Monday, March 23, 2009

The Cornfield Chronicles

Well, it's been awhile (again) but that's because I've been traveling all over the midwest with reckless abandon. My hockey season is over as we lost in our league championship game over in Iowa and that prevented us from qualifying for the national championship tournament in Boston. It really hurt because if our kids had won or tied one more game in the regular season, we'd be packing our bags for Beantown on Wednesday. But because we gave it away during the regular season, we had to win a round-robin playoff tournament with St Louis, Peoria, and Dubuque. Well, to quote Meatloaf “two out of three ain't bad”... We beat Peoria and St Louis but couldn't get by Dubuque. So Dubuque goes to Boston... oh yippee... I'm so tickled to death... not! A Dubuque fan was so happy and came up to me not realizing that I was with Toledo and said “Isn't this great?” I was polite, but droll and said “yeah, I think I'll go wet my pants now.”
Now the easy thing to do would be say bad things about Dubuque, Iowa because I've never liked the town or the area for a wide variety of reasons. But this time around, I came across a Dubuque fan who just warmed my heart and made me smile. This kid looked to be around 12 or 13 years old. He appeared to be a very innocent (as in naive), soft spoken and gentile. My first thought was maybe special needs but I didn't want to seem judging. But boy did he loved his Dubuque team. But he came out to the early game on the first day of the tournament to see Toledo play Peoria in the afternoon. This kid, reached out his hand and touched the glove of one of our bruiser types, Brandon. Brandon is 6 foot 3, 200 lb rugged defenseman, who loves to intimidate, and drop the gloves and scrap. Well, after our game. The kid runs into Brandon in the concession lobby and the kid was just in total awe. He looks up at Brandon and asks him his name. Brandon is not the type to converse politely for a long period of time. But for some reason, this kid has Brandon's complete attention. I think Brandon realized that he was dealing with an innocent child so he couldn't just rip a bunch of expletives to try and be funny. So he chatted with this kid for a while and ends up befriending the boy. The boy brings his game program for Brandon to autograph. Now here's where I love hockey so much more than any other sport. The people involved in the game are just so different than Basketball, Baseball, and Football. Hockey is not just a sport, but the people involved know how different it is than the other big three. We love those sports too, but for some reason, hockey has it's own distinct culture. But for a lot of the people, it's a lifestyle. It's a big part of their lives, not just a hobby. Kind of like how Soccer fans around the world that get passionate during the season. Anyway, back to Brandon. This kid asks for Brandon's autograph and Brandon says “give me a minute”. Brandon takes the kid's program into the locker room and has the entire team (including staff... meaning me), autograph this kid's program. He takes it back out but the kid had left. So Brandon gives the program to me and asks me to hold it till either one of us see this kid again. Brandon sees him later asks me for the program and gives it to the kid and you would've thought he gave him a million dollars. The kid's face lights up. So while a bunch of our players were in the stands watching the Dubuque – St Louis game, the kid comes over and starts talking to our guys who razz him a little because he's a Dubuque fan, but were overall, good to him and treated him with kid gloves. So, when they were getting up to leave, the kid walks over to Brandon, like he's his new best friend, and says, “I'll be cheering for you guys tomorrow when you play St Louis.” Brandon in true fashion chirps “okay but just don't wear that $&*#%### Dubuque jersey to our game okay?” The other players laugh. The kid says “yeah but I don't have a Cherokee shirt”. So the players talk one of our fans into doing something amazing. The fan gives up her game worn jersey, and the players autograph it, and the next day, they present it to the kid to keep and wear during Toledo's game against St Louis. The kid just lit up like you wouldn't believe. Of course the same night when Dubuque played Peoria, he went back to his Dubuque jersey... but we couldn't fault him for that. And then the capper... after the championship game when we lost to Dubuque, the players packed their gear for the final time and headed out to the bus for the long ride home. Some of the players, still in tears over losing, were hugging family and friends and taking a few pictures for posterity. After all the celebrating by the Dubuque fans inside the rink, this precious kid comes outside to the Toledo bus and is shaking hands and then starts giving big hugs to Brandon and the rest of the team. As much as the trip home sucked, I'll never forget this kid or how our team embraced a supposed “opponent”. It just made me feel so good that when those that rag on hockey players sometimes calling them cement heads because hockey can be such a violent sport sometimes, stories like the one I wrote about here happen often without anyone noticing it. But I witnessed this one and I wanted to write about it and say thanks to the players... They are what is good about our sport... and they're what is good about human beings.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

It Figures...

