Big Man In the Locker Room

“Big Man in The Locker Room” — kinda like BMOC.  Actually, this is more like a mid-sized man in the locker room.  MsMITLR, then.

If one lives, or, if not exactly “lives”, just abides or tolerates the ravages of aging and gravity and the slings of all the misfortune that time and the environment hurls at you long enough, unexpected stuff can happen.

I never, yes, never, thought (in the proverbial thousand years) that in a sports locker room I would start telling a story, and everyone (yes, everyone) would pay attention and listen.

It only took 50+ years to get to this point.


It helps if you have the stories, and you get up and gesticulate and pace back and forth to physically illustrate your point, and know when to keep it short enough to not lose your audience.

And believe you me, there are stories aplenty, and undoubtedly there is no end in sight.  As long as I continue to show up to play.

I was in what we now call “middle school” when I started spending appreciable time in sports or gym-class locker rooms. This experience continued into high school, and for short intervals of time thereafter. I was almost always part of the Mouseketeer Club, or Sheriff Scotty’s posse, you know, the audience, that the Last Comics Standing, or the Big Men In The Locker Room, were pontificating to.  And, like almost everyone immersed in the boy’s locker-room sub-culture, I got really proficient at snapping towells.

Again, I’m more like the medium, and not big, man.  You know, the sort of person that the real BMITLRs can sometimes sit back and allow to hold court, briefly.

After a three-and-a-half year closure, our local ice arena opened back up a couple months ago.  This MMITLR thing will probably be a short-lived phenomenon, and may be at or near its end already.  The corps (core?) ((corpse?  hopefully, not!)) of my last team is back together, but with less than half of our previous assemblage, fleshed out with new-comers, there usually isn’t enough of an established group familiarity, yet, for a good continual locker-room banter.  So, I’ll just step right in and …

A good story (if YOU haven’t heard it more than once, or twice) which I can still tell with enthusiasm is how my son met his girlfriend.  I tell it twice.

tom & shannon between games in a tournament

Sonny boy (Tom) was married, sort of happily or so he imagined and after just one year the wife tells him she doesn’t love him and never had.  Of course he was crushed!  And after that, he was not exactly trying to find someone else.  But he did …

“How did your son meet his new girl-friend?” someone may ask.

“Oh — they were at a social gathering, got into a disagreement, started fighting, he gave her a bloody nose, they’ve been together ever since.”  Yes, it might sound like we’ve raised a woman-beating monster.  That is very, quite, really far from the truth.

Same story, a bit more descriptive:  he was behind the opponent’s net battling for the puck with another player.  Someone comes up behind him, starts pushing, jabbing, poking … Tom decides to give whoever behind him he can’t see  a message.  He punches backward with his right elbow, catching the guy in the chest, who falls back.   Two periods later, he is again behind the other goal and trying to get the puck from an opponent.  Again, he feels someone come up from behind and poke and jab and then he sees a stick coming around his skate.  He thinks:  “I thought I taught you a lesson last time.”  (He assumes it’s the same person).  He lets his elbow fly as hard as he can, and … catches HER in the nose.  Tom turns around and sees this tall beautiful blond lying on the ice in a pool of blood.  He feels like, you know, really really crummy and not-so-macho.  He bends over to grab her hand and help her up.

“Take you out to dinner?”

“All right” she says.  They’ve been together ever since.  And — she is the better player and has probably more than evened the un-intended beating score.  The new girlfriend:  it’s like a happy co-worker of mine says — Tom (and, separately, co-worker) is (are) doing so much better this time around!

My awesome hockey ability

In describing my awesome ability I’ll re-hash how a former team summarized it.  Towards the end of our Arena’s previous incarnation, we were in the locker room.  The team captain pointed out a player in the corner and stated what he was good at, and a couple things he wasn’t quite so good at.  He looked at the next player and noted that he was the fastest skater, and quick enough to scoot from the other goal back to ours to help defend.  The next player had the most accurate shot.  He paused when he got to me.

“Uh, he’s enthusiastic.  Tries hard. ”  “Team player,” added another.  “Goes all out.”

“But … slow reaction time.”  “Hardly any hand-eye coordination,” noted the captain.  “Just plain slow,” chimed in someone else.  A player who’d been sitting quietly concluded: “hardly any real athletic ability whatsoever.”

