How I Fell In Love With Hockey, or Why Puckball Freaking Rules
I fell in sweaty, icy love this week — not with one man, or one lady, but with a game. An experience. A thing that normal people call hockey, but that I now think of as my beloved puckball. I grew up thinking hockey sucked. It was played on ice, which just seemed odd to a kid raised around grassy games like football, baseball and golf. It was played by Canadians, and they seemed nice enough, but they pronounced their vowels in odd ways and I couldn’t quite understand why their bacon was different from our bacon. Hockey seemed bloody and sweaty and stinky and weird. There appeared to be copious amounts of snot involved, and saliva, and terrible haircuts. Hockey seemed fake, somehow, because it was different. “That’s not a real sport,” I’d think to myself when I overheard snatches of conversation about the Rangers or Devils. “And it’s so boring.”
How wrong I was.
A few days back, I thought it’d be funny if I livetweeted the first game in the Stanley Cup Final. This is a competition that involves a giant cup named after a Canadian named Lord Stanley, and who knew who the hell he was, and honestly who cared? I still don’t know who he is, and I still don’t care. That said, I am super-into finding out who is going to win his giant receptacle this year.
But when I turned on the TV, I wasn’t into it for nice reasons. I was there to make jokes and be snarky.
It’s not that I thought hockey fans were stupid. When I was a little kid, my first crush was on a hockey-playing boy who was just lovely. I like the fabulous Kevin Smith and the badass Jen Schwalbach a whole lot. They are a hockey family. They are hockey people. I think their house is run not on conventional energy but on the collected drops of sweat of various puckballers. And Norm Macdonald is very funny, and he likes hockey, and I’m a fan of his. Mike Myers is very funny, and he loves hockey, and he basically did everything I ever imitated in fifth grade, so obviously he was smart.
I didn’t know why they were into hockey. I just knew I wasn’t into it, and I wanted to make fun of it.
Then the game started.
I realized I had never really paid attention to hockey before.
I paid attention.
And I immediately panicked.
“Why do I feel anxious?” I asked myself. “Oh, I don’t know, maybe it’s because there are a bunch of dudes RUNNING on ICE with fucking KNIVES strapped to their feet? And also they have GIANT STICKS OF DEATH!” Thankfully I take a lot of Prozac, so I didn’t have an actual panic attack when one dude slammed another dude down to the ice, but I thought about reaching for my Klonopin. I didn’t do it, but I thought about it.
Now as I said before, I grew up on baseball and golf. Golf bores the hell out of me sometimes but I find it soothing. I enjoy a good walk spoiled. Baseball is lovely and I’d marry Derek Jeter today even though I’m in love with another person and I’m pretty sure that dick has been inside the vast majority of orange-hued women in the New York metropolitan area (and that’s a LOT of chicks). Whatever, if I were Jeter I’d fuck everyone repeatedly and then write poetry about it on the inside of my locker just because I COULD. He deserves it, with all that man has done for the people of the Tri-State area. In fact, if you’re a New York-area chick and you’re reading this, please go offer yourself up to #2 right now. Tell him I sent ya.
Anyway, back to hockey.
I never realized how FAST hockey was. It’s fast! Do you know how fast it is? So fast that I started to get a headache from watching the puck go every which way. Also, there is a thing the goalie stands in. It is called “the crease,” which is hilarious, because obviously this is about sex! It is blue, and I don’t know why they don’t just call it “the blue place,” but hockey fans have a sick sense of humor from being an oppressed and embattled people, and thus they call it “the crease.”
Here are some other things I have learned about hockey, now that I have watched four games: there are three periods (ha! Hockey has periods.) The big circles on the ice that look like giant boobs are actually called “face-off circles,” I think, maybe, and that’s where face-offs happen. Not the movie starring Nic Cage and John Travolta, but like a sports thing.
There is a Box of Shame where the guys have to go if they do something bad, even though hockey’s definition of “something bad” seems to mean “actually picking up a skate and slashing someone in the face with it,” since it is apparent that these dudes are allowed to do a LOT of violence to each other and it’s totally normal. You stay in the Box of Shame for a certain amount of time and then you are released.
I know I am supposed to pick a side, because I live in Los Angeles, but I just can’t! I just enjoy the game too much. I don’t really care who wins. I just want them to be happy, really. I want good things for all these men in their weird padded death suits. I just mostly don’t want them to die on the ice.
Hockey gives me a weird natural high, the kind of joy one can only feel when one is sitting on one’s ass on the sofa, watching grown men beat the shit out of each other with sticks.
Needless to say, I’ve watched all the Stanley Cup Final games. At some point NBC started putting them on NBC Sports Network, which is fucking bullshit, because do you know how hard it is to find NBC Sports Network? Dumb dumb dumb. Anyway, the other day I realized I didn’t have Channel 220 on my DirecTV subscription, so guess what I did? I called up those puppet-fuckers and I said, “GIVE ME THE UPGRADED PACKAGE SO I CAN WATCH MY STICKGAME!” And so now I pay an extra $7 a month for 45 extra channels including NBC Sportsdumb.
I’m real glad, too, because the Kings were up in the series and they could’ve swept it by winning all four games in a row, but oh hailz no, the Rangers came back and won one at home in Madison Square Garden, so now the series is 3-1 and there’s a chance the Rangers could win! Which is very nice for them and their goalie, Henrik Lundqvist, pictured above. People think he’s a dreamboat. I think he looks like Early Man from a diorama at the Museum of Natural History, but whatever.
In conclusion: I’m going to start wearing hockey jerseys around the house, and eventually I’ll learn the actual rules of the game. But if you are as misguided as I once was and you think hockey sucks, let me explain to you a true thing: hockey does not suck! It fucking rules! Let’s all watch the game Friday night, okay? I think it’s on real NBC, thank fucking God and Bob Costas. I’ll be livetweeting. It’s gonna be so awesome!