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.










Eagle River

February 9, 2016

I was asked by a friend if I wanted to participate in an outdoor tournament in the northern town of Eagle River, Wisconsin.  The trip took over eight hours for us to arrive at the rental home which was being occupied by two teams of 14 players.

If you don’t mind the cold and really poor ice conditions, it is ice hockey unlike what you’re used to indoors.  You dress like a mite at home, park several blocks away and are picked up by locals with open bed trucks.  You jump on the back of the open air transport and marvel at the dense spruce forest around you.  In the clearing is a lake where dozens of snow banked rinks are sectioned off for matches.  You look for a bench to slip your skates on out in the open.  You slip on a jersey with the name of your weekend team.   Female teams tended to name their teams after their female parts and many male teams had various plays on words related to male genitalia.  Others had sponsors or just cute names.  I played for a team called the Elsinore Hosers which was taken from the 1980’s movie called Strange Brew.  The housemates from the other team, took on nicknames from the movie, The Big Lebowski- The Jesus, Donny, Walter, The Dude and so on.

You get on the ice and have a net that is three feet wide and about a foot high.  No slapshots, no high passes, no checking or other infractions.  Four players where one sort of has to play goalie and then you have variations of a triangle formation.  Firing the puck often is key.  Our team adapted to the conditions of the ice and weather and won our first two games.  We then went on to lose our next two which were good, close scoring games.  What do you do when you’re not playing?  Walk around in half your gear making conversation with people from all over the country while drinking donated beer from Labatt’s.  If you haven’t had enough hockey, there is a local team with an antique barn of a rink that holds about 2,000.  We watched Eagle River play Fond du Lac.  Some sloppy play, some solid play, some fights and some idiocy in the crowd.  Some tool from Ohio who played in drag the entire weekend put on a show at the minor league game.  This over served player, hung from the scorer’s booth which was some twenty feet in the air.  After swinging back and forth for a minute, his fingers gave way and landed back first onto a patron.  There was an over abundance of men who needed chaperones- moms or wives.  Maybe they were once frat boys and maybe they never experienced that sort of fraternal bonding upon gaining adulthood.  Cheap beer and fraternizing with fellow lovers of the sport of ice hockey on the eve of the Super Bowl is what you would have found in Eagle River last weekend.  If you love the sport, respect the sport and enjoy the sport more than most things in life, a pond hockey tournament should be Mecca for those who hold ice hockey in high regard.

The photo was taken at sunset Saturday night after two games in the tournament.  We went to our own backyard behind our rental home and played amongst ourselves.  Hosers against The Puck Abides until the sun set over the forest.  It was worth the time and effort for me.

eagle river

The Spryzsaks… The Unique Hockey Family

September 30, 2015

You might expect to hear a story about a family of hockey players that made it to the show and for that reason they are worthy of mention.  One of them could have made it but for several different reasons it did not happen.  I mention them because among hockey families, they were truly unique.

Ice hockey, for the most part is one of the last bastions of whiteness in North America.  It requires money and dedication by parents to get kids to the rink, pay for clinics, teams and equipment.  The sport becomes your hobby even if you don’t play.  When you’re hauling children around to games and practices, there is very little else left for you to do except work or sleep.

I met John, the father when my son decided to take up the sport at the age of five.  John was one of the Sunday morning, beginner instructors that helped with the little mites.  When my son became proficient enough, he was put on a team.  In his first game, my son played against John’s son Tim.  John’s son looked like a chubby Asian child of Japanese or Korean lineage.  The boy looked nothing like his dad but every bit his mother’s son.  Tim was their youngest son’s name and if ever there was a kid perfect for the sport of ice hockey, it was this child.  He had legs like a running back and trying to catch him with the puck was like trying to catch a rabbit in your backyard.  Tim could stickhandle at the age of six, hit perfect passes on the tape and shoot a wrist shot.  Tim got bored with scoring and would just set up other players as a mite.  While other kids tottered around like old people at a senior’s dance, Tim breezed around the ice with ease.

John approached me years later and asked if I would like to coach with him.  John was notorious in that he said whatever came to mind.  If he thought you were an asshole, he wouldn’t hold back.  A woman once walked into the local pro shop and rubbed her elbow against John’s shoulder as he philosophized and loitered.  The woman knew John and coyly set herself up for a put down when she stated that “I have a question for you”.  John moved his body away from her, looked her in the face and said, “I have the answer…  If our species relied on the two of us getting together, we’d become extinct.”  The woman walked out embarrassed and miffed.  John went right on talking.

