he is making for his Heavy Metal band and a
possible tour of Japan.  There is B the fireman and Y, the former
Olympic wrestler for Canada that was raised orthodox Jewish in
Montreal and that was also a symphonic flute player who quit it all to
become a PHD.  Since he wrestled as a boy, he wasn’t allowed to play
hockey and so now he is making up for lost time as a boy.  We play.  I
take one shot but have about 10 assists just with P who I give the
puck in our zone that goes coast to coast and scores.  I took two
shots, scored once.  I’m a play make and passer who plays defence and
everyone knows that.  One guy on the bench, who saw me roll my eyes,
asked me when we were done playing what it was that I hated most about
hockey.  I told him nothing.  Hockey has never fought with me or made
me mad.  A few guys who play the sport have done that. I unloaded a
few things in a snarky way but as I drove away from the rink, I
thought about the things I hate that surround the game.
Where do I begin?  Let’s begin with beginners.  You can’t fault
anyone for loving hockey and taking it up.  What is astounding is the
guy who can barely skate and carry the puck that receives the puck and
skates about as fast as someone can walk, in a straight line and
immediately loses the puck in the neutral zone.  After the fourth
time, I finally ask the culprit if they are noticing a pattern.  No
passing, head down, skating slow…  Bam, it’s gone.  That same guy does
not believe he is good enough to play defence because he has to work
on his backwards skating.  That same guy is two feet away from me when
I get the puck.  Who do I pass to?  Not that guy.  That guy needs to
use the door to get on and off the ice but does not bother to close
the door when he uses it.  He wears an NHL jersey with somebody’s name
on it other than himself.  Matching gloves, socks and a helmet sticker
with the number he wears at his Sunday night absolute beginner team.
He may show up with a few friends from his team and they inevitably
all want to be on the same team.  It becomes one big huge penalty kill
for 90 minutes.  You can hear him coming down the hall.  He has the
brand new wheel bag.  He has no wheels but his bag does.  Then there
are the young guys who have a little skill and all think their Patrick
Kane with the puck.  They skate end to end with out passing.  Toe
drags, kicking it up between their legs to their stick.  You make eye
contact with the kid and he still won’t pass to you.  You get a work
out getting open for no reason.  I finally do one of two things when
that young man is on my team.  I either take the puck off of his stick
and when he asks what the fuck I’m doing, I respond that I thought
that he was on his own team.  If I don’t do something that drastic, I
will just skate ahead of him offside and wait for the same rhetorical
question- What the fuck are you doing?  Answer- teaching you to move
the puck… Asshole.  That same guy gets violent when you stick check
him a little.  He tells you the price of the stick like that would
mean anything to me.  Your stick is expensive and too good for you.
My brother one time told me that he felt like everyone is an asshole.
It was after he came to that conclusion that he discovered that he was
the asshole.  I don’t want to be the asshole but I just want people to
play the game with respect.  You never see the pro’s play like what I
described.  You want to wear a Crosby jersey and play like an
oblivious misfit?  I hope Crosby shows up at the rink, slaps you and
demands his jersey back until you learn to play the game right.  Maybe
I’m the asshole.  I’ll work on my attitude and you straight line,
wheel bag, door opening, colour coordinating dufus, work on getting
your head out of your ass.

I’m kept my legs crossed for Ottawa tonight.  I think a win by them
would have been good for hockey and Canada.

Slapshot quote of the day- “What did he say?”  “He said OWNS”

Hockey Coach Versus Baseball Coach

May 19, 2017

I love the sport of baseball.  I grew up playing it in the park and
then one day I spent the night at a friend’s house and went with him
to his little league practice.  The coach of that team told my mom he
would pay my fee if she would let me play.  I wasn’t on my way to the
Dodgers but I was slightly above average and a good pitcher.  When I
go to see my stepson, it brings me back to those days.  My stepson
plays baseball and ice hockey.  I happen to be his hockey coach and so
when I sit in the stands and watch the ball game, I try to just take
it in.
The baseball coach is a local dad who often holds a Starbucks
purchased mug with a top.  Draped over the top of the mug are two or
three tags attached to tea bags.  He sits in the dug out and
encourages kids who are swinging at definite balls and not strikes.
“Good cut, babe…  Don’t help him out now.  Wait for your pitch…  Good
swing now.”
My girlfriend laughed at my coaching style with junior high aged boys
and giggled at the rah-rah nature of  the baseball coach.  Here is how
my pregame speech goes.
Big G is bullying kids in the locker room.  It is all verbal but
nonetheless.  I is the son of my assistant.  His hair is down to his
shoulders and his dad is bald.  I is prone to fucking off before games
too.  I and Big G are not anywhere near dressed for the game.  I come
twenty minutes before the game and give my disclaimer.
“For those of you not dressed in the next few minutes and out in the
hallway stickhandling, you can sit the entire first period.  You think
I’m bullshiting you?  Five minutes…”
Miraculously they are all dressed and taking turns warming up their
hands with a weighted ball.  I take a racquet ball and throw it off of
the wall for the goalie to get warmed up.  When the Zamboni hits the
ice, we go back to the locker room for the final pep talk before
hitting the ice.
“These little bastards have the same access to the league website as
you.  They see you are undefeated and are not going to come in here
and not try.  They know they will have to try harder than ever to beat
the best team in the league.  This is like tug of war.  You pull fast
and hard and get them face first in the shit…  How do you end a
fistfight most of the time?  Who knows?”
One of the guys whose nut hadn’t dropped yet answers.  He is four
feet tall with hair down to his shoulders and has a smile like Jack
Nicholson in The Shining.  He leads the team in penalty minutes and is
the one most likely to hit someone hard.  E is the son of Argentinian
immigrants.  He plays violin and is sadistic.  E answers first.
“Throw the first punch…”
“That’s it…  You hit first, while they’re trying to get their shit
together, you’ve already landed a blow.  Get that first goal.  Fucking
bury them and then we can just play catch when it is running time.
Are we clear?  Remember…  Your goalie is a boy with goalie equipment
and not a goalie.  He just started this sport and it will be your job
to pretend like you have an empty net behind you…  Recap…  No shots,
punch first, pull them face down in the shit…  When you have them by
the nuts, squeeze hard.”
The first period was listless.  The team looked at an under 500 team
and felt that a half speed effort would be enough.  The speech between
the first and second period went like this…
“You all are skating like a bunch of zombies…  Chip the puck into the
neutral zone, gain the centerline, dump it deep and fore check like
you might kill them.  You’re all waddling in like you’re walking out
to right field.  You give their D a chance to get the puck and make a
smart option, they will.  Take that time from them…  Wake up or I will
find 5 guys willing to play this game the way it should be played and
the rest of you can sit and watch.”
Big G tied up the center in a face off in the other team’s zone.  It
is a designed play where the center is tied up and the Defense walks
in and shoots the puck.  We scored on that.  An astute ref would call
interference.  Most of the time they don’t.  The game was close until
the third period and then we broke it open.  Kids got the puck in
deep, worked it back to the point and crashed the net.  After the game
I gave my post game speech.
“We should have buried this team.  They should have had the puck much
less than they did.  You guys forgot how to push yourselves but
tomorrow at practice, we are going to take a little time and remember
to push hard.  You’re tired, the puck squeaks out to the neutral zone,
your gassed and on a break away.  That’s where you find it within you
to finish.  I’m going to help you with that tomorrow.  I don’t want to
hear you have baseball or ballet or whatever.  Your ballet coach
doesn’t give a shit about me and I don’t give a damn about them.
Baseball is barely a sport.  Be here tomorrow.”
C, my stepson had a baseball game the day after the practice.  His
jovial coach gave his post game speech after the team got spanked
18-2.  I’m not going to judge him.  We all have our ways.  I could
hear the post-game talk from the dug out.
“Guys…  I saw some really positive things tonight.  We have to work
on our hitting, fielding, catching and pitching.  I’m not going to lie
to you all.  This was a rough game.  It will get better.  Keep your
chins up.  See you all at practice.”
Was it because a fat child was put at first base that could not bend
far enough to field ground balls?  Was it because the coach’s son
walked in ten runs?  Maybe it was that kids didn’t know how many outs
there were, dropped third strikes, missed cutoff men and a gross
inability to catch and hit.  In the car, the question was posed to me-
how would you have handled this loss?  Answer- a whole lot different.

