Arthritis Can Suck It
I didn’t write this. That’s all the introduction you need.
I’m from Australia where my peers loved Aussie rules football and my European family loved soccer… but that’s not why you should hate me.
I’m an ex-ballerina that wrinkles her nose at the barbaric necessity of winners and losers by herds of Neanderthals, or what you call ‘sports’. It’s not as though my audience ever ran outside the theater and beat each other senseless while lighting cars on fire (yes, yes, I know, that’s more basketball than hockey). Well, our beloved Surly put me in my place when he reminded me that I wanted to stomp out my rivals and that placing broken glass in another dancer’s pointe shoes is not just a cliché.
In case you haven’t figured it out yet, I am the fiancé of Surly Jacob. I ran into the back of his car 9 years ago and we’ve been together ever since. At first, I knew very little about hockey but was soon Clockwork Oranged by Surly… I had to watch it, listen to it, and hear about it endlessly. I confess, when the games were suspended for many months back in 2005, I was quite delighted. Yes… hate me ever more.
I reluctantly went to games, wore the stinky jerseys he forced upon me and climbed endless stairs to our peanut gallery seats. I did this on my arthritic worn out knees. I zoned out, mostly. I imagined the players as highly skilled figure skaters. My mind attempted to recognize a choreographic sense and an aesthetic shape in the players’ movements where there was none. None to the balletomane.
When the Kings would score, I realized that it’s wise to stand up and high five everyone around me. Ballerinas are polite. When the Kings won, it was good for me… I’d go home with a happy Surly. Do you guys even realize what I’ve had to endure every time the Kings lost?! I’ve been taking many for the team, the team that was a losing team for the first several years I knew them.
Eventually, after being forced to go to many more games than I cared to but far fewer than Surly gave me credit for attending, I began to understand the game. The rules, plays and positions were drilled into my skull. I started to appreciate the level of difficulty and how incredible these men really were. They were the Baryshnikovs of Hockey. I wanted to see them beyond the heavy jerseys and gear… I imagined their rippling powerful thighs and what kind of training and talent it must take to be who they are. I was beginning to see the passion they shared with one another as they skated in battle as brothers. The fans became a vast and vital hockey spirit glowing around the Kings like their giant, collective aura.
I think I like this game now… I’m listening to it in my car driving away from work. Shit. Well alright then, I like it now, that should be enough. Right? It can’t get better than that for me, the ballerina who turns her nose up at competitive sports. Or so I thought…
If only I had arrived this time last year to the place within myself that found me tonight. If only I had felt the way I did tonight last year when we won the Stanley Cup. If only I could have shared the many moments over the years with Jacob as I did in just one moment last night… the moment, ladies and gentlemen, that changed everything. It’s the very reason I write to you now.
So it’s 7pm and I’m sinking into a sofa at Surly’s dad’s house. I’d just come from work. I’m tired and disgruntled. Surly Dad, Surly Stepmom and Surly Sister are there and the boys are in their Kings jerseys. It’s the third period and I see Handzus playing for the Blackhawks and say “hey there’s an ex-King.” Surly Dad looks at me like “You know that?” A little later I randomly ask “What ever became of Frolov?” Surly Dad is so perplexed. I guess it’s all in there somewhere; Surly clubbed me over the head with it.
There is 14 seconds left in the third period and as you know, the Kings are down 3-2. They are 14 seconds away from being axed from the playoffs. My altruistic side feels doom and gloom for my sweet Surly and how much this will hurt him. My selfish side says “yay! Shave that fucken beard!”
A timeout is called. I go into a trance. I see the team meet and discuss. A couple of players skate out, continuing to converse and nod at each other. I feel overwhelmed with their sense of connectivity. I already know they’ve pulled the Titan, Quick. The overview shows that the puck will be dropped in Chicago’s zone… it will be a desperate scramble.
Or will it? My head swam in slow motion to the possibility that their plan could work. That the one in a million shot would resurrect them. It was like the most beautiful choreography I could ever imagine, for the exact play would have to be perfect without the exact play ever being rehearsed until this moment. I turned to Surly Stepmom and said quietly, “This could be spectacular.” She nodded.
It happened… my eyes became the play itself. The dream unraveled as my reason lost its grasp. My mind imploded while my soul exploded as I birthed a new sun that shone its rays through the screams that escaped my deepest being. The Kings were Royal Knights of my universe and I had not felt this high, ever. The high fives made sense now and my arthritic knees were jumping for the first time in years. I felt euphoria. I felt a joy that resonated through the entire city with my newly found fellow Kings fans. This moment was better than ballet!
It matters not that the Kings lost, for they won a new fan. There will be more Stanley Cups in the future, but more importantly, I will join you all now, in those sacred moments ahead of us which will bind us together with the Kings, forever.
It only took nine years, but I’ve arrived.
I ask that you all show mercy and forgive my ignorance. Forgive me my Aussie football, silly soccer and ballet sins. Please accept me as a humble servant to our Kings. Include me at your round table or at the very least, have me clean up your scraps until I earn my way into the circle.
- Surly Woman XOXO