John Jr.  or just Junior, was a year older than Tim.  Everything that Junior was able to do, came through hard work.  Junior was an intelligent smart ass that wore his straight black hair down to the middle of his back.  He looked like Indian princess and was called such in a game in Toronto.  Right of the face off of the 1st period of a game, Junior crossed checked across the cage and sat for five minutes because he was teased about his long hair.  He later went to the locker room of a team from London, Ontario and invited each and every one of them to come out and fight him.  Junior told the border guard at Windsor that he was being kidnapped by the white man driving as a joke and nearly landed John in jail.  Junior dipped people’s water bottles in the commode when they were dicks.  As a midget of seventeen years of age, he came to the rink to watch me coach a bunch of mites early on a Sunday morning.  When I asked why he was there, he told me he had been up all night and decided to watch the little ones play.  It was heart warming to see this jaded young man who hated the world, show up to watch a random mite game and tell the little ones that they did well.  John grew to be my friend and some times I think I was his only friend.  His sons felt like my sons and we all had a connection through the love of the game.

A youth hockey organization was giving consideration to letting John be the head coach of their midget team but asked me if I would be his assistant and help rein him in when necessary.  I said I would.  The hockey director of the organization was the son of a general manager of an NHL franchise which had floundered for years.  Before I had a chance to tell John that I had talked the club into giving him a chance to coach, I saw him standing over two men on the board of directors that he had great disdain for.  As John walked up the bleachers to watch an informal pre-season scrimmage that Tim and Junior were a part of as well as my own son, John stared down the two men on the board that he disliked and then posed a rhetorical question- What the fuck are you looking at?  I tried to pull John away but he wasn’t budging.  He wanted to get his point across and so he did.

“Boards are for people like you two fucking pansies to provide a place for your kids to play.  Take a good look on the ice…  Who do you think the two fucking worst skaters are out there?  I’ll clue you both in….  Your son and your fucking son too.  Now who are the best?  That would be my sons and his son.  Now you went out and spent a butt load of money to have the son of the worst general manager in the history of the NHL to do for you what his dad has been doing for years which has been dick.  Speaking of dick, I’d like to take you two fairies out in the parking lot and smack you around until you cry but you being lawyers and all, I think I might wind up in jail, right?  I mean you wouldn’t want to be a man about this all and tell me to shut the fuck up and invite me to go out to the parking lot to settle this like men, right?  No that would take a nut sack which neither of you has  between you…  You don’t want me to coach here?  Fuck you and fuck you and fuck the son of Sam out there who will gladly take your dough.”

I waited until John calmed down a moment and then broke the news to him.  “You were the head coach of the midget team for a full twenty minutes before you verbally accosted the two men who agreed to give you the job.”

John for the first time ever that I can remember, did not say a word.  I went on to tell him how I sold the board on how well you would work with older kids.  John thanked me and walked out.  If you ever met John, Junior or Tim, you would agree that the three of them love the sport, play the sport and really understand the sport and keep hockey from being too predictable.  If you ever have an hour of your life to donate, we can have a beer with them.  You would not be disappointed.

Goalies… Say No More

September 9, 2015

I don’t know much about soccer or water polo but I do know more than the average Joseph when it comes to ice hockey. With that said, I’m not sure how strange goalies are in other sports that require goalies but in ice hockey they are all a bit different.

Some of it is just unique quirkiness and others are just plain strange individuals. Strange like body parts in the subzero freezer in their mom’s basement.