Aspirations to improve to mediocrity

That was then.  Now, I maintain that I aspire to mediocrity — a couple levels of ability UP from where I normally operate.  Every once in a while I pull off a somewhat productive shift, and even more rarely, have a 15-minute span of time in the goal where less than a couple of pucks go in.

And … a couple games ago I stopped three  (or four? I can’t remember) pucks with my head!  A team-mate joked that that was by design.  Yeah … right.  And the game after, the play seemed to be entrenched at the other end, so I took off the gloves and put the stick on top of the goal so I could get a drink of water.  A quick break ensued and I quickly tried to pull the gloves on — and didn’t have time to get the stick before the first shot came my way.  Who’d a thunkkit?  I stopped two, three shots with my feet and hands.  “You do better without that stick” another team-mate quipped.

Marv Daley and the Team Dynamic

After the first year of the initial incarnation of our local ice venue, I was assigned to a team named the Kegerators.  A mostly-established team, I was one of “the new kids.”  After about a year, and three or so seasons, whatever passes for the team dynamic was pretty well ingrained.  I could count on certain people to be invariably friendly.  You can banter and talk with these guys and immerse yourself into the team herd mentality.  And then there was one of two lawyers on the team, Marvin Daley.

Kegerators(Yes, I adulterated the jersey when they let me go to ‘free agency’)

Marv was by far the team #1 anal-orifice.  Rude to almost all opponents, cheap talk, egging them on, and being a better player than most didn’t help.  (He could have played in the league up from the Novice and held his own.  Well, if he could keep his mouth shut.)  Sometimes he might ask me a question, or I’d start to talk to him and usually by the second sentence he’d walk away.  I could COUNT on this behavior.  Part of the team dynamic.  If “dynamic” ain’t applicable, well, team … vibe.

In later 2008 I was scheduled to undergo prostate cancer surgery.  I would be out for several weeks, and I thought the team captain should know.  I figured I should tell someone, in the event anyone counted on me or perhaps there was a game coming up where half the team couldn’t make it.  “Brian,” I concluded, “don’t tell anyone.”

After the next game I left the locker room to go home.  In the corridor, Marv appreared, stopped me, hand on my chest.  I stepped back to the wall.  “Are you okay?” he asked, intently peering into my eyes.   I had to look down for eye contact, as Marv is a prime example of the Napoleon syndrome.  Well, he’s just a few inches shorter than I.

Shit” I thought.  “He knows.”

We talked a bit and as I continued out to the car I felt like my perception of the team-dynamic was altered.  Things were a bit … uncertain.  Marv thereafter was, if not “nice,” treated me slightly better than he did most the team.  He’d listen to me when I answered his questions, and we had actual conversations sometimes.  The shift and new uncertainty as to what was what and who was who and how people would act was no longer the same.  I could no longer COUNT on him to be the team asshole, as far as I was concerned.  Five-plus years later, though on different teams, we are still on friendly terms.  I told “my Marv Daley story” to my present team, while they were unanimously complaining about him a few games ago.

Different leagues, different assignments (“7, 57”)

Now, later 2013 and early 2014, the arena has been (re) opened three months now and leagues are underway.  I play “out” in the regular league, as the level of play is consistently NOT “novice.”  However, there is an unofficial league where I do play goalie.

A new fellow showed up to be the other goalie a couple weeks back.  He hadn’t played in five years and I was impressed by how well he did.  He may have had a handfull (or less) goals scored on him, whereas I let that number into the net every ten minutes or so.

We talked during a break in the game.  “I’ve been playing since age seven,” Tanner said.  “When did you start?”

“Fifty-seven,” I answered.  He gave me look which conveyed the look one gives when they think they are being, uh, bull-shitted to.  I don’t think he believed anything I said the rest of the night.  Oh well …

Mismatched gloves


When I started to play “out” (not goalie) I had accumulated a lot of equipment from charitable? and/or generous other players.  I already had (1) a helmet!, and (2) shin guards and (3) shoulder pads from Bombers team-mates.  A college player gave me his old (4) breezers (better than the ones I had!).  So, I had to purchase GLOVES, among a few other things.

I bought (I’m not entirely sure!) a pair of CCMs.  It was, I think, the second game later that when I got home and emptied the equipment bag I noticed the unique pair, above.  It has been six or so years, and I thought I would have encountered the player with a similar pair of gloves, but so far haven’t.

Todd enthuses


During my second (of two) seasons as playing goalie for a league team, I had had just two wins during the regular season (hey! I had a couple “ties”!) and each time had taken a Vicodin before the game.  We were in the double-elimination playoffs against another back-against-the-wall team.  One team would go home and the other would live to fight another day.