Nashville and Ottawa- How does that sound to you?

Slapshot quote of the day- “When I yank it everyone with the exception
of my wife will be running for the exits…”

Trying to Remember…

May 12, 2017
I brought a photo album that my grandmother put together over to where
she now lives which is a waiting room for death.  Assisted living is
what they call it.  It was nursing and convalescent when I was a boy.
You walk in and a room full of old people look up to see if you are
the person that they have been waiting and hoping to see.  I’m not the
guy they been waiting to see.
So my grandmother has essentially been my mother my whole life and my
mom was kind of like a mom and not like a mom at the same time.
Anyone 16 years old, should never have a child and so I don’t totally
blame her for lapses.  I go to see my grandmother when I can.  Within
the last three years, her husband died, her dogs were put to sleep and
her house was sold.  Dementia has been taking hold of her and it get’s
stronger all the time.
“Did you see my mother wandering the hallway?  She’s got two guys
that she runs around with and if they ever catch her with the other,
there’s gonna be a fight.”
“No, grandma…  I didn’t see her…  I brought this nice photo album of
your garden and your dogs.”
She looked at it as if she had never seen it before.  She thought the
dogs looked cute.  A Bassett Hound and a Dachshund, both became
adopted pets which I initially purchased for my adult daughter when
she was a girl.  It got me to thinking, how will I chronicle my life?
Nobody takes pictures anymore and presents a slideshow on Christmas or
Easter.  You take pictures on your phone and upload it to social media
and when your phone falls in the shitter, those pics are gone forever.
The only thing I hate more than taking pictures, is being in pictures.
So putting together photo albums like my grandmother did going back to
her youth, World War II, the birth of my dad and uncle, my life and
then my children’s youth, won’t be possible.  I guess I’ll need to
write shit down and let one of my kids read this stuff back to me and
ask if this stuff really happened.  I’ve had an interesting life but
then again, a lot of people have also.  They can write their own
fucking blog.  This one is mine.
To look at me, you might not guess right off that I play ice hockey .
After a few minutes, you might notice scars on my face and a cracked
front tooth and wonder how I got so beat up around the face.  Some
people ask.  Most never do.  You might never guess that I have an
upright bass and play Ska/Reggae music, sing and write the music I
play.  I am fluent in French and have surprised a few people when the
French language is spoken and I join in.  I really don’t like French
culture, French people and I’ve never really wanted to go to France.
I’ve used it on visits to Martinique and Quebec.  I have three
children.  Two by a woman of African descent by way of Cuba and one by
the other by way of Jamaica.  I know you’re thinking… Ah yes.  Black
women, Reggae…  Of course.  The woman I’m with now is white and blonde
and I’m not liberal in my political views.  With that said, let’s talk
about hockey.
B texted me and told me that for sure there were going to be two
goalies at the rink near downtown.  He’s a cop on the night shift and
I own a restaurant/bar so we play pick-up hockey during the day time.
We usually play at a rink near the airport but I decided to meet him
out at the rink just west of downtown.  The Zamboni guy whose name I
never learned, recognized me and asked me where I’ve been.  I used to
play at the rink two to three times a week.  I found skates that were
more to my liking and so I stopped going to the downtown rink.
“Everyone is at J’s skate…  You know that.  Nobody comes here on
Wednesdays.  Just then M walked in.  M, is a bus driver and is black
and a goalie.  He is a virtual Rain Man with statistics of all hockey,
NHL and minor league.  He has a voice like the Chef from South Park.
He could sing, Old Man River, with his deep baritone voice.  Next
walked in B and his friend K.  K just finished playing midgets about a
year ago.  K has good hands and a quick shot.  I talked to him about
playing juniors in the past while sitting on the bench, waiting for
our shift.  K says that he just wants to get on with life and that he
doesn’t think that juniors will lead him anywhere.  One more guy
showed up and so I decided to stay.  Two on two half ice with a
goalie.  A good work out with a lot of passing and turning.  My game
is one of passing.  I believe that there can never be enough passing.
Good things come from passing.  There is a time when one should pass
and when one has to pass.  Those that know the difference are good and
smart hockey players.  K and I played against B and young guy wearing
a practice jersey from a USHL team.  He was young, average height, had
a good shot, good speed and good hands.  He was probably no better
than K.  I covered B and K covered the USHL kid.  I passed and dropped
down to create a cycle in the corner.  If you’re not familiar with a
cycle, picture that you have the puck and you’re skating towards the
goalie.  Rather than shoot the puck at the goalie, you make a right or
left turn and skate up the boards towards the blue line.  You then
look over your shoulder and drop the puck behind you along the boards
to your team mate that is coming up the boards behind you.  You make
that pass and then circle back so that you’re now following the guy
who was just following you.  He can drop it again or cut to the net
and get a pass on his way to the net.  I did this over and over and
scored a bunch of times.  I wondered how a kid from the USHL and B who
has played over twenty years since he was a kindergartener, could not
pick up on what I was doing.  We wore ourselves out doing this for
about an hour.  I looked up in the stands and little four and five
year olds were watching us.  I looked up to a small boy sitting next
to his mother and asked him if he was faster than me.  The mother
smiled and the boy nodded.
The weather was just warm enough to lay my equipment out in the
backyard.  Nothing is better to kill the stink and sweat of wet hockey
equipment better than the sun.  It’s not a fact, just my opinion.  I
walked over to a little Mexican restaurant with the newspaper and had
huevos rancheros…  The newspaper opinion section was down on Trump for
firing the head of the FBI.  The whole Democratic Party is calling for
a special prosecutor to look into Trump’s involvement with the
Russians and the Russian’s involvement with our election.  Interesting
to note that the same politicians who were astounded by James Comey’s
firing, were all calling for his head back when he was investigating
Hillary Clinton’s missing emails, use of a private server with
government business.  Today, Trump is painted to be just like Nixon.
Nixon wanted the special prosecutor fired and had to fire someone who
refused to do the firing on his behalf.  Nixon found a man named Bork
who fired the special prosecutor.  Bork was shot down as a supreme
court justice nominee due mostly to being the hatchet man for Nixon.
So Trump fired a man the Democrats felt  had done too much and that
the Republicans felt had not done enough.  Sometimes when you’re a
nice guy, it backfires and everyone hates your and finds you inept.
Better to be respected than loved.
I finished lunch, went back to the restaurant and got ready for the
night.  Washed left over dishes from the night before, bar and dinner
dishes.  Washed the floor, set tables and then went upstairs to my
apartment and practiced the bass in preparation for a gig Friday night
at my own place.  I had a rather quiet Groupon night.  Two young Asian
girls as cute as could be.  They’ll need to be carded for the next
thirty years since they look like junior high girls now.  They had a
charcuterie plate and a few empanadas and giggled a lot through their
chatter.  Another couple sat at the bar and agonized over which wine
to buy.
“What can you tell me about this wine?”
I make up plausible bullshit.  Truth is that 95% of the people who
come in cannot tell the difference in any of the wines.  They sniff,
they swirl and it’s all something they learned in Napa.  The husband
was chubby and kind of pushy.
“What do you have that’s a special?”
I’m always ready for that question.
“Everything on the menu is really special to me…”
I know what he meant.  Looking for something for next to nothing with
his Groupon.  His hips were wider than his shoulders and he was sort
of a whiny bitch.  His wife talked to him about the fact that he stole
her pillow a few times during the night.  I’m behind the bar and feel
compelled to ask at least one question.  His wife answers while he
studied his phone.  She seemed nice and genuine and out of his league.
That happens a lot.
The last table was a chubby woman across from a MILF.  The MILF
looked like she just got done with a yoga class.  The chubby woman
looked frumpy and looked at her friend while ordering instead of
making eye contact with me.  They ate a little, drank a little, paid
their bill and then sat for an extra hour.  I often wonder what  women
can talk about one on one for over two hours.  I was just happy as
hell that it wasn’t a Thursday because Thursday night I go to play
hockey after closing up and two women loitering for an extra hour is a
definite hockey cock block.
They left and I turned off all the lights to the bar and put on the
Anaheim/Edmonton game and ate and had some wine.  When one of the
Anaheim skaters skated in front of his net, in front of his goalie and
the Edmonton forechecker shuffleboarded the shot past the Anaheim
goalie who was just standing their like a scare crow, I thought
Edmonton was on it’s way.  On paper, they have almost what Edmonton
had beck in the eighties with Gretsky, Messier, Coffey and Grant Fuhr.
The Ducks woke up and crushed Edmonton in the second period and
stymied them in the third…  Dommage.  I’m hoping for Ottawa but feel
like Pittsburg is going to repeat.
Slapshot line of the day- Maurice, you make sick when you talk like that..