I almost always play defense and so I never take the beating some guys relish when they’re camped out in front of the net. Bruised kidneys, pissing blood and slashes all over the back side of their bodies. That sort of thing was never for me. One day, I was forced to play center and camped out in front of the net. The goalie from the opposing team took his stick and speared me between two ribs. The pain took my breath away. I promised the goalie I would get him back before the game was over. It took thought and creativity to hurt a goalie that is dressed like a bomb diffuser. The thought came to me- wait until the play goes towards our end and the referees are following the play out of the zone. I lagged back behind the net and waited until the goalie was far enough out away from the crease for me to swing my stick like a baseball bat against his exposed calves. I hit the goalie so hard that I nearly broke my stick. The goalie looked like he was levitating in the air. He landed flat on his back. I skated to center ice and stood by the referee. The goalie charged across the ice to attack me. I asked the referee if there was a delayed penalty called and maybe that was the reason why the goalie was skating over to center ice. The referee was perplexed. I bent down as if trying to catch my breath and held the blade of my stick like a bayonet to stop the charging goalie. The goalie was thrown out of the game. The other team lost. They were mad at me and the referees. I told them all that they should have been angry at their goalie.

Doc is a goalie of about fifty years of age that is a psychiatrist that deals with mental patients at a prison. He dresses across from another goalie who by the name of Tom who is a homicide detective. Tom feigns vomiting before every game. I think he gags until he drools and then thinks of something sick like eating out a morbidly obese woman who crapped in his mouth while tongue bathing the plump beauty who smelled of seafood gone bad and skunk. I know that would make me want to hurl and so with Tom’s mind, he made himself gag and drool over a garbage can a la Glenn Hall circa 1960. Tom and Doc would exchange stories of strange of dismembered bodies, severe beatings, incest, rapes, stabbings, and shootings and so on without so much as a wince.

“So I’m taking the elevator up to an apartment and some schmoe is got a huge brown plastic bag on a dolly. He’s picking his nose and staring at the digital display. It smelled like spoiled milk in the elevator and I see blood dripping from this huge bag. I ask the guy what was in the bag and he casually tells me that it was his old lady. She died after he became displeased with her choice of words and tone of voice. This stroke was just going to take her to the dumpster and then cook up a little pasta. I told him that we would need to take a little peek in the bag. Sure enough, her skull was crushed like a rotten pumpkin. Eyes coming out of the sockets, brains dripping out. The smell of her decomposing was displeasing him so he thought he might drag her out to the dumpster.”

Now Jerry had a receding hairline and made his own jewelry that he sold at Metal concerts when he wasn’t playing goalie. He gave himself the name “Punisher”. He played guitar in a band that was polished but never played out. He wore a New Jersey Devils jersey with the name Satan on the back with the numbers 666. He made a spider web like device out of rope between his legs and under his arms so on a breakaway, he would drop his stick, raise his arms and spread his legs and challenge the shooter to find a gap. Refs said it was illegal but none of them could find anything about it in the rules so they let him wear his stupid creation. Jerry had a smoking hot black girlfriend who supported him so that he could concentrate on his hockey career. His band mate was also a goalie with died black hair, a guitarist too that was covered in tattoos. He would say something and then start speaking Greek. He took a lot of drugs and drank a lot of heavy booze, claimed he was a black belt in some sort of martial arts and had a Greek folk band with his wife who supported him and got them gigs. She played the accordion and he played an instrument that was a Greek guitar called a Bizooki. I’m sure it’s spelled differently in Cyrillic.   They made a bondage video to one of their Metal tunes where by a fit hockey player among us, was beat with a crop by a hot bodied woman wearing an old time goalie mask like Jason. The fit man spun on a wheel in a circle wearing nothing but a jock and his hockey gloves. The video and song was supposedly big in Japan. The name of their band? Hexx-tal. Only a goalie would come up with that name.

The most amusing goalie I ever played with was also the most talented goalie I ever played with. He was a six foot five inch black man with a clef lip who made a living as a cab driver. When he would pick people up from the airport, he would turn away anyone that needed to use his trunk. The trunk housed his goalie gear that never aired out. It was water logged and smelled like cat urine in a humid greenhouse. Among bad smells, his shit was the most pungent of us all. Jim slept in his cab with his dog that stayed in the front seat at all times with him. Jim played on several teams and had a game every night. In exchange for playing, Jim would ask a team to buy him something he needed such as a half dozen goalie sticks, a new paint job for his helmet or a new catcher. Jim was in high demand. He was arrested at a game after fighting with an opposing team’s goalie and removing every article of gear on the way to the locker room down to his skates. At the door of the locker room, he let his cock and balls do the windmill for the wives and girlfriends that came to watch their men play a recreational game of ice hockey. That landed him in jail for the night.

