“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.
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.
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 …
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.
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.