You’ll Get So Tired of Winning…

November 30, 2016

The Whackers or Little Whackers as they were known, had a Thanksgiving
Day tournament game that had to be played outside at a refrigerated
rink on a perfect late Fall day if you have to play ice hockey
outside- no sun, no rain, no wind and about 41 degrees Fahrenheit or 5
degrees Celsius if you live anywhere else in the world other than the
United States.

Coach Grimm walked in the locker room belonging to the Pee Wee
Whacker team.  Some of the boys were getting dressed, a few were
practicing stickhandling with a ball designed to practice stick work
with a puck when you can’t be on the ice.  A few just sat there cold
in their hoodies, not motivated to move yet because they were tired
and cold.  The regular coach quit after a dozen games after having to
take a job out of town or some bullshit.  Truth be told- the first
coach grew tired of guys not trying, not listening, not passing, not
pushing themselves and complaints by parents.  The Whackers went out
and got a veteran out of mothballs to help save the season.  Things
were looking up.  Coach Grimm showed up with his verbal pregame cattle
prod.  One of the players made the mistake of asking the coach if the
game they were about to play counted in the stats.
“When I wake up early on Thanksgiving morning, put my underwear on,
my pants on, my shoes on and drive to wherever the fuck this place is
to coach a game…  Yes it matters.  It matters to me and it should
always matter to you…  Turn off that ghetto fucking music.”
The one player with yellow tints in his brown hair, glared at the
coach as he turned off his Bluetooth connected to a Bose speaker.
“Sagging pants and bad poetry with a voice modulator will not be
tolerated any longer in the locker room.  It’s not music…  Now you
know…”
Coach paced back and forth looking at the ground and ceiling while
speaking to the players.
“When I joined you merry bunch, you were two wins and eight loses and
you’re now four wins and no losses since I’ve joined you.  Wanna no
the secret?  I don’t take bullshit. I’m not your babysitter or
substitute teacher… Why do you play hockey?  Cause your mom wants to
sleep with Jonathan Toews or your dad never quite made it to juniors,
The A or the show and thinks you got something just a bit more special
than the average beater playing this game?  All parents think too
highly of their kids. Who knows.  What I know after coaching this game
four times longer than you been alive, since your daddy was living in
his daddy’s balls and dinosaurs walked the earth…  You have to want to
fucking win.   Not just hope to win.  You have to decide that you’re
willing to go through a wall if necessary to get the win.  Puck is
loose…  The guy on the other team should be ready to shit himself at
the idea that you might put him through the boards as soon as he
touches that puck.  The opposition should marvel at the fact that you
move the puck like the Harlem Globetrotters passed a basketball and
that every shift, you play like it’s the last shift of game seven of
the Stanley Cup finals.  People who don’t know this sport will tell
you that wins and losses don’t matter.  Ask those people if it matters
to them that the person they voted for in the presidential elections,
lost…  Went down in flames.  Which brings me to this analogy-
elections and hockey are like a tug of war.  It’s momentum and
psychological.  You want to be sure that you’re all pulling together
to get your opposition face down in the muck, the slime, and the shit.
You want them to accept losing before they lose by being tougher.
You’re going to leave here in 90 minutes.  The Turkey will taste
better tonight if you win.  It always does when you win.  If you lose,
lose with your goalie pulled and you bombarding the other team with
seconds to go on the clock.  You should never get your ass kicked if
you’re ready for work on time. “
The kids looked at their coach who was old enough to be a
grandfather, who could still out skate them.  Bald, facial scars and a
chipped tooth from a high stick, which was fixed and then knocked out
again by a high puck to the face.  There was something inspiring in
his off the wall comments.
“Way back in 1973…  Maybe 74, the years all blend together…  There
was a kid from an Indian reservation who was fast and mean.  He would
slash the shit out of players and body them like he wanted to kill
them.  I was intimidated by The Chief.  He was quiet, mean and
determined to win.  The Chief come up the boards and I clipped him
with my hip.  I didn’t see it but others told me he cartwheeled and
had a ribbon of snot that wrapped around his helmet.  Was I bigger
than Chief?  Stronger?  Faster?  Probably not.  I got into his head by
knocking the shit out of him like a truck hit him.  If you gain the
centerline and dump that puck in the corner and then bury the Defense
as soon as they touch that puck in the corner, they’ll be whipping
that puck anywhere not to get clobbered.  You take away time and space
by bearing down on their asses by fore-checking at full speed…  Hands
in the middle.  Take a look at one another.  You need each other to
win.  This isn’t fucking golf; you need each other to do this right.
Why were the Beatles so good?  Because they played together…  The best
way to win a fistfight is to throw the first punch and keep swinging
until they stop moving…  This is a new era about to happen.  You have
a new coach.  You have a new president.  Things are going to be a
little different, a little raw…  If your new president was here
cheering you on today, what he say?
“Big?”
“Huge?”
“Make the Whackers great again?”
“Grab them by the pussy?”
“That’s it boys!  Your president would tell you that you’re going to
win so much that you’ll get tired of winning and he would tell you to
grab them by the pussy.  Let’s win this shit and give thanks that we
live in a country where we can take a day off to play the greatest
game ever invented…  Ice hockey.  Let’s go fucking get them!”

