I always sucked at sports as a kid. My dad told me so at around age 16... which is why I don't set unreachable standards for Le O-Dog to meet. Every time I throw him on the ice, I tune out all the screaming idiot parents, yelling "Shoot!" or "Skate!" to their youngster every time they near the puck. I'm content in watching my boy learn to skate, have fun and keep his *ss off the couch.
Every once in a while, he does something to make me particularly proud.
O-Dog: That kid hit me on purpose.
Prego: Make sure you've got the right number, and go give him a quick glove on his face.
The O-Dog spent the last two minutes of the game chasing this little thug around the rink. He never got him, but he had a smile on his face the whole time.
This past weekend, the O-Dog gave me another "Proud Pop" moment. Anybody who's watched 5-8 year olds play hockey knows it is at times a big clumsy cluster of bodies chasing the puck. I watched as another little guy careened into my O-Dog, sending him to the ice. He falls often, so I didn't give it a second thought... until I clearly saw tears streaming down his face.
I tapped on the glass to try to get his attention, feeling helpless that I couldn't get to him. O-Dog kept skating around. He finally got his coach's attention, pointing to his helmet and getting sent to the bench.
I kept thinking to myself, "Please get back out there..." thinking he might have been too scared to continue.
Four minutes later, the O-Dog is back on the ice for the next shift.
I asked him after the game, "O-Dog, I saw you were crying."
"Yeah. I hit my head."
"You kept skating, though. That was good. What were you doing?"
"I was going after the puck. My team only had one goal and the other team had like a thousand."
All of a sudden, I had visions of Ron Francis, stumbling & crawling on his hands and knees across the ice after a Scott Stevens hit, demonstrating cobbles the size of bowling balls. Regardless of what 'pain' he might have been in, his resolve never lapsed.
"I love you, Odie."
(Puzzled look) "I love you, too, daddy."
Les Putains find themselves in the Conference Semi-Finals again... (Afinogenov just made the score 2-1 as I write this. Yes!)
I find that I turn into quite the idiot this time of year. Ordinarily, I'm a pretty grounded individual, however, playoff hockey turns me into a bundle of nerves. The emotional peaks and valleys are dizzying, and I frequently wonder why I do this to myself. Then I see video clips like this -- a vintage Theo Fleury goal and the spontaneous celebration that still makes my glass eye fog over:
What's it got to do with me? Not a goddamned thing, yet I find myself sporting this ungodly and uncomfortable mess on my face. When I was a kid, I'd watch the Sabres of yore grow these "playoff beards" once their teams entered the post-season. Once Les Putains entered the playoffs, I began to grow this follicular talisman on my puss, as if it's really going to do them any good. From what I see around town, I can at least find some comfort in knowing I'm not the only dumb-ass.
Last year, I stuck to the same brand of beer (Blue Moon) & watched all the games with the same person (my neighbor).
Think of the horror, when my brother threw off our mojo when he showed up with his fiancée and a 12 pack of Saranac. My neighbor and I looked at each other with apprehension as our unexpected guests came in. 'What's the worst that can happen, after all?'
The death knell tolled when our doorbell rang again. My neighbor's father came to join us for the third period and the Sabres subsequently shat themselves out of Cup contention. I don't think my neighbor talked to his father for about a week. I was a little more forgiving and talked to my brother after a couple of days.
This year's taken a different tone. My neighbor is away at college I haven't been pounding the brews -- bedtime is testy enough, without being half in the bag.
(Lydman ties the score at 2! Hecks yeah!)
My juju instead has been these cookies from local dessertery Sweet Tooth:
(The two humping buffaloes at the top of the picture are inadvertent, by the way)
I don't expect a good game from Jochen Hecht, since
a) Fletchmonster dropped the cookie after a couple of bites and
b) the dog ate the lions share of it off the kitchen table.
Incidentally, Hecht is nursing a groin injury and just took a sh*tty cross-checking penalty.
Anyway, I've been watching the bulk of the games alone, prepared to kick anybody out of the house if things ain't going our way... especially my friend Skip. When he and I get together for important games... Sh*t. It's like throwing a hat on Bob Hughes's bed.
Tonight I asked Mrs. P to pick up a sixer of Blue Moon for old time's sake. It may or may not work... Actually, I'm thinking of switching to Magic Hat's #9.
Another couple weeks of facial hair and its accompanying discomfort is a small price to pay to be part of what might hopefully be a Stanley Cup season. Sh*t. I've been relishing these moments for thirty years. And as irreligious as I am, I'm playing all my cards.
You don't know how desperate I am. I'm willing to give the Dalai Lama a reach around if it'll get us past the Ottawa series.
The Wh*res shat themselves tonight 5-2. Series is 1-0 Ottawa.
Note to self: Ixnay the No. 9 swill. Get Dalai Lama's number.