I once played a men’s league game with this goalie. We had a summer league final game where only five skaters showed up and Jim. Jim wasn’t worried. He kept telling the guys to pass back to him so he could make a few moves and break it out to someone going back door. We won the game 6-4. Jim had an assist on every goal except one. The final goal was an empty net goal. I grabbed the puck in the neutral zone as six attackers chased me around. I fired a hard pass to Jim who was at the top of the left circle in our zone and he lofted a wrist shot over the heads of everyone and we watched it perfectly drop in front of the crease for an empty net goal by the goalie. I got the assist.

Dirty Joe Sanchez

September 4, 2015

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Rocky Horror Hockey Show

September 2, 2015

The first time I can remember skating with Corey, he was just out of high school and he was coming to the daily Monday through Friday drop-in, shinny, rat hockey whatever you call it from wherever you are. He was a cartoon character of a player who would yell crazy stuff when he scored and as a lefty it was usually on the left side, just inside the blue line, about three to seven feet high. Corey didn’t believe in defense. He would usually circle in the neutral zone and yell for the bomb, step across the blue line and fire a slap shot. What made Cory worthy of mention was that he went away to juniors, got juiced up on steroids, got cut from juniors, came home and wanted to fight everyone.

His first run in was at his former high school’s hockey game. He sat in the bleachers drinking a forty ounce out of a paper bag and harassed spectators from the opposing team and players alike. Of course someone called the police. Who happened to come out to answer the call? Another morning hockey player who was not very good and brought his mentally challenged son who was in his twenties to sit in the penalty box and eat bagels and color a book while wearing a Jofa Helmet. Occasionally Junior would get up and wander off and his dad would yell at him. I felt bad for Junior. He didn’t want to be at a cold ice rink watching something he didn’t understand. I came to learn it was Officer Paul’s stepson and that he really didn’t like him. I always thought Paul was an asshole. His stupid comment about his retarded stepson solidified my feelings about Paul.

Paul walked up the bleachers and grabbed Corey by the lapel of a seventies era silk shirt, walked him to the door and sprayed mace on his face. It got into his eyes and nose. Corey was a mess. Paul tripped Corey face down in the snow and told him to go home before he had him arrested for underage drinking, disturbing the peace and being drunk and disorderly. That following Monday morning, Corey came into the rink with bugged eyes like he had an infection or an allergy. Paul looked Corey and smiled. Corey looked at Paul and said, “Fuck you, man. That fucking hurt. What was that shit you sprayed on me?”

Anyone with average intelligence could have surmised that it was mace. It was a mystery to Corey. Corey was the epitome of a male dumb blond- good looking, in good shape, handsome and intelligent the way Forest Gump was intelligent.

So one morning Corey decided to pick a fight with an older guy who had made it as far as the AHL. He played a few years for the Milwaukee Admirals. He was short and Greek with a wide nose that had been broken several times. He had scars all over his face, was bowl legged and had great hands, great ability to elude people with his hands, a quick wrist shot and great eye to hit the right pass. He was a pretty complete player. For some reason, Corey decided that if he could pick a fight and beat the Greek, he would then be better than him. Corey, even if he could have beaten the Greek up, he still wouldn’t be half as good as him.

“Let’s go, old man. I’ll fucking waste you.”

Corey stood a few inches higher, was twenty five years younger, full of muscles and speed for fighting. The Greek quietly asked Corey if he really wanted to fight.

“Yeah you old fucking bitch. I’ll fuck you up.”

The Greek dropped his stick and gloves and removed his helmet slowly with two hands and then did a quick two handed basketball pass at Corey’s face. Corey’s face popped like a tomato. Blood was in Corey’s eyes and running down his face. He was trying hard not to freak out by all the blood. The Greek skated over and put his arm around Corey in a fatherly manner and softly said, “Son… I’d go get that taken care of now.”

A guy named Joe, a beginner player was horrified by the affair and offered to take Corey to the hospital. The car ride to the hospital by Joe of Corey was the beginning of a long and tumultuous relationship. The Story of Corey and Joe is next.

Half Families, Ice Hockey and Wonderpets

March 3, 2015

Every couple, every family has that thing that puts them over the edge. For Coach Monahan and his wife Lynn, the team manager of the squirt house league ice Devils hockey team was a bacon cheeseburger on a pretzel bun.