The Emperor’s New Clothes or F#ck the Cubs

October 28, 2016

Gil and Gail packed up their deviled eggs and New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc that they bought while in New Zealand and headed over to their friends Tom and Tam. It was a beautiful fall night more like summer than fall with a full moon. The event was a baseball game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Chicago Cubs. Tom, a huge Cubs fan, set up a television outside in front of a fire pit and a trampoline off in the distance.
Gil was born and raised in Los Angeles and was a life long Dodgers fan stranded in the midwest. He walked past a teacher’s union lawn sign and three different lawn signs for Hillary Clinton and a giant blue W painted on a plain white background to signify a win for the Chicago Cubs on the way to Tom and Gail’s backyard. Gail and Tam really liked one another. They met at a Pilates class and became great friends. They watched the Kardashians together at different homes and texted about it at night. Their sons played youth hockey together and Gil was the hockey coach. Gil was quiet owner of an ice hockey pro shop who played hockey, sold hockey and played hockey four to five days a week. Gil and Tammy’s son was thin and good-looking, fast and capable at being a scoring threat at every game. Tom and Tam’s son had man boobs and hips wider than his shoulders. The bookish son of Tom and Tam was slow and had a weak shot. Gil took their son as a favor to his wife who really wanted a friend up in the stands to sit with at games. Tom was jealous that Gil was in good shape and was a good skater and coach. Tom couldn’t skate but was wealthy and had season tickets to all Cubs and Chicago Blackhawks games. Tom was a partner at a law firm and drove a Range Rover and a Corvette with personalized Cubs and Blackhawks Illinois license plates. One license said PWR PLAY 69 and the other said LUV CUB 69. Gil had no hair, was built and had a half missing tooth much like the hockey great Alex Ovechkin and a face full of scars from years of playing ice hockey without facial protection. Gil refused to wear a cage or a half shield while playing and looked like a rough neck. Tom wore black horned rimmed glasses and had looked like an LL Bean model in front of his $5000.00 built in backyard grill, 50 inch television exclusively for the backyard and excellent sound system. A band from the 1980’s called Haircut 100 blared through the speakers while the ball teams silently  took batting practice. Gil stood with a bowl of deviled eggs in a LA Dodgers hat and shirt. Tom wore a Cubs hat with a T-shirt that had a large W on it. He was cooking filet mignon, he offered Gil a beer. Gil declined as he was gluten-free. It irritated Gil when Tom would offer him a beer. Even though Gil had declined dozens of times, Tom would still offer a beer to Gil. Gil had Ceiliaks disease which prevented him from processing gluten properly.
“Tam remembered and purchased a gluten-free, lesbian safe beer for you from Trader Joe’s… You can be like every other man around this town watching this game tonight and start the night properly with a beer.”
Gil opened the beer, tapped it against the bottle Tom was holding and talked about their son’s hockey team. Gil was careful not to say too much and let Tom comment on the high and low points of the season.
“The goalie is brutal… It is truly a testament to your defense that we’ve been in every game. Do you put your best skaters on defense always?”
Gil took a drink of his beer and pondered the best answer to a question he didn’t care to answer truthfully. Gil felt that it was a good idea to be as cryptic as possible with parents when it came to playing time, position and lines. Gil played Tom and Tam’s son on the first line even though he was a slow, tentative, ineffective player. It was a political move to appease his wife who was considering her friend’s feelings.
“I try to find a balance…”
“That is a beautifully scripted answer, coach. People try to figure out where you’re coming from. They want to know if there is something deeper to your tactics. I think mystery comes off as deep but I think I have you figured out, coach…”
“Tommy… This is a night all about baseball. I’m ready to take the night off of hockey. A full moon, great fucking weather, good food, booze and the Dodgers poised to make a California boy proud…”
Beer turned to scotch and then to wine. Bottles and bottles. Blue cheese on choice steaks with gluten-free pasta. It was a night to remember. A clear, full moon and August like weather in October. The game turned ugly for Gil. The Dodgers tanked and were getting crushed by the Cubs. It was a debacle not unlike when Gil was young and the Dodgers would lose every year to the Yankees. It might have been a moment of hurt pride that caused Gil to change from a good-natured fan to a critical observer of the type of man he disdained- bragging, rich, unathletic, pudgy Chicago fan. The Dodgers were losing by a touch down when Tom lit a cigar and laughed at the score between innings. Gil told Gail that he wanted to leave. she was having a great time without having to watch her children and she did not want to cut the night short and return home yet. The game ended with a huge Cubs win. Tam put on a song that harkened back to Burt Bacharach buy a band called Cousteau. No relation to Jacques called, The Last Good Day of the Year.
There’s something there
Among the fallen fruit and flowers, won’t rest
Only minutes, only hours unless
Now the morning breaks in showers, I guess
We’ll remember this all of our lives
On the last good day of the year
Gil sat and looked at the full moon as a gentle breeze blew through the leaves in the trees that were ready to turn colors and fall. Tom was going on and on about the Cubs and then switched to politics. After a beer, a scotch and many glasses of wine, Gil was ready to speak freely, uninhibited or reserved. Tom was taken by surprise.
“Fuck you. Fuck the Cubs, fuck unions, fuck Hillary and fat kids who really don’t want to play ice hockey… Enjoy your win you fucking pompous asshole. I hope Hillary gets the same fucking treatment Nixon got for the minor shit he did compared to that cunt.”
Gil knew that his wife hated the word cunt and that most women had a thing against the word. Both Tam and Gail gasped and tried to get Gil to calm down. It only made him angrier.
“You want to let all the Mexicans in? All the Syrians? Every fucking moderate who makes their wife cover their whole fucking face like a goddamn Ninja? Fuck you and your W shirt and Hillary lawn sign… Your kid is going to wind up with heart disease by high school if you don’t discover the word no. No you can’t eat whatever you want and drink sugary bullshit. Your son has bitch tits… I know that might be harsh to hear but you can thank the Cubs and Hillary. Bitch fucking tits on a 10-year-old and why? Because you can’t say no to him? You wanna know why my kid is fast? Because he eats yogurt instead of gummy worms and fucking Doritos…”
” I think you’re angry Tom…”
“Yes, I am. When unathletic fucks like you gloat, I get mad. You don’t know dick about how to really win and it falls into your lap tonight and you’re like a fucking scientist about baseball. Yes… The fast capable kids play defense on my teams and really I believe your son would be happier with a hot dog and a drink up in the stands next to you than forechecking. You got season tickets and you want your little son of sam to play like Kane or Toews.”
Gail came up and hugged Gil and put her hand over his mouth. Gil pushed Gail away in a way that let her know that he was not done. Tom had enough drinks to stand up to Gil and he did.
“You’re mad that the Dodgers lost and that Trump is about to go down in flames. Too many people do not buy into the Hitleresque bullshit spewed by Trump. Mexicans are the paste that holds this country together. Who is going to do the shit they do for the money they make? Big strong, stupid, flag waving, tear-in-the-eye patriot who hates anything not white. You’re the big hockey coach but you weren’t quite good enough to make it so what do you do? You coach.”
Gil took a step towards Tom with the thought to give Tom a smack. Tom sneered and raised his chin as if to say, “smack me! I don’t give a shit.”
“You know something, fuckface? I won’t ever apologize for being white. I won’t ever apologize for not blindly trusting people who hate me. Vote for whoever you fucking want. Why do we all got to know who it is? Why not put up a lawn sign that says you need a little blue pill and porn to make it with your old lady? You know what? All I need is a little text telling me to get home fast and my dick hurts to be cramped up in my jeans knowing that it’s going between my old lady’s legs just as soon as possible. You like baseball analogies? I’m the fucking closer who doesn’t need a warm up pitch. Put me in cold and I’ll finish the game…”
The women left the two men alone who were about to come to blows. Tom was about to rebut Gil when the women put on a song from the 1980’s from their youth. It was a Sinead O’Connor song called The Emperor’s New Clothes. In the light of the moon, the two men watched their rather fit middle-aged wives sing and bounce on the trampoline naked slathered in coconut oil. The oil glistened off of their breasts. The men stopped fighting and looked on at their wives without saying a word. Tom poured a glass of wine for himself and Gil. The men stripped down to nothing and joined the ladies on the trampoline on probably the last good day of the year. The song played on repeat while they made love or something resembling love beside one another.
Everyone can see what’s going on
They laugh `cause they know they’re untouchable
Not because what I said was wrong
Whatever it may bring
I will live by my own policies
I will sleep with a clear conscience
I will sleep in peace
Maybe it sounds mean
But I really don’t think so
You asked for the truth and I told you
Through their own words
They will be exposed
They’ve got a severe case of
The emperor’s new clothes

Hockey On Monday’s Only

April 21, 2016

“This is a new era…  There are many things you can’t say no more.  I grew up with 30 different names just for black people.  Then you had the Jews, Asians, Hispanics and then the gays.  Gay could have meant actually gay or it could have meant stupid, wimpy or retarded back then.  We can’t use retarded today either.  The day is coming when we won’t be able to call another man a pussy and maybe it’s good and maybe it’s not…  I dunno.  All I do know for sure is that people, some people, want your head on a stick today…  The gays are season ticket holders in this small town.  We could have been stuck in minor league hockey half way up the arctic circle in towns where they only want to see guys get their brains bashed in out in the fucking tundra.  It’s a nice town here.  We’re in Florida for fuck’s sake.  The league wants us to come down hard on you.  Like they want us to get rid of you.  This is the fourth time.  Fines, suspensions and sensitivity training and you’re still calling people names like homos, faggots, queers, gayrods…   What the fuck is wrong with you?”

Byron pulled his long hair back and took a sip of his coffee.  The nerve was still alive in one of his teeth that was cracked in half from a puck to the face from the night before.  He had stitches in his chin and his left eye watered for years involuntarily from a stick to the eye.  Byron was a low-level warrior born in a town near Sudbury, Ontario.  He played two levels below the NHL, earned $32,000.00 a year and lived in a trailer park outside of Fort Myers, Florida.  When Lord Byron as he was known wasn’t playing ice hockey, we was sitting outside his double wide trailer, drinking beer with the neighbors, having lot’s of sex and riding his motorcycle.  Byron didn’t care about being a fourth liner on an NHL team.  In Florida, he was a star in the community.  He did local commercials for Mexican restaurants, car dealerships and bail bonds.  He started a summer camp strictly for obese children that didn’t have the money to go to fat camps.  Byron loved his life.  Slowly, the town to the west, nearest the ocean, became a hot spot for older gay couples from the northern part of the United States as well as Quebec.  There were a lot of French-speaking gay couples too.  Byron grew up thinking that all French speaking Canadians were gay.