Entering the locker room, Todd asks if I had taken a Vicodin.

“Todd”, I confess.  “I was leaving the house to drive away, and realized I had not had a Vicodin.  I was too lazy to go back downstairs, so instead took an aspirin and ibuprofin, chased by a shot of whiskey.”

“ALLLL RIGHT!” Todd enthused, smacking me a high five.

We won that game in an over-time penalty shoot-out.

and Other Records

I am not exactly proud of the fact that in my short and mediocre career, there were two times I played goalie against my “real” team.  And I was the winning goalie each time.

And, as recently as LAST NIGHT, even though most the players were of decidedly above “novice” caliber, heck, we all had a bunch of fun.  As usual.  Though I allowed more goals than saves for the first half of the game, towards the end there was more than one mass frenzied whackaroonie where I ‘saved’ many goals by simply being a target.  The shots reflected off of me, but of course I had to act like I intended to be in the puck’s way.  It seemed most the players out on the ice were borderline-obsequiously nice to the senior citizen goalie and would exult “great save!”  “You’re on fire!”

On fire?  I don’t think anyone has ever said THAT to me, complimentarily, that is.  (There were some campfire mishaps many years ago … oh, never mind.)

Even though it was a “no beer” night for me, I had a great, nay, better than great, time.

Betunada & the Wombats of the Desert (“old” post — August 2009)


Do YOU ever feel not tired?  Good! (if the answear wuzz yess).  Seems my personal energy-quotient ranges from very very tired to a sort of energy-limbo upon which the shadow from the Tired Tree is soon to be cast.

Sometimes, like a couple Satyrday nights ago, I go out of my way and lock on, acquire, a goodly dose of the fruit of the Tree.  It has been about six months since I pretended to play hockey.  So … the arena had a pick-up game then.  I have been waiting for the first opportunity to actually put on and try out all of my equipment.  Yes, I finally have all (or so I thought * ) of what I need to play goalie — having never worn the “upper” protection out on the ice.  I still needed help getting dressed (could not get the jersey on, and had trouble with practically everything else.  Hey!  It’s been over 6 months since I did this goalie thing).  Also, there was a sort of lame-accomplishment-pioneer (?) aspect –>  I think I’m the first over-60-year-old to be a goalie there.  (Locally, there are more than just a few excellent 60+ year-olds — but they’re “out” on the ice).

*The other goalie who played, one of the local college team’s G-men, said that I should consider acquiring goalie-breezers.  Goalie breezers?!  Well, I didn’t know until I had played a season-&-a-half that there were goalie skates.  And I might eventually get a real ICE-hockey goalie helmet — though the college guy said he’d GIVE me a spare he doesn’t use anymore.  Hmmm…

Next morning it felt like my left heel had a chipped bone, or a bone bruise.  Really painful to walk.  That, coupled with a nagging knot in my right hamstring, plus the congestion from the flu which takes weeks to finally go away, results in pretty much the physical (let’s NOT start in on the mental) mess which is me.  Sorta normal.

And the pick-up game the following week, a college player gave me some breezers.  Much nicer and newer than Tom’s old ones I’d been using.  And this was yet another game with only one other goalie, a fellow who is also trying out for one of three spots on the college team.  He was not as sure as the fellow last week that he’d be on the team, but after the game I tried to assure him that he would be.

Which is to say:  compared to the previous week, my statistics were much worse.  Last week, at one point I had three times more saves than goals allowed (yes, I know, that in the NHL if your GAA is less than 90% you probably would be kicked down into the minors, and THAT’s against NHL players! — but heck, consider there’s ME and a bunch of local NHL wanna-be’s…).  The last week I was lucky to barely have more saves than goals allowed.  The reason is … the local college team was to begin it’s try-outs real soon after this pick-up game, and I think some of the coaches suggested to new/unknown players that they should participate in tonight’s “pick up.”  The coaches sat in the stands, evaluating.

Enough about me.  You?  Are you basically just waiting to grow older and die?  THAT could be the one-sentence summary of where I’m at.  Oh, I’d like to think I actually aspire to various avenues of continuity, but I’m probably just kidding myself.  Results in the same thing.

(Actually, I don’t really dwell on, or believe the previous paragraph.  But it makes for the frolicking, fun-loving, predictable conversation from me that my work-mates and the occasional social contacts have come to expect.)