It would be too simplistic to blame the burger. Of course it was the overbearing, unrealistic parents with stopwatches and whining about “balanced ice time” and the problem of living life in America. Lynn would approach her husband about parental concerns while Coach Monahan would watch NHL highlights late night after their kids went to bed, long after practices and games.

“J wants to know why his son J jr. never gets to play on the power play or penalty kill and why it is that when there are faceoffs in our zone, you pull his line off the ice.”

Monahan looked over at his wife who was monitoring the mundane lives of Facebook friends and catching up on email beside him on the couch. She would rather be watching Kardashians but would let Monahan watch hockey highlights. Monahan got a free pass for going to watch 50 Shades of Gray instead of staying home to watch the Detroit Red Wings play the San Jose Sharks in real-time. Monahan taped it instead. 50 Shades seemed improbable and too Harlequin to be real for Monahan but he was a trooper and for that reason, Lynn was a trooper right back. She did have to ask her husband the coach how she the team manager should answer a group question copied to the whole team. Monahan answered Lynn.

“Junior is twenty to thirty pounds too heavy. J who knows nothing about the fucking sport of ice hockey and should be happy that his little butterball gets as much equitable ice time as I can afford without giving the game away because his little liability is huffing and puffing like a middle-aged man making love… Ask J why it was that he didn’t have the nutsack to ask me these questions tonight when he was standing over me while I tied my skates to get on the fucking ice. He talked about how cold it was outside and how much his kid is learning from me and then goes home and poses questions he could have asked me in person. Ask why it is that he needs an open forum to ask a question that he knows the answer to- his kid is fat, slow and ineffective and uninspired to move his fat ass to the best of his ability. Video games and high fructose drinks have caused him to develop tits and love handles at a young age. When the boy smiles, his eyes disappear… Am I going to fast, dear?”

Lynn did not answer Monahan. Instead she wrote the email verbatim paused for a moment before hitting the send button much the way pilot paused before hitting the drop button on the Enola Gay before releasing the first atomic bomb on Japan in 1945.

The answer did not sit well with some parents and with others it was exactly how they felt only they would never have constructed such a frank response. J, the father of Junior, did not attend the next game but he did make sure that several officials from the league were in attendance to monitor the game. The game went poorly. The goalie was sick and so a stand in had to face a firing squad of competent skaters and shooters and stood there like a deer in the headlights, like a scarecrow in a field a corn field- you get the picture.

After the game, before the pilgrimage home, the family unit stopped for food. Monahan’s step-daughter ordered a bacon pretzel deluxe but failed to mention that she did not want onion, mustard, mayonnaise, catsup and lettuce. The prepubescent curled her lip at the food as if she had a pile of shit on her tray.

“This is not what you wanted?”

“I didn’t want all this stuff on it.”

“Did you tell them you wanted nothing but a burger, bacon and a bun?”

“Well… She didn’t ask me.”

Monahan took a deep breath, took the sandwich to the woman behind the counter and asked her to scrape off everything and give it back to him. Monahan’s step-daughter opened the burger and was astute enough to see that it was not a new burger but the same burger which had been scraped of condiments. This caused momma to come to her daughter’s rescue.

“You could yell and scream at kids and refs for an hour and a half but you don’t have the fortitude to go ask a small woman behind the counter to just give us a plain burger. It’s not coming out of her pocket. She won’t be offended… And I’ll tell you this- your daughter will not wear her coat in an ice box ice rink when I tell her too, will not urinate when I remind her to, will not drink lemonade because it’s pink and none of that matters to you. You want to give MY daughter a hard time over a burger. I will buy the fucking burger myself. I will go face that tough looking woman behind the counter and ask for another burger. Sit here with your daughter and ask her why she cannot drink lemonade that is pink.”

It was at that moment that Monahan pictured himself walking out of the restaurant, getting into the car and driving to the most southern point in the United States- Key West. No ice except in glasses, no hockey, no parents, no wife, no kids, no problems. Just a Mai-Tai and warm water.

