Until a few months ago, my mom was not a hockey fan. Then sometime in December, around the time of Stu Bickel’s first Rangers game, she became one of us. She started calling me after games to talk about an exciting play. And she’d call, giggling, when fights broke out. I loved it, but I had no idea what was going on. A few weeks ago I asked her if she’d be interested in writing a guest post about the short history of her hockey fandom and what it was that she liked about the game.
This is what she wrote:
Sally asked me write about why I started liking hockey when I used to hate it. I went two or three times to the rink at Cornell to see the middle-schoolers (Sally’s friends) play. I couldn’t stand when the players got shoved up against the sides. I’d cringe and shut my eyes. It sounded horrible and I felt sorry for their mothers.
A few years ago, Sally took me to an Elmira Jackals game. That was fun. I could laugh at myself when I couldn’t find the puck and when I kept calling the periods, “quarters”. Then Sally started watching games when she was at my house. I’d watch them with her because it was a way to spend time together. Little by little I learned more. I kinda know what an icing is and I can almost see an off-sides call. Mostly, I just liked spending time with my Rangers-obsessed daughter.
Then I started watching when Sally wasn’t home. I’ve always loved dance – to watch the incredible movements of a dancer. It is not a big leap to love the graceful way the skaters move – even in their aggressiveness. Turning on a dime; splattering themselves on the ice to get in the way of the puck; dribbling (?) the puck to make a goal. The fights and the checking seem funny to me now – like little boys having a tantrum. I recognize Dubinsky and Callahan and the coach. I enjoy hearing about Bickel’s fights. (He might be the biggest baby.) They are like friends from a new TV series. It takes me out of myself. I get to laugh at myself and sometimes them. I’m learning something new. Most of all I have one more thing to share with my terrific child and be part of her life. It’s a gift she gave me.
To be clear, she was already the most amazing and wonderful mom ever long before she started liking hockey. But to hear her kvell about her favorite player (Callahan), or to listen to her Rick Jeanneret impressions, or to joke with her about tweeting Stu Bickel (she doesn’t know what that means)… well, it just makes her all the more amazing and wonderful. And it also makes this surprising and unforgettable season all the more surprising and unforgettable.