Today is my daughter’s birthday. I recall the day she was born so clearly yet I can't seem to remember where I put my glasses sometimes. On this day in 1980 at 1:06 p.m. she was handed to me all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.
I am extremely proud of her as she is a professor at the University of Alabama Huntsville. Everyone says she got her mother's brains and my natural good looks so she has it made in this world.
To celebrate her birthday, last night we all went to the local arena to see a fight and a hockey game broke out.
It was my first hockey game and I still can’t figure out why people get excited watching grown men chase a frozen biscuit around on the ice.
Back and forth players skate and every few minutes a whistle would blow for a penalty called “icing.” This is some kind of foul and not the kind of icing your mom did to the birthday cake.
To settle the penalty, the referee takes a black biscuit and tosses it down on the ice between two opposing players and they whack at it and at each other with hockey sticks. It bounces out and they are back to more skating back and forth and the subsequent “icing” events.
With the biscuit chasing, shin whacking players still at it, I started watching the crowd. Most were chatting and eating a menagerie of fat filled items and drinking liquor enhanced beverages. The booze probably explained the dazed look on their faces and how they are able to watch such a display of boring keystone cops antics.
Suddenly, the crowd came to life, nachos fell to the floor, drinks spilled on the rows in front of them and a roar filled the stadium. Turning quickly to see what I thought would be one of the few actual points scored, I instead was greeted with a fight mid-ice between two players.
Equipment flew up in the air like an accident on the interstate and the referees skated over and piled on top of the two players sprawled on the ice throwing punches. Whatever the discussion between the four of them, soon they parted company and the players were put in “the box” on the sidelines for two minutes of penalty time.
This is reminiscent of our prison sentencing guidelines as players get a short sentence, free drinks and food while in the box and they both laughed and waved at one another through the separating glass.
As soon as they were properly locked up, the play continued and the crowd resumed their inattention to the game and sent children scurrying for more corn dogs, nachos and t-shirts.
The highlight of the night was the chuck-a-puck toss. In this event, spectators in the stadium buy a foam puck and write their name on it. At a predetermined moment, the crowd sends pucks hurdling down to the ice hoping to make it into a mop bucket and win $250.
Now, those of you who know Trixie are fully aware of her competitive nature. That's how she ended up with me. But that's another story, of course.
Trixie bought six foam pucks and sat excitedly awaiting the signal to throw them. The time finally came and thousands of pucks rained down on the ice. Well most of them did.
The first one I saw Trixie throw hit a balding gentleman on the head in the section below us. It bounced twice then turned just like the magic bullet in the JFK conspiracy theory films and landed in a lady's drink.
I told Trixie a lawsuit was probably pending for her but she assured me that my name was on that puck. I did get to toss one puck and almost hit the bucket but when I turned to Trixie for another one, she stood dazed and empty-handed. Apparently she got so excited and threw the rest of the pucks. I am not sure she even took them out of the plastic bag they were in before throwing them.
Supposedly she managed an expedition to Mount Everest but it’s obvious to me that had not prepared her for the adventures of this night. But then again, there is no telling how many Sherpas got conked on the head with cans of Spam that she tossed off that glacier either.
In the third period another fight broke out and the crowd coo’d with glee cheered on by the mascots Chaos and Rukus. Watching grown men around me yell, “fight, fight” got me to thinking about my own sporting life – filled with serene fly-fishing and a few tennis matches here in there.
Since I played tennis in college, I guess I am more of a lover than a fighter. But it always did bother me to say "LOVE" to another male opponent then try and bash him with a hard serve or cross court shot. I guess even love has its limits.