So here’s what happened- A team from Macon, Georgia had a player from Byron’s childhood area that was a native Canadian.  Indian, indigenous whatever you prefer.  The player had crossed checked Byron years ago when they were in youth hockey.  The player got Byron in front of the net and crossed checked his kidneys so hard that he wound up pissing blood for a few days.  It was hard for Byron to move but he finished the game and vowed to seek retribution someday.  The day came for Byron.  The player wound up getting picked up in the southern states by an opposing team.  Byron waited until the player made a pass from the boards in front of his own team’s bench.  He hit the guy who had once made his kidneys bleed from the inside and dumped him head first over the boards.  Then he dropped his gloves and waited for the player to get up, get back on the ice and face him.  The guy wouldn’t fight Byron.  It could have been that Byron had blindsided him and he was winded, dazed from landing on his head or knew Byron was a fighter and that he had thirty pounds on him.

“You fucking faggot…  You’d rather have a cock in your mouth or ass than play hockey, wouldn’t you?  Remember giving me a stick to the back in midgets, you fucking asshole.  I almost had to go on dialysis because of you.  Let’s go, you fucking faggot ass pussy motherfucker.  I’m gonna make you piss blood tonight.”

Byron forgot that he was wired for sound.  To try to build interest in ice hockey in a part of the country that only had ice in little glasses pool side,  the team made all players take turns wearing a camera.  It was Byron’s turn to wear the camera.  Families at home on the internet got to hear Byron in real-time.  Byron killed a lot of interest that day.  Local families watched and heard, everything that went on in a local game that day from Byron’s perspective.  Byron had two fights and a hat trick.  One of his goals was the game winner.  Byron forgot about the camera until the press conference when he was asked how he felt about homosexuals.

“How do I feel about what?  Did you say homosexuals?”

“Yes, that is correct.”

“What kind of question is that?”

“As you know, you were outfitted with a camera that recorded everything that went on in the game from the top of your helmet.  Fans got to really be a part of your goals and fights.  You used a homophobic slur while challenging an opposing player to a fight for an incident that occurred at a previous game when you were a youth.  The fans of south Florida will want to know your thoughts.  We want to be the first to carry it.”

“Well …  You got to understand that certain things are said sometimes but that they don’t mean anything bad towards anyone other than the person it is directed at, eh?  It’s part of the job to occasionally fight and before the fight…  Occasionally there are negotiations and discussions.”

The response made some laugh because they loved the gladiator nature of the sport and others it did not.  Some season ticket holders threatened to cancel their season tickets if Byron was not released from the team.  On local talk radio, it was a mixed bag.  Some liked the way Byron talked and others thought it was not good for children to hear graphic profanity and slams towards the gay community.  After it looked like Byron might be released over the fourth offense, Byron took to the airwaves again and offered an olive branch.

“I’m very sorry about the language I used that was broadcast locally.  I forgot that I had the camera on and well…  There is no excuse for what I said.  When I was a boy, my mother would have stuffed soap in my mouth for using profanity.  I wasn’t raised to swear.  I was raised in a town where I don’t think we had any gays.  We just got used to using that term but we didn’t mean nothing by it.  I understand that I could use other words and terms and so if I hurt anyone’s feelings by my language, I am truly sorry.  I don’t want anyone to feel badly about being gay.  It’s like being left-handed…  I’m left handed.  I often wondered why god made me a lefty when the whole world is righty.  Being gay has to be a little like that.  I dunno exactly but I’m sorry if I made anyone feel bad.  I don’t ever wish to make people feel bad…  If the community will accept my apology, I would like to start a youth and adult hockey program here in south Florida just for the gays.  If you’re gay and a man or a woman, or your a man but you feel like you might be a woman actually or whatever.  I don’t know how it all works…  What I’m offering is a chance for all of you who are gay, to come and learn the game.  Learn to skate, learn to play and have fun.  No charge…  It’s on me.”

Byron thought to call his clinics/camp, Lord Byron’s Hockey School for the Gays or South Florida’s Gay Hockey instead it was given the name a simple name- Lord Byron Hockey.  Games and clinics were on Monday nights.  A web site for it was set up.  The first four words after the name was- Hockey on Monday’s only.  Byron was not to blame for this one.  People laughed it off.  Byron’s camp was a success.  Everyone in the area wanted to learn to play hockey.  Men, women, children, blacks, Hispanics, Asians and homosexuals.  Hockey is actually for everyone.

 

 

 

 

Never Tear Us Apart

July 23, 2013

“My old man dies and doesn’t leave me his antique cars, his house, his summer house, his condo in Florida, his restaurants but he leaves me a fucking horse?”
“Yes… A horse. The horse is housed at the Hazel Park track and is a harness racer. Your father saw to it that all the expenses for the horse are taken care of. There is a note that goes along with this if you would like me to go ahead and read it.” Said the Attorney.
“Sure… Read the fucking note.”
Nicholas,
I had always hoped that you would have had my ambition to succeed and persevere. You had extraordinary talent for ice hockey and were content living in my basement to play beer pong and X-Box. The fact that I owned several Coney Island restaurants and you were content being counter help for minimum wage instead of helping me run things, sent up a red flag years ago. I have left the chain of restaurants to your sister as well as my homes and cars. You can have that beat up old home in Detroit that you now live in with your friend and I too leave you my horse. I was given this horse as a gift and I am giving it to you as a gift. I envision you and your bust-out buddy, sitting in the stands at Hazel Park betting your pittance against your own horse. It is yours to do with as you wish. Your mother always came to your rescue whenever I tried to push you along and you never amounted to much. I love you, Nicholas but could not in good conscience give all that I created to you just to have it melt away. Have fun with the horse.

Dad

“My dad was always a tight waded motherfucker… So when can I see my horse?”
Nick finished playing morning pick up hockey with Anthony at the Hazel Park rink in suburban Detroit and showed up at the stable where their horse was housed. In the stable was a small black man in a Speedo bathing suit and a pair of Timberland boots that was singing and doing Tai Chi moves. He had long hair and was ripped, as he was petite. Josiah sang the INXS song, Two Worlds Colliding. Josiah was unaware of the two large white men watching him as he closed his eyes and sang until tears came to his eyes.

Don’t ask me
What you know is true

Don’t have to tell you
I love your precious heart

I
I was standing,
you were there

Two worlds collided
And they could never tear us apart


We could live
For a thousand years
But if I hurt you
I’d make wine from your tears


I told you
That we could fly
’cause we all have wings
But some of us don’t know why


I
I was standing
You were there,
Two worlds collided
And they could never ever tear us apart.
“Fucking great… I inherited a broken down horse with a gay Sammy Davis Jr. horse jockey.”
The smallish black man stepped up to the two white men without fear. He spoke like the Geico gecko which surprised the men even more.”
“Take me for a fucking poofter will ya? I’ve shagged more female white and dark meat in me loife than Colonel fucking Sanders could shake a stick at, mate. Fuck with me and you’ll be feeding the fucking trees. Now then… Who the fuck are you?”
Josiah’s great-great-great grandfather had been taken on ship from England and dumped in Australia. Josiah’s ancestor was a former slave that was imprisoned and had found aboriginal people and mated with them. Josiah wanted to be a singer and actor and was working his way to Hollywood from Sydney, Australia and was stuck in a quagmire, which was Detroit. Josiah was talking with two career recreational, non-paid ice hockey players who never quite made it and they never made it because they lacked drive and dedication. They coasted throughout their twenties and at the cusp of thirty years of age, they were about to become inspired by a Prince look-a-like who was determined to win harness races, earn enough money and move to California to be discovered.
Josiah took the hands of Anthony and Nick and looked them intently in their eyes and began to sing again.
“You were standing… I was there… Two worlds colliding and they could never tear us apart… We were fucking brought together by a hoi-er being for the purpose of making it, mates. Let’s not fuck this up, eh?”
Nick and Anthony laughed hardy laughs and took their jockey to a Detroit Tigers game and then to the casino. They got trashed and then formed a triumvirate. Within a year, their horse won enough money for Nick and Anthony to buy a low-level minor league hockey franchise for $30,000 in the Michigan League. On Friday and Saturday nights, you can find them playing for their own team at a rink in Suburban Detroit. Patrons pay $5.00 to see fights and a little hockey. Working at a coffee shop in West Hollywood, California is a singing, small black man with a strong Australian accent, passionately desperate to realize his dreams so much so that he inspires all those that he touches to try harder and keep hope truly alive. Two worlds colliding.