Wedding day for the son, Tom, until recently seemingly somewhat far off in the future, has popped up bobbing in the waves about a month from our bow.  The daughter, Rachel,  and her guy Benjamin (together are they “the Rachamin” or “Benchel”?) seem to have settled into their present lives — still planning exotic trips and ventures and ad- and mis-ventures, of course.

I had something happen a little a couple weeks ago which was a first:  I don’t think I have ever had a ‘normal’, ‘adult’, open and sincere conversation with any of my youngest brother’s (and his wife’s) kids.  Well, if I personally am capable of the ‘adult’ flavoring of conversation… never-the-less, the youngest of the three encountered Betty and I in the big-box electronics store.  He initiated contact (Betty said she wouldn’t have recognized him) and we ‘caught up’ on stuff for perhaps 20 or so minutes.  Maybe it was 15.  His girlfriend was real pleasant, too.  I think I’ll start referring to him as his real name.  Maybe he inherited some of the non-prevalent genes and aspects of that side of the bush.

Did I?

Should we talk about work? and yes we should, ’cause, as I have probably stated in prior posts, Betty and I would be having a much more interesting life right now had I not, more-or-less (actually “more”) resumed my prior job.  Serendipitous.  Timely.  Oh, someday we’ll intimately KNOW ‘want’ and ‘deprivation’ (other than the deprivations we suffer from and Lord forgive us ’cause we don’t know it!) and ‘real hunger’.  and thirst.  and sadness.  cheap hangovers.  more sadness.  self-pity.  envy.  coveting the neighbor’s ass (wait!  i already do that!).  well, i don’t really WANT any donkeys.  we had one once.  it was okay.

Work actually is interesting, and a continual challenge.  And, after about 5 months, the commute is getting a little bit … tedious.  It’s like I work 10 or 11 hours a day, but it beats the alternative.  Recent local newspaper headlines said that there’s more than 9% unemployment in River City!

I spend a little time on the job checking personal email and thinking about beer.  Not quite like being home, but I get pulled that way real easily.

So what about Betunada’s wombats?  of the desert, no less.  I don’t make ’em as often as I could, but the average is one or two a month.  The Benchel sent a pixure of a New Zealand wombat.  I should have done a wombat in Mexico (¿ is ‘wombat’ ‘wombat’ in español?).  Instead I made a dead guy in the jungle out of rocks, a hat, and two tennis shoes.  Someone (or something) later came by and dis-assembled it.  Picture available upon request (of the pre-dis-assembled dead guy).  I haven’t really said anything about the wombats, have(n’t) I?

The first wombat I “did” was many years ago.  Betty and I had gone cross-country skiing with a few of our ‘mates and after a while we were separated.  B ‘n me were on our way back to the car when I stopped to survey an open gently-sloped expanse on the hillside across from the ridge we were on.  And so … with Betty surveying from the spot where I initially stood, I skied down and across the valley, making a single-track line on the hillside opposite.  I tracked-out the word “WOMBAT” in the snow, and she would shout out what parts of the word needed more legibility.  I skied back out on the initial under-line and we went home.

That night our ‘mates phoned us and I answered saying “wombat.”  I heard a laugh and whoever called apparently turned to others in the room and said “yes, he did it.”

Gus Rilfillan called a week ago, 10 p.m. wednesday nite.  He said he ‘had to’ call as he was about to attend a Freddie MacGregor concert.  He and I and our families listened to F M many years ago at a Sunsplash Tour on the Hopi Reservation.  Gus took pixures of Freddie and I, and Freddie and my daughter.

Encountering a schoolmate of mine on a routine random desert walkabout a couple Sundays ago:  Betty and I responded, so to speak, to an ad in the real estate portion of the paper and drove out south(east) of Palisade to survey a proposed large-acreage development.  Horse Mountain Ranch.  We figured we had to get the dogs out on a ramble, so the proverbial two birds with one stone, or one truck-drive.  The only other party out there was a guy (and his friend) who was a frequent customer at her store, back in her “store days.”  And he graduated from the same h.s. as I, a year earlier.  I remember him as a drummer in the school band.  We talked and reminisced and he drove back down the road while we walked, me limping ‘cause of the suspected heel-bone spur.

Do you ever feel doomed?  Even slightly?  Seems that for me there’s an almost continual undercurrent of that.  Goes against what I’d think would be/should be whatever I should be integrating from reading the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.  Oh well…  what does “against the day” mean?