On the ride home, Monahan’s daughter was quietly listening to a Taylor Swift song next to Lynn’s daughter. Lynn looked out of the passenger window with tightly folded arms. Monahan knew there was nothing he could say to make Lynn speak to him at that moment. He knew that being a coach was a thankless job that he did for the kids and that being the team manager was a thankless job his wife did to share in something he loves and to be with him. Monahan turned down the radio and began to sing a song that he learned watching the Wonderpets with his daughter when she was a toddler. Monahan always thought that the idea of a talking duck, guinea pig and turtle was pretty lame but the song popped into his head and he knew his wife would soften up and laugh if he could get the girls to just sing along with him.

“This is sew-ious, there’s a baby bewd in twouble somewhere… What’s gonna work? Teamwork! What’s gonna work? Teamwork!”

Yes, it was teamwork that melted the ice in Lynn’s heart, made the pre-teen forget about her hamburger debacle, the grade schooler forget about lemonade being pink, made Monahan not look like a too serious lce hockey coach who was afraid to rectify a burger gone wrong.


Unwanted Guests

February 18, 2014

“So have you been watching the Olympics?”  Asked Tristan.

Tristan studied the couple while his wife Isolde or Izzy was putting an assortment of cheeses and Spanish ham on a plate to go along with some wine from Argentina.  The man with the thick glasses and pronounced under bite, had a permanent smile.  He was a horse of a man, which will be interesting to note, but as soft as a marshmallow.  Izzy thought it would be nice to invite a new friend from work over to their house.  Izzy’s thought was to get Tristan’s mind off the fact that their daughter, a one time Olympic prospect for women’s ice hockey who had quit playing division I hockey at Princeton, met and married an orthodox Jewish kid who writes his own Reggae on acoustic guitar.  After getting married, they opened a vegan café where people can come and do nothing on computers all day, read their poetry or play music on a small stage.  Tristan often wondered where he failed.  What did he do to drive his daughter, a young woman who was recruited by every major university in the United States with a women’s ice hockey program, to Judaism, vegetarianism and away from sports.  Tom, the man with the folksy southern accent and marvelous under bite, pushed back his glasses, swirled his wine like a massive… mass and this mass’s center was surrounded by electrons which orbit the nucleus like planets revolving around the sun. You get the picture, right?  Tristan watched the swirling red wine and was waiting for the moment when it might leave the glass and fling itself against the wall, the white carpeting, his wife’s blouse or his chubby son’s ugly sweater.  It never happened.

“The Olympics is a farce and the winter Olympics are even more farcical than the summer.  My son Audie here shows champion Arabian horses and has been a world champion three times.  Lemme show you this.”

The southern gent showed pictures of his pugs, perfect lawn without a weed, his cats and then dozens of pictures of his son dressed in various costumes on top of horses.

“This horse here…  You see this horse here?”

“Yes, I’m seeing it,” answered Tristan.

“This horse here is worth more than your house.  This horse had to be put down for a broken foot; I mortgaged my home to buy this horse for my son who was diagnosed with Asperberger’s .  This horse saved my son and won more awards than any other show horse that has ever walked this planet.  My son is a three-time world champion.  Someone advised me once to get my son on a horse to help him build empathy as he matured.  It was as if a light switch went on.”

“Oh my god!  I loved Homo Americanus.  There was no greater horse I’m convinced than Homo Americanus,” said Audie as he stuffed his face with Cheese, ham and crackers.

“Quite a name.  Did you name him?”  Asked Tristan.

“Oh my god no!  The breeders give them their names and it’s customary to not rename the horses,” said Audie.

“Do the horses respond to names?”  Asked Tristan.

Nobody answered that question.  More wine flowed and Tristan listened to how horses were inseminated by men with long arms and rubber gloves up to their armpits.  More pictures were shown and movie clips on a phone.  Tristan kept drinking and listening and looking at his wife who forced this gathering upon him on a night when he just wanted to relax.  The southerner with the under bite named Tom, his wife Mary Sue and their son Audie never asked any of them one question.  They went on and on about horses, breeding horses, horse shows, where you keep horses, finding the right places to house horses.  Finally Tristan left the room and re-emerged in his pajamas.  Izzy, Tristan’s wife was incensed by the rude act of sending a non-verbal message to houseguests that it is time to go home.  Tristan filled his wine glass with some more wine and a hunk of cheese, took a seat and began to speak.