Going to see The-rapist or X-Box will kill your marriage

June 14, 2011

Lacey came out of her condominium with her toddler daughter in tow when she noticed her common law husband was asleep on the hood of her car. Lacey swung the Hefty bag full of shit diapers from their daughter’s special poop container that they received at a baby shower which Lacey loved so that the dirty diapers would not stink up the kitchen garbage. Instead it stunk up the child’s bedroom. Lacey swung the garbage bag like a battle axe upon Jeff’s relaxed abdomen. Jeff immediately sat up and looked bleary eyed at Lacey who looked pretty and smelled even better albeit furious.
“You and I are going to go to a marriage counselor or you can get your things and move out. It’s become hockey every night and drinking until dawn while I’m a single mother… This is fricking poppycock, Jeff.”
Jeff went into the apartment and slept for an hour before getting on with his day. By noon time, Jeff had sent a simple text to Lacey. He had decided to send the white flag up the flag poll.
ALTHOUGH I DO NOT BELIEVE WE NEED TO SEE A THERAPIST, I WILL GO IF YOU WANT ME TO.
Ten seconds later, Jeff received an angry text from Lacey.
YOU WILL GO IF I WANT YOU TO!!! YOU’RE DOING ME A FUCKING FAVOR?
Ten seconds later, Jeff sent another text.
I BELIEVE THAT THERE IS SOME MERIT IN HAVING AMODERATOR, THIRD PERSON, DETATCHED, GUN FOR HIRE TO LOOK AT OUR RELATIONSHIP FROM THE STANDS AND TELL US WHAT WE MIGHT BE DOING WRONG. IN OTHERWORDS, I WILL GO.

Jeff and Lacey showed up at the office of a thin woman named Marcy who had two cats that walked around the cushions of the couch and rubbed up against Jeff and Lacey. Jeff hated cats and was suspicious of any man who would choose a cat over a dog. Jeff looked around the room that had copies of French Impressionist paintings and some Asian art next to a smiling Buddha with a Bonsai plant and a tiny waterfall. Marcy had pictures of her bald husband with a beard and moustache that was chubby and shorter than her with their two fat children that had their father’s toothy smile and mother’s close set eyes. The space between Marcy’s eyes were so close, it actually looked like she was cross eyed sort of like Shaquille O’Neal. Jeff thought the whole idea of therapy was a scam but did not want to fight Lacey who had been coached by her friends and Dr. Laura Berman that drawing out hidden, latent, simmering resentment, was the only hope to keep from an eventual break up.
“Jeff, I think what I am hearing from Lacey is that you have trouble connecting and are caught up with things that do not include your fiancé. Playing ice hockey, playing X-Box, playing softball, playing golf, putting together model airplanes in the basement are all things that are fine as an individual but what can you do as a couple that can help you connect? What things do you think that you and Lacey can do together that would help you to be a strong couple again?”
Jeff took a sabbatical from his hobbies and took up Salsa dancing, wine tasting, a pottery class and started seeing plays once a month. On weekends, they would watch a movie together and bang around tennis balls. They went for walks with the dogs and their daughter went to zoos and museums. Jeff was father and partner of the year. He was a role model of compliancy. Lacey’s female friends thought that Jeff had become a renaissance man. Their husbands thought he had been an emasculated wimp who let his testicles dangle from Lacey’s ears like chandelier earrings.
Jeff got the call one evening that his old hockey team needed him to come out and fill in for their new goalie who had taken over for Jeff while he went through his reformation. Jeff asked Lacey if it would be permissible to play a men’s league hockey game at 10:30pm on a Tuesday night. Lacey was looking through an Ikea catalog and watching two gay Australian men on Oprah’s OWN network, redecorate a house in South Carolina. Lacey had her back against the headboard and was nearly ready for bed. Jeff had hoped Lacey would have just gone to sleep so that he could just sneak out, but Lacey had stayed up later than usual. Jeff felt like a little boy again. It felt as though he was asking his mother if he could spend the night at a friend’s house. Jeff hoped to hell that Lacey would not oppose the idea since he had committed to playing the game in advance.
“Jeffery, I am not against you playing ice hockey. I think you need an outlet. I just worry where I fit in when you’re playing five nights a week and then you are shot the next day and need to come home from work and sleep because you have another late night game the next night. I need you and so does your daughter… That’s all I’m saying, baby. You need to keep balance. Go ahead. Have a good time. If you win or lose, remember that goalies don’t win or lose games for a team. They just try to help their teams.”
Jeff kissed his wife carefully who had just slathered vitamin E all over her face and had her hair up in a scarf. Jeff gathered up his gear and headed to the rink. Jeff had a rough first period. He allowed in the first three of four shots and then he became impossible to get past. The team won and decided to go for the proverbial one drink. Jeff had four. Jeff had four drinks and fish tacos with sour cream. At about two in the morning, Jeff took off for home. Jeff began to sweat and it felt as though gerbils were running through his intestines. It became urgent that Jeff find a bathroom before it became impossible to hold it in the diarrhea that was trying to get out the way the French once stormed the Bastille; with vigor and anger.
Jeff got the key to the gas station bathroom that stunk of urine. Jeff hovered slightly above the seat so as to not allow any strange microbes from entering through his asshole. The angle at which he hovered allowed for projectile shit to hit the handle and wall behind him instead of the water below him. Worried that Lacey was in bed, sleeplessly waiting for him, Jeff decided to text Lacey on the status of the situation.
I’M AT A GAS STATION BATHROOM SHITTING MY BRAINS OUT. THE SOUR CREAM MUST HAVE BEEN BAD. I DIDN’T WANT YOU TO WORRY. JUST A TOUCH OF FOOD POISONING, WILL BE HOME SOON.
Before Jeff could hit the send button, the phone slipped out of his hands and into the abyss of brown water in the commode below him. Jeff had to fish through his own excrement to retrieve his phone. It was Jeff’s hope that the water did not reach the inner components. The phone died a tragic death. Jeff swore and was tempted to throw the phone at the wall. Instead he wiped it down and washed his own shit off of his hands before he headed out to his car. Before getting to the car, the sinking feeling came over Jeff that he may have left the keys in the ignition and then locked the door. Jeff could see the keys dangling from the ignition and the doors were locked tight. The night became early morning and the light of day did not make things any easier. Jeff came to on the hood of Lacey’s car. Lacey did not have any dirty diapers to hit him with. Instead Jeff got a face full of organic whole milk from the sippy cup belonging to his daughter. Jeff was startled awake. He leaned on his elbows on the hood of the car and whipped the milk from his eyes. Jeff tried to plead his case but Lacey wasn’t interested in hearing what he had to say. Jeff became angry after everything he had been through and began to yell at Lacey.
“You know what? I played hockey and then had a few drinks and while I was on my way home, I was abducted by tall beautiful red haired aliens who love to play X-Box, give oral sex and play fantasy sports. They took turns on me and then dumped me on the hood of your car. I don’t have a good explanation for why my cell phone smells like shit and that I have crap under my fingernails… So if you want to tell Marcy that I have fallen off the wagon, so fucking be it. I don’t give a shit right now.”
Jeff received no text messages during the day and after work, he was a bit apprehensive to come home. Upon coming home, Jeff was greeted with a beer and a deep dish pizza. The baby was put to bed early and Lacey stayed up watching the Detroit Red Wings play the San Jose Sharks. Jeff thought that he was being lured into something by Lacey the way male preying mantises lose their heads. Jeff finally asked Lacey why everything seemed upside down. Lacey kissed Jeff’s neck and looked into his eyes while twisting his hair around her index finger.
“I was so turned on by the way you spoke to me this morning. It was so forceful and full of emotion. All I could think about was getting you home tonight… Finish your pizza. Momma’s got some dessert for you. In the other room.”
And they lived happily ever after… The end.

