Don’t Drink and Cheer for the Leafs

Canada is truly hockey-mad. Hockey has made us insane. What we witness on Nationally broadcast, publicly funded airwaves, fights, and rock em sock em hockey, would be seen as assault and battery on any other channel, and in Todd Bertuzzi’s case, attempted murder, but, when it’s on ice, we call it, “hockey”. Assaults that would net three to five years in jail, get five minutes in the box. That’ll teach them.

I think we like hockey cause it is the one time you can bump into someone and not have to say, “sorry.” We say sorry when the other person bumps into us. I think we should get rid of, “O, Canada” as the national anthem, and replace it with, “O, Sorry,” and just get it out of the way, so, we could stop saying, “I’m sorry” 100 times a day.

I never caught this fever for winter’s official national sport. As a kid, I only loved baseball, and falling in love with hockey just seemed like cheating on baseball. Many people had a hard time accepting a kid like me, a boy who loves sports, but not hockey.

But, it was Mark Fountain’s dad that had the hardest time with it. I was staying over, Saturday night at Mark’s house, and we were sitting around, watching the Leafs lose, and I was obviously disinterested in the game and Mr. Fountain looks over and asks: “Not a Leaf fan?”

“I don’t like hockey.” I inform him.

Mr. Fountain looked at me like I’d just confessed to shooting the Pope. He spilled beer all over his lap, but he was more concerned with what I had said than with the spilt beer on his pants. “What do you mean, you don’t like hockey? You like sports, don’tcha?”

“I just don’t like hockey.”

Now, I think the discussion is over at that point, not knowing how much I had affected Mark’s dad. I guess Mr. Fountain sat there drinking and thinking, drinking and thinking all night, cause, the next thing I know it’s two-thirty in the morning and Mr. Fountain is shaking me awake, asking, “What do you mean, you don’t like hockey?” Like we were right in the middle of the conversation and I hadn’t been sleeping in my Star Wars pjs. Mr. Fountain keeps shaking me, telling me,”Now, come down stairs, there’s some pizza and a contract for you to sign for you to start playing hockey tomorrow morning with Mark. Mark! Get up, and bring your crazy little friend down stairs, got pizza.”

I really didn’t mind. Mr. Fountain was aggressive, but hardly threatening. And the pizza was yummy, and I was up eating it way past my bedtime; this was by far the latest I had ever stayed up in my entire eight year old life, so, Mr. Fountain, if you are reading this now, I am not insulting you, I really had a great night eating that pizza. I appreciate how important you thought it was for me to play our National Game, that’s why you are the hero of the story, my favourite example of how Canada’s love for hockey has affected me.

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