“I raised my daughter Catholic, taught her to play ice hockey, she became an Olympic prospect, received a Division I scholarship, walked away from that and married a Jew, became a Jew herself, makes lesbian safe muffins without gluten and any other substance that could have derived from an animal.  It broke my heart…  My heart beats at 52 beats a minute while resting. I can bench press more than my weight six times.  I can run a mile under nine minutes still for a man of my age.  I can still fuck on command.  I like historical fiction, Jazz music sometimes and rock sometimes.  I didn’t vote for the president and this does not make me a racist.  With that said, I think the guy is doing okay considering the idiots he works with and against who refuse to help one another out for the good of the people.  My wife posts shit like I’m saying on Facebook constantly so that anonymous friends of friends give her a thumbs up.  I hope you all give me a thumbs up tonight for what I’ve told you.  You didn’t ask me any of the things that I just told you but then again, I didn’t think you were going to ask us any questions at all.  Horses are great and it is most interesting to know that a man impregnates show horses rather than other horses.  I tried to be a sport tonight and I’ve had just enough wine to express my thoughts.  My wife won’t talk to me now for a week and that might be just the time I need to get through the Olympics and accept that my daughter might move to Israel and collaborate with her husband on a folk album of children songs written in Hebrew, played with a Reggae beat…  We all have our crosses to burn or bear, my friends.”

Tristan wolfed down the rest of his wine, held up his glass and smiled.

“L’chaim…  Hebrew for to your health.  I’m sure somewhere my daughter would appreciate me saying this.  Goodnight and may your god keep you.”

Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms

January 14, 2014

If you live in a place like Australia or Brazil, it would be hard to imagine it being colder than inside a freezer with wind and snow.  Not a soul stirred outside a small restaurant five miles west of the United Center on Madison Street in Chicago.  It was the sort of night when police officers are directed to pick up homeless and dump them off at centers designated for warming during extreme cold.

The owner of the small bar washed dishes, toilets, tables and salt off the hardwood floors that was tracked in by patrons alone.  The Chicago Blackhawks were playing the San Jose Sharks at the United Center just a few miles away.  A man with a voice best fit for opera, sang the national anthem of the United States.  Over weight, mustachioed buffoons stuffed into hockey jerseys like casing around sausage of white, black or red colors with a the profile of a Semitic looking indigenous American Indian plastered across their chests, cheered wildly for a song that they really didn’t like or revere all that much.  The proprietor leaned on his mop and watched the display of temporary patriotism prior to the start of the game and wondered how many of the “fans” actually understood the game of ice hockey.  As the owner pondered something that could not be quantified, a neighborhood patron entered the establishment.  There he stood with long flowing hair a la Fabio and a deeply assertive voice.

“I take it you have the game on…”

“If you want me to turn on the Bachelor, I could do that for you…”

“Quite droll…  Fix me a Motherfucker post haste, my good man.”

A Motherfucker is composed of Gin, Rum, vodka, triple sec, Galliano, Hennessey and a splash of whatever cola you have available.  The former marine who went by the biblical name Matthew downed two Motherfuckers before two other patrons entered the bar.  The pair who soon entered the bar was already liquored up and only entered the bar because they saw humans watching a television screen together in front of a wide array of liquor.  They were old, white, rich, drunk and obnoxious.  The bartender, floor washer braced for idiocy as he asked what it was that they wanted to drink.

“A really good bourbon that would remind a man of a warm day at the Kentucky derby where debutants team up waiting to be tapped like kegs.  Yes a bourbon for me and whatever beer my accomplice might want.”

The accomplice rattle off a slew of obscure microbrews that most people never heard of and then settled for a Harp.  The bourbon drinker appeared to be a bloated Richard Gere with money.  He spilled a little of his bourbon on his white shirt and then went on to tell the other two men how he bought the suit jacket in Bermuda while on vacation with the wife of a close friend.

“Do you have a Lear Jet?  Have you ever been to Nova Scotia to see the total eclipse of the sun?”  Asked the barman.

“Only an old fart would refer to a song written by a young woman who is now in her seventies.”

“Your only as old as you allow yourself to feel, my good man.”

“Fuck both of you and this long haired pussy motherfucker right here.  Only a faggot wears his hair that fucking long, hoping to get butt plugged by a priest or a Penn State football coach…”

Mathew took a look at the thin man dressed as though he had escaped from a country club, raised his Motherfucker to his lips and then posed a question.