Merry Christmas, Detroit or Take the Homless Skating

December 21, 2010

Tim could hardly be called tiny but the name sort of stuck with Tim since he didn’t hit puberty until late in high school. As the saying goes, Tiny’s nut did not drop until late in adolescence. Tiny or Tim as his mother called him, was short and had a high pitched voice until senior year of high school. It was at that time that Tiny joined the ranks of all the other boys who were becoming men.
Tiny grew up in suburban Detroit and played ice hockey from kindergarten through juniors when he finally came to grips with the fact that he was good and not great and that professional hockey was not going to be his vocation. Tiny went to the University of Michigan, became an accountant, found a job and started a family in Los Angeles before being moved back by his company to suburban Detroit.
Saying that he was born and raised in Detroit was not a source of pride to Tiny. He felt as though he had not really gone very far in life by returning to a town that seemed to have crumbled, decayed and stagnated through the years. Returning to Detroit seemed to be a punishment to Tiny who was squeezed out in the running to climb a rung up the ladder of his company’s firm. Instead his boss gave him a ho-hum review and gave him the choice of losing his job or move to Detroit. Tiny opted to keep his job and move to Detroit.
For anyone that ever had to move from Los Angeles to Detroit and really spent some time in inner city Detroit where neighborhoods gave way to prairie and trees grew through the roofs of abandon homes that were not burned down or decayed to pieces, Detroit could be quite surreal. Tiny was determined to put in his time for his company that was housed in the General Motors Renaissance Center along the banks of the Detroit River in the heart of downtown Detroit. Tiny bought a condominium on Lafayette which was walking distance from the Renaissance Center. He didn’t want his family to get the feeling of permanence. Condominiums seem more transient than single family homes at least Tiny felt this was the case.
Tiny’s wife was sort of indifferent to Detroit being a native Angelino who thought places like Michigan was somewhere on the east coast. It had to be since it was in the Eastern Time zone, right? Susan exercised profusely and shuttled their sons to hockey practice up in Troy, some fifteen miles north of the city to play for Little Caesar’s. Tiny, when he wasn’t working, spent a great deal of his own free time late at night playing men’s league hockey or rat hockey in well to-do towns north and west of Detroit. When Tiny told fellow hockey mates that he lived in 313, most were quite stunned.
It was the night before Christmas Eve that Tiny went with some of his buddies that were Detroit Firemen to play in a fund raising tournament in Windsor, Ontario. Tiny sent his wife Susan alone with their two boys to a holiday tournament outside of Toronto and opted to play hockey himself.
The tournament was uneventful for Tiny. He played defense and had a few assists and allowed a few bad goals to happen by not tying up his man. He had a few push matches in front of his goalie, had a good sweat and then returned with the team to downtown Detroit to finish a night of male bonding; play hockey, drink, watch hockey, drink, gamble and drink some more and then possibly hit a strip club, pass out, return home hung over and be low keyed and a family man on Christmas Eve.
Tiny stood out in front of a downtown watering hole called the Old Shillelagh after watching the Detroit Red Wings play at Joe Louis Arena. A digital display could be seen from the street letting everyone know that only eight two days were left until St. Patrick’s Day or possibly one hundred days left of potential winter weather before the Tigers would return to Comerica Park as a sure sign of summer.
Tiny smoked a large cigar that dangled out of the corner of his mouth like a large phallic symbol. Smoking indoors was only allowed in casinos and so the men stood on Monroe Street smoking, laughing and talking. A disheveled looking black man with rags hanging off of him and leathery exposed hands asked the smoking men if they had any change to spare. The man wouldn’t take no for an answer.
“Its Christmas y’all… Y’ain’t got some spare change so I kin buy me a hamburger and a little water? Come ahn y’all… Find it in y’heart t’help a man who ain’t gotta dime.”
Tiny listened to the man and he thought about how he felt trapped in a Detroit that was so different than the city his father had worked as an assembly line worker for General Motors from the end of World War II until 1984. Tiny’s father retired before he was let go. He outlasted the change that was coming. Tiny’s rant was angry, racist and drunk. Even his fellow hockey mates were surprised by his words even though they may not have disagreed with him.
“This is your fucking Detroit… Since the riots and Coleman Young, you people have done nothing but run this city into the fucking shitter and you hold your hand out and ask people like us to give you more. Well you got the whole fucking city to yourselves. Go ask one of your own to give you some fucking change… I could use a change. Change this town back to a place where people might want to live.”
The man looked at Tiny with a blank stare and then shuffled off into the night. Tiny went back in and had a few more pints of Guinness before deciding to go to his parent’s home rather than go on to play poker at the Greektown Casino and crash at the Greektown Hotel with his teammates. Tiny would have stayed but he needed to let his parent’s dog out at his boyhood home in Warren since his parents were visiting Tiny’s brother and his family in Akron, Ohio.
Tiny blared Van Halen on his fabulous sound system in his Range Rover as he sped north on interstate 75. The thought came to Tiny to piss on the abandon Fisher Body 21 that once made Cadillac limousines. It was symbolic. Tiny needed to piss but he was going to piss on the symbol of what Detroit had become and was mired in. The building stood abandoned with all the windows smashed out of it, covered in graffiti and home to drug addicts and homeless. It was Detroit’s Chernobyl. Snow had begun to gently fall as Tiny took the interstate 94 ramp from interstate 75. Tiny was singing, Hot for Teachers as he took the curve too fast. Tiny couldn’t control the SUV. It hit the guard rail and went right through it. The large vehicle felt weightless as it plummeted over twenty feet and landed nose first on the ground. The car didn’t roll or tip, it stood vertically on end. The airbag deployed and hit Tiny with such force that it broke his nose and cheek bones. Tiny smashed his sternum on the steering wheel and fell in and out of consciousness. Tiny had a dream that he was walking on a sunny day through a field of knee high grass towards the Fisher Body 21 building. It was the 1950’s and the building was strong looking, vibrant and intact. Tiny walked up to the security guard at the entrance who saw him bleeding. The security guard posed a question.
“Say Mack… What in the world happened to you?”
The security guard asked over and over until the voice changed along with the words and the accent. The day was no longer sunny; it was cold, dark and snowy. He could hear a voice posing the same question over and over again.
“Say man… What happened to you? You okay, man? I know you breathin. Kin you hear me?”
Two old homeless black men raced from the fire they had built within the Fisher Body 21 building to see what had happened to the driver of the car that had sailed over the side of the freeway. Tiny gave a faint response. One of the homeless men took off on foot to possibly find a cop or someone with a cell phone that could call for an ambulance. The other homeless man ran back to the building and grabbed a ratty old comforter that he dug out of the garbage. It smelled horrible but it was warm and Tiny began to go into shock. Tiny was aware of the fact that he was seriously hurt and the idea of dying that night was entirely possible. Tiny was scared and began to say out loud that he wanted to live. He had a wife and kids and he hadn’t yet done all the things he set out to do in life. Tiny suddenly regretted that he didn’t spend more time with his wife and kids. He regretted racing through life, doing two things at a time at all times. He regretted being so angry and dissatisfied with life. Tiny sniffled as he listened to a homeless black man that he couldn’t see. All he could feel was a random stranger holding his hand. If he were to die, someone living would witness it. The homeless stranger was no stranger to the loss of life. Jonas had lived through Vietnam and at least a decade on the streets. Jonas quietly tried to reassure Tiny to fight.
“Listen boy… You keep yo eyes open an tell y’self you gone live. You got a wife an kids… That reason nuff to live foh. Yo wife an kids don’t want to be putting yo ass in the goddamn ground on Christmas… Hell naw. She want you to give her some present and y’kids want the same. They want to sit round and eat and talk like people do on dem holidays… Just like Jimmy Stewart,” said Jonas.
Jonas rubbed the top of Tiny’s left hand. Jonas was cold but acclimated to being cold since he lived in the cold. Tiny trembled almost uncontrollably as his teeth chattered.
“You cold, I knows it… Picture walking through a jungle where it so dang hot you kin barely breathe. You got mosquitoes biting on you and you sweat so much at all times. I lived through that in Vietnam foh two years, boy. I sat in the jungle with a young good ole boy from Georgia who hated me foh the color my skin an when the time come an he was tremblin from shock ah been shot, he held mah hand an thanked me foh being wid him… He died an I felt bad. I felt real bad cause I nevah toll him to fight. I jus listen to him an he needed t’hear me tell em to fight foh his life… I’m telling you, boy. Fight foh yo life. Fight foh yo family… You don’t give up, boy. You keep treading water cause the lifeguard coming.”
Tiny fought hard to stay awake. He thought about all the things he wanted to do and say to people that meant so much to him. After a while he could hear sirens getting closer and closer. The voice ceased speaking to him and his left hand grew cold. Tiny passed out and came to in the hospital surrounded by his entire family and a television news crew.
Every year since the accident on the day before Christmas Eve, Tiny and his hockey teammates rent out the Old Shillelagh and Campus Martius ice rink. Homeless people from all over Detroit come to get a free meal of corned beef and cabbage and then ice skate for free at Campus Martius, which has an outdoor rink. Homeless men and women put aside their woes and demons for a few hours as they shuffled across the ice to the sounds of Bing Crosby’s White Christmas. It may seem like a bizarre thing to take the homeless ice skating but none of them minded. In fact every year the homeless look forward to a day of dignity. Tiny served food at the restaurant and tied skates at the ice rink. He no longer raced around in traffic and cut people off. He did not let insignificant things ruin his days either. Tiny spent time with his family and took time to appreciate and grasp that every moment of life was life itself. Tiny took the time to take life in instead of letting it race past him. Almost dying will put life in true perspective.
Tiny was offered a lateral move with his company back to Los Angeles and he declined. When asked why, he answered; I am Detroit, Detroit is me.

