Blackhumouristpress's Blog

November 18, 2018

First Liners and Speaking Portuguese

Filed under: humor,humour,Ice hockey,Short Story,Uncategorized — blackhumouristpress @ 2:32 am
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Pam was anti everything as a young woman. She didn’t like religion or government or patriotism or marriage and for sure not sports. She was a dowdy young thing that didn’t care to tweeze her eyebrows and only showered sparingly. She went to college to play tuba in the college marching band.

It was in her mid twenties that she met an older man at a bar. He befriended her by commenting on how good the USC marching band sounded at halftime while eating really salty peanuts at a lounge inside a hotel. Pam commented on USC and other schools with really good marching bands. The conversation moved to what she did and what he did and three drinks later, Pam had gone upstairs with the middle-aged businessman. It went from simple making out to fifty shades of gray around the temples in no time. A bottle of Viagra and Champagne, a few rounds of what felt like love to Pam and as they say in French-voila.

Twelve years later, Pam was the mother of a boy who looked a lot like what Pam remembered of the man she slept with one night only that sired her offspring. Larry was a different sort of lad and had a hard time keeping friends and an even harder time staying focused on things that did not interest him. Larry was put on Ritalin and went to special classes and then moved entirely to a Montessori school to hide his ADD. At the Montessori school, if Larry wanted to read about snakes or walk around the room making dinosaur sounds with his shirt pulled over his head, he could do that and a nice, young underpaid teacher, would tell him how well he did at imitating a dinosaur. Even at the unique school, Larry was having a hard time finding friends and fitting in. The young social worker that Larry would see weekly, suggested Larry take up ice hockey. Now Pam detested sports but thought the idea had merit and went to the local park district and put him in learn to skate classes and within a short period of time, Larry was put on a peewee team before he was ready. Hockey is like a language. If you cannot skate, you cannot play or even fake it. If you do not know a foreign language, you cannot converse in that language.

Picture a child taking Portuguese once a week for a month and then being plopped in a room of people speaking Portuguese… Bem Obrigado… And very little beyond that. Larry struggled to skate forward without leaning on the stick. Skating backwards was a butt-twisting waddle with no lateral movement. Receiving passes was as difficult as trying to shoot the puck without missing.

Larry drew a grizzled veteran who after coaching for many years, found himself coaching house league pee wees. Otto thought the kids were nice and attentive but he often grew impatient with their lack of ability. In practices and games Otto would often speak openly and plainly to the young boys.

“I know you all swear… I know you’re all looking at graphic porn on those phones when mum is not around. I’m not the police and neither are any of you. What I say stays in this locker room and does not go home to mum… Agreed?”

The boys nodded a yes and wondered where the coach was going with things as he paced back and forth in the locker room.

“People will tell you that winning isn’t important… Those people are lying to you. Do you think Ovechkin would have skated around the rink jumping up and down if he lost? Do you think Hillary Clinton threw a party for coming close and losing? Fuck no. I say fuck for emphasis, boys. Fucking comes later in life but we use the word now for emphasis… There is no and fuck no. I don’t ever want to fucking lose. I hate to lose but I can live with a loss if everyone moves their ass and does everything they can on every shift. If you are standing around like a right fielder in a little league game, I will let you know strongly. Play every shift like it’s your last and you will always try hard. Pretend that your goalie is not in front of that net and you will play good defense. Pass when you should instead of when you absolutely have to and think before you get the puck and you will be a smarter player… Let’s get out there and do what we practice and win this bitch.”

Otto’s goalie was a scarecrow in the net and let nearly every shot in. One line played well and the other was behind the action. Larry stood around watching everyone race around after face offs. As a right wing, he never covered the points and stood only feet away from the defense as they struggled to clear the zone. The concept of going the opposite direction in the second period perplexed Larry. The idea of not going into the other team’s zone before the puck, made no sense to Larry. Tagging up too was a difficult concept. Larry had killed momentum five times by going offside in just one period alone. Otto called a time out and got in face of Larry before a face off in the other team’s zone in a tied game with twenty two seconds to go in the game. Otto thought about passing up Larry and a few other of his lesser players on the team but he already had to discuss with the hockey director, an attractive young woman who figure skated as a girl that did not play ice hockey, that occasionally in order to win, you have to put out a power line, you have to have the right center and so on. Otto had to listen to a lecture about balanced ice time among all players. In a snarky reply, Otto told the director that Larry’s balance on the ice is reliant on leaning on his stick. Otto looked at Larry during the time out and gave him a pep talk.

“Our center is going to tie up their center and not play the puck. The defense is going to come in and get the puck and fire it at the net. I need you to get your ass to the net with your stick on the ice. Don’t fuck this up. Puck drops get to the net… Am I clear?”

It all worked like planned. The center tied up the opposing center and pushed him back just far enough to not get an interference call. The defenseman came in got the puck and fired it on net. Larry panicked thinking that the shot would hit him. As he raised his stick and twisted his body to avoid being hit, the puck bounced off of his stick and found the back of the net. Larry was tackled by the players on the ice and got the game puck. As Otto was sneaking out the side door to get to his car, there waiting for him was Larry’s mother Pam. She had on a knit hat with pussycat ears and a puffy jacket with political buttons up and down both sides. Otto was ready to hear something whacked out as he approached his car. Pam asked Otto a question that he was not ready for.

“Would you like to go out for a drink some time?”

I can’t tell you if they talked about marching bands or ate salty peanuts in a lounge. I can’t tell you if there was champagne or Viagra involved or if they worked on making a sibling for young Larry. People want happy endings. Things were weird between Pam and Otto before their date and they got even weirder after. Larry never made the power play or learned to speak Portuguese very well. Otto often ignored Pam’s text messages and calls. And that’s just how things go.

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