“What kind of a J. Crew looking dork wears Topsiders with no socks on a day when it’s colder here than in Alaska.  You wanna make fun of my hair?  I can still comb and grow my own.  In fact I’m willing to donate the hair off my nut sack so that a fuck stick like you can grow a little on top of their head…  Calm down Sally before you get hurt.  I’ve fucked tougher guys than you in prison when I had nothing to do.  I am a Marine and have fought to keep this country free for people like you.  Enjoy your first drinking experience and fuck yourself.”

Everyone but the longhaired Marine laughed.  The mince man with beer muscles decided to accost the longhaired man because he was indeed jealous that a nearly middle-aged man could wear his hair like a debutante.  Mathew covered his drink with a bar napkin and went out to the sidewalk to have a cigarette.  Within a minute, the other two men walked out to the sidewalk to have cigars.  The Richard Gere-esqe man bragged about a one night stand with a young woman that he had landed the night before and how he had referred to something from the 1980s and went on to learn that she was born in 1991.  The country clubber began to sob about his recent divorce and how he missed his kids.  Matthew flicked his cigarette into the street and went back in to watch the hockey game.  Chicago was up 2-1 in the third period.  Matthew told the barkeep how good the Blackhawks were and how they were going to go on and win another Stanley Cup this year.  The bartender with the Detroit Red Wing tattoo on his left arm that was visible listened and politely disagreed.

“Corey Crawford is playing about as good as Joan Crawford.  I will bet you $20.00 that he let’s in a goal to tie and they lose in OT…”

Matthew slammed down a twenty-dollar bill on the bar.  Not more than a minute later, San Jose scored a goal to tie the game.  Matthew ordered another Motherfucker.  Richard Gere and the country clubber returned from the cold smelling of cigars.  The man with Topsiders playfully punched Matthew’s shoulder, as he was about to take a sip of his Motherfucker.  The Motherfucker spilled on Matthew’s shirt.  He stood and grabbed the shirt of the thin man.  The manager reached over the bar and pushed both men away from each other.  The man with a sweater draped over his shoulders like a Princeton co-ed laughed in the face of the longhaired military man.  It only serves to stoke the flames of anger in a man who angered easily.

“I like blindly patriotic fucks like you…  You sign up to die for causes that don’t even exist.  You cry during Chevy truck commercials and love the president because he’s the commander-and-chief.  Never mind that he was born in Kenya.”

Matthew took out a small revolver and set it on the bar.  The sweater-clad man pushed Matthew off of his barstool and laughed.  Matthew grabbed his gun, pressed it to the foot of the offender and discharged his weapon.  The bullet went through the foot of the thin man, bounced off of the floor and lodged in the ceiling of the establishment.  The thin man howled in pain and then laughed so hard that he urinated in his pants.  Richard Gere slapped down a $100.00 and told the barman to keep the change.  He didn’t want any part of a police inquiry that could last all night.  Matthew was suddenly scared for what he did but remained stoic.  He apologized to the barkeeper for a sudden lapse of sane judgment but justified the act by stating that the victim was an asshole.  The victim agreed that he was an asshole and asked for a cab to be called.

“I’m a dick.  I know it.  My wife would agree with me.  I’m just going to take myself to the hospital and claim that some punk with a hood on shot me when I wouldn’t give him any money for panhandling…  Oh shit.  The Blackhawks did lose the game.  Looks like longhairs lost twenty bucks.”

“Do you want me to shoot your other fucking foot?”

“No…  How bout a shot of tequila before the cab comes and it’s on me…  Bartender, pour yourself one.”

The three men had a shot of tequila and then Matthew helped the thin divorced man with a sweater draped over his shoulders, no socks and a hole in his foot get into a cab.  Matthew accompanied the man to the emergency room where they both agreed it was a young guy with a hood on who shot the thin man in the foot.  The desk clerk, a black woman asked for a description of the offender.  Both white men looked at one another before answering.  Matthew decided to answer.

“It would be racist of me to say that the offender was of a particular race consistent with this sort of crime, ma’am”

The black woman held her pen to her lips and squinted while listening to Matthew.  She surmised that the crime was a drunken mistake.  She posed a question.

“Do you want to admit to shooting this man in the foot or should I just wait for the police to ask you?”