I Love You, Dude or The Hockey Marriage

December 5, 2010

The Ronnies are what Ron Taylor and Ron Fitzgibbons were called by everyone from grade school on who knew the two best friends. The Ronnies spent nights at each other’s house as little boys and played on the same hockey teams all the way through high school. They were voted the most likely to go Columbine on their own high school by their classmates.
Ron T. never finished college. He was a freshman for four years at a junior college and was fortunate to pass the drug test that UPS gave him before he got a job loading panel trucks in the middle of the night. Ron T. sort of liked his job. It was mindless and secure.
Ron F. sold beer in the summers at Wrigley Field which was sort of funny since he hated the Cubs and thought baseball in general was sort of an out dated sport. Most of the year he worked for a Korean man who owned an independent video store. In the store on the shelves were the entire first rate Hollywood blockbusters like Iron Man 9, Spiderman 7, and The Flintstones meet Yogi Bear at the Phantom Ranch with The Globetrotters and Scooby Doo and so on. Behind a wall of the store was the world of debauchery that 90% of the customers came in for but even those customers were getting most of their stuff off the internet. Ron F. was able to talk his boss into buying the Center Ice package so that he could watch all the NHL games from work during the baseball off season. And so between selling and renting DVDs to lonely men, Ron T. would sit behind the counter, glued to any number of NHL games.
Ron T. and Ron F. would play ice hockey every morning somewhere around the city of Chicago. Sometimes it was at Johnny’s Ice House on Madison Avenue, some times Mc Fetridge on the north side of the city, sometimes Franklin Park by O’Hare and so on. Usually the boys played everyday except Saturdays. Saturday nights were reserved for going out to clubs to try and find love for the night with any women that would have them.
Both Ronnies played juniors for a few years after high school and then hung it up when they realized that being third liners on a junior B team in the middle of nowhere, was a sign that they were not going to be scouted by the NHL. They both came back to Chicago and became men’s league all-stars. Any night of the week, they could both find a late night game with a team that needed a player and usually they did that in addition to playing pick up hockey each morning. Days went as follows: Ron F. picks up Ron T. after he takes a quick nap after work. They hit the 7-11 to get a Monster energy drink and donuts though most recently; Ron T. began to grow up a bit at 28 years age and began to drink coffee. The clerk whom they called Habib yelled at the Ronnies almost daily for making a mess. They would then show up at a rink early and watch whatever was on television which was usually The View. They would criticize the women and guests without listening to anything they were talking about while putting tape on their sticks and checking the blades of their skates for nicks.
“Dude… That one dude from Cheers was fucking Whoopie Goldberg until he found out she was a fucking bull dyke and was fucking around with Ellen degenerate…” said Ron F. in his pseudo surfer boy/burnout voice that he still maintained from high school.
“That’s fucking bullshit, dude. They just fucking broke up. She’s as ugly as your asshole but she ain’t a dyke. She’s fucking old and knows that she’s not fuckable anymore. Most white dudes wanna fuck a black chick like Beyonce. When they can’t, they go home and beat a woman that looks like Whoopie.” Said Ron T. while taping his $200.00 Easton one piece stick with 5.5 lie and a slight heel curve.
“Fuck it, dude. I hope we get two goalies. I don’t care if it’s a fucking St. Bernard or your fucking mother just as long as we have something to shoot at,” said Ron F.
In the pick up games, the Ronnies always wore the same color. It was a gray which was not white and not dark. On the front was the name of one of their men’s league teams that they had pledge alliance to called The Pigs. Their jerseys said in big letters, “The Pigs” and underneath that was a pig with a flat top hair cut holding a hockey stick in one hand and his penis in the other. At the age of twenty eight, the Ronnies thought that was still hilarious.
Ron T. was the passer and Ron F. was the scorer. Ron T. was geared towards being defensive and Ron F. was most concerned with scoring and so they worked well together. One day Ron T. took a slap shot from the blue line. It rode up the blade of someone’s stick and took out six of Ron F.’s front teeth. The teeth exploded and left shards of porcelain throughout Ron F.’s mouth. The Ronnies were sent to Cook County Hospital where they sat for close to six hours because Ron F. did not have health insurance and after six hours the duo grew tired of waiting for the free health care and went home. The bleeding had stopped but Ron Fitzgibbon’s mouth was a mess as was his swollen face.
The cost to replace the three upper and three lower teeth for Ron F. was going to be over $10,000.00. There was no way either of the boys had that sort of money. Luckily for the boys, there was a way and a loop hole. Since civil marriages between men and men and women and women were going to be legal in Illinois, Ron F. popped the question to Ron T.
“Look man, you hit me in the fucking mouth. I can’t talk or even smile cause I look like a fucking golf ball went through my fucking teeth. We get this thing done and I get my fucking teeth fixed after you can claim me on your insurance and then we get a divorce or annulment or whatever it is you need so that you can still get married in a Catholic Church when you find the right person,” said Ron F.
“Are you fucking cracked?! You want me to marry you so you can get insurance?! I’m not fucking doing it, dude. I’ll find a way to get the $10,000.00,” said Ron T.
“What the fuck do you care? Being a fag is in style now, dude. Nobody is going to say shit. They’ll say those two dudes got married. Who the fuck cares anymore? Fucking Magic Johnson got AIDS, got rid of it and got fat and nobody cares that he’s probably fucking dudes. We don’t gotta have a party and invite friends. We just do this and I get my shit fixed and then we get this shit undone. I think you owe me this much, fucker…” said Ron F.
Ron T. thought about the idea and decided it was the fairest thing he could do considering he was the reason his friend was missing a mouthful of teeth. Both Ronnies were too manly to wear a cage or a visor on their helmets. They grew up idolizing Chris Chelios and Tony Amonte from the Chicago Blackhawks and decided after high school that they would never use facial protection again. Both received a few stitches here and there as well as a black eye now and then but never a need for a dental overhaul.
Ron F. did all the leg work. He got the marriage license and filed all the paper work so that on the first day of legal same sex unions, he could get legally married to Ron T. so that he could then add him to his insurance and get Ron F.’s teeth fixed.
The spring day happened and both men dressed in dark suits nervously sat waiting for their chance to approach the judge as they looked at honest to goodness same sex couples that were ecstatic that their day had finally arrived. An older white man with a close kept gray beard and a young black man, young enough to be his son, held hands, giggled and snuck kisses as they sat next to the Ronnies who looked more like they were going to jail than to be united in matrimonial bliss. The flamboyant young black man asked the Ronnies if they had plans to go on a honeymoon to celebrate. Ron F. was disgusted and gave the most deranged answer he could muster.
“I got a can of fucking Crisco, a gerbil and some PVC in the trunk of the car. My fiance lost a bet we had on who would win Dancing with the Stars and so he will be the happy recipient of the rodent at the closest fuck palace we can find near this place. We don’t have the time for Cancun…” said Ron F.
The two Ronnies looked somber and embarrassed as they said their vows in front of the judge. When the ceremony concluded, they hugged each other like two Soviet era diplomats and then walked out without any further contact. They emerged from the court house with cameras and microphones in their face. Ron T. was ready to just run on foot but Ron F. punched a camera man in the face who put the camera too close to him. For that he landed in jail and in the paper and it soon became known to all who ever knew the two Ronnies that they were joined together in matrimony. Some were genuinely surprised but most who remembered the inseparable pair said that they knew it all along.
If you go to open hockey some morning somewhere in Chicago, you may run into the Ronnies. Don’t mention the marriage if you can help it. It makes them both angry. They most likely will be wearing Pig jerseys. And full metal cages.