Life Skills

“I think you have Asperger’s”, my wife said to me.
If you’re not into the latest psychological mumbo-jumbo, it means basically that you have a one-track mind.
It’s a new kick she’s on. I tell her it’s because if you have a white car, then you see white cars everywhere.
“You’ve got only one interest,” she continued on with her analysis. “All you do is play hockey.”
Of course I rushed to defend myself as quickly as an aging beer drinker has to run to the latrine. “That’s not true at all. I also watch a lot of hockey. You can’t deny that.”
What do people who don’t like sports do to fill their free time?

I bring up these specifics of my domestic life because at the end of August my daughter Rachelle had to get back to Bishop’s University a week early for the start of her hockey team’s training camp. She’s a two year veteran but she had a strained hamstring muscle to begin tryouts and then took a slapshot on the calf muscle on the first day. She was understandably upset. Especially since the team’s scouting and coaching staff are constantly bringing in new prospects. My wife dismissed this concern as quickly and easily as I do the latest politically-correct, feminist rant that I read every day in the media.

“Look… hockey is a diversion at university. She’s got two more years left for her degree.. the rest of her life depends on what she does in these two years left at school.”

Hmmph. We agree on this about as much as we agree on, well… most matters. I loved my years of university hockey. Probably picked up more life skills on the ice and in the dressing room than I did listening to my professors in the classroom. I even remember a lot of what I watched on t.v. throughout those years. I’m not proud to admit this, but I was a regular in the t.v. room in my residence. I’d watch t.v. at night after practice and sometimes in the afternoon before practice. If I read my political science textbooks they’d just put me to sleep and I didn’t want to be drowsy during practice.
To paraphrase the title of a book that was popular several decades ago, ‘Everything I Learned I Learned In Hockey.’

The biggest lessons ? Have a thick skin. Leave your ego at the entrance of the dressing room door. And never, ever take yourself too seriously. I’m convinced that a lot of the neuroses, anxiety and depression of today would be lessened many fold if adolescents today could spend one half hour each day in a simulated hockey dressing room.

The repartee is what’s important. Last winter a player on another team in a league I play in relayed to me a snippet of a conversation of which he had been a part. Another player had been traded to a rival squad, ostensibly to even up the calibre of the league. Traded player told my friend that the trade happened because as an ‘impact’ player the weaker team to which he was going would benefit from his talent.
My friend couldn’t resist a jab. “Impact player”, he replied. “I heard you were traded because you were making your teammates nervous in the shower.!”

Politically correct? Of course not. But we all need a refuge from an overly-serious world from time to time.

I’ll close up with this last one. When a player will be absent from a game then his team is supposed to replace him with someone of roughly equal ability, so as the balance of the league is not affected. In my e-mail yesterday, Dave G. sent me a photo that his son living in Brooklyn, New York had taken at a bus stop. It was of a stooped, white-haired eighty-five year old woman who was leaning on a hockey stick for support.
“We finally found a replacement player for Chris,” Dave had written underneath the photo. Chris, of course, is a mutual friend who in the past has handed out at least as much abuse as he has received.
I’m looking forward to his payback. Keeps us all humble.

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