Thursday, November 17, 2005

My First

They say you never forget your first time. It is a memory that will always be with you, no matter how good it is or bad it is. I am here to tell you, they’re right, the gits. I can remember that night like it was just moments ago rather than several years.

Why am I thinking about this? Does it have something to do with my seasonal affective disorder acting up? Or is it because the first real cold front of the year has finally made it down (all the way from Canada, eh?) and there is hockey to be watched? Nah, it really has nothing to do with that. I was digging around in the garage the other night and I found what I refer to as my “box of stuff for framing and hanging.” There sitting in the top of the box was a red plastic reminder of that night.

I brought the puck up to my desk and have been fiddling with it the last couple of nights as I tried to find something to write about. I keep looking at the stack of books I have read and have yet to write reviews on, but I am feeling very ambivalent about getting that done. I have a response to my friend Jack’s post about sports formulating in the back of my head, but I have not been satisfied with any of the drafts I have done. I need to post something witty about my brother getting engaged to a girl who is not quite 17” shorter than me (do not fear, little villager, for I am not wrathful). I have a pile of movies to re-watch and review so I can submit some sample reviews to, but I suspect I have missed that particular boat. Not feeling very motivated about that. I have a couple of other surprises in store for you, including adding a weekly comics column to my blog and writing about my man-crush. I am just not motivated and I am concerned that I am coming dangerously close to posting the cat with all of the recent update entries. You guys are either here for the goddamn funny or here to see how James has embarrassed himself in the last 32 years. Nothing is working out on the writing front, but this bright red puck is just sitting on my desk. It taunts me. In the words of the immortal Ricardo Montalban, “He tasks me.

I stare at the puck.

He stares back.

I try to ignore the puck.

He just sits there, always sitting there, a presence in my mind, almost tangible.

“Fine!” I say, getting out of bed, “I’ll write about you. Will that make you feel better?”

He sits there, staring.

The only reason I scored that goal is because I was WAY out of position. I am usually a defensive defenseman who does not go much deeper into the offensive zone than say, the blue line. Upon reflection this is perhaps the worst position I could play, since I cannot make the transition between skating forwards and backwards, and I do not have a shot, at all, two basic skills a defenseman should have down pat. Somehow I manage to make it work. This was either the second or third season I played with Red Dog. Red Dog was my very first hockey team and I have some really fond memories of the team and the guys I played with. They were a really good group of guys that carried me for a couple of seasons until I was able to contribute. Our first season we SUCKED. We lost every game, but only by one goal, including a game where we scored four times in the last two minutes of the game to lose by one goal.

In this case I got caught on the rush and then once we lost control of the puck, several of the guys went for a line change. Rather than move back to our zone, like I should have, I decided to aggressively forecheck and attack the puck. The opposing defender and goalie had some sort of miscommunication which left the puck just sitting, absolutely still, in front of the goal and a little to the goaltenders left. A perfect opportunity. The defender had headed around the back of the net, so he was not going to be able to get back to me in time. Al I had to do was get it past the goalie who was out of position. I felt the puck on my stick, the familiar drag as it moved across the SportCourt. I pulled the puck a little forward and then flicked my wrists, trying to put a little stank on it and bury the biscuit before the goalie could recover. Time stood still for a second and then I was cruising around the back of the net, looking down at the puck as it bounced off the netting and clattered back to the blue surface. My arms shot up in celebration as Topher (the ref) blew the whistle and pointed to the net. I scored. I got a goal. I FUCKING SCORED!

I got back to the bench and endured the congratulations of my teammates and the Topher skated over and handed me the puck. “I’m not supposed to let you keep this, you know,” he said as he handed it over and skated away. Topher. What a guy. I think he let me keep the puck because we were cut from the same cloth when it came to hockey. We were both big guys. Defensemen who didn’t really have the skills for the position, but we made it work. He knew what that goal meant to me because he knew what his first goal meant to him.

I kept that puck in my hockey bag for years, and now it is sitting on my desk. Hopefully silent now that his tale has been shared.

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