Here I am, trying to recover from this nasty cold and coughing up lung oysters and nurse this sore throat back to health because I have to broadcast hockey this weekend on Toledo Sports Radio... Anyway, during this time, I get a text from my sister Terri telling me that my sister Lou is in the hospital having some (minor) surgery and wanted to know if I could check on her. Whaaaat!??? Um, could you at least have let me know that she was going to go in there in the first place. Oh well. Such is life. Anyhow, my youngest sister is texting me from the cafeteria of the hospital that I work at. I'm plopped on the couch, being thankful that my fever broke and that I'm able to breath reasonably again. It goes something like this...

Angie: "Hey, I'm in the cafeteria! where are you"

Me: "I'm home sick on the couch, trying to breathe"

Angie: "I guess that rules out you buying me lunch."

Me: "Ok, um, what's the word on Lou?"

Angie: "Just went back, she'll be able to go home in 2 hours"

Me: "alright, let me know how it goes. nobody in this family let's me know about anything until 6 months after the fact. I didn't know about this until 20 minutes ago."

Angie: "In that case I'll text you in December"

Me: "Merry freakin' Christmas"

I come from a family of whackos... Lou is home and recovering nicely by the way. Not that anybody in my family was willing to volunteer that info right away... ugh... I am just starting to move around and feel a bit better. Still coughing lots but otherwise, I'm feeling better.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Like A Really Bad "Three's Company" Episode

When last I was trying to write and keep up with you all, I was pointing out some great virtues of the gal pal.. I had a bizarre thing happen to me last week and after clearing it with the boss, I figured I'd share it with you guys. So, for Valentine's day, my gal pal gets us tickets for the Kentucky – Georgia college basketball game. This was a nice surprise for me and I looked forward to seeing the tradition rich program of Kentucky basketball and the historic Rupp Arena. So last week was the game. I was feeling like crap with a terrible head cold and sore throat to beat the band. But I wasn't going to miss this. It was important to her, and it was important to me. So I took some Zicam, and headed down to meet her, and her folks for dinner at Applebee's. I chose that place because I had driven by the Rupp Arena exit and saw an Applebee's sign there so I figured it would be easy for everyone to meet there. Of course, I'm not the local and when I got off the exit to head towards the restaurant, I notice that there's no restaurant. What do I find at the address? Applebee's Ball Park, the home of the local minor-league baseball team. So after realizing that I'm a clod and am directionally challenged, I get directions from someone at the ticket office, and call them and get things figured out and meet at an Applebee's that's about 8 miles away. Ugh... once we get there, we have a great time. Since I'm such a wonder at finding places in and around Lexington, we decide to leave my car and we all ride together over to Rupp. Once inside, things were a lot of fun. You could see the rich history of the place. It was very cool. I was sitting with my beloved and trading text messages with my buddy back home. Then during the middle of the game, I get a text that does not have a name on the header, but rather a phone number. I did not recognize it at all. So I shrug my shoulders and show it to my gal pal and say “I dunno who it is” and I proceed to open it in front of her. The message read “I'm heading out of Findlay and wanted to know if you wanted to meet or ? This is Michelle by the way” To which my gal pal looks at me and says “who's Michelle?” I looked at her and said “I have no idea. This must be a wrong number.” So I text this person back and tell her that she must've texted the wrong number. I get a quick text back saying that it was indeed a wrong number and they apologized. I look back up at the gal pal and she's got crocodile tears in her eyes and my heart just flat out sunk. This is a no-win situation if ever there was one. Any person that even knows a little about me knows that I would NEVER cheat on my gal pal or do anything purposely to hurt her. But here I was, because of someone's wrong number, trying to explain to my gal pal that while many of my species are indeed swine and like to “play the field”, that I was strictly a one woman man. I told her if I was that kind of guy that I would never have shown her the text message in the first place. I would've tried to be secretive and hide the message and the phone. She stopped crying and I looked her straight in the eyes and asked her if she trusted me. She said yes and I told her that I trusted her too. After a little while, she came around and realized the truth and told me she was fine and that it just got under her skin and it took her awhile to process it all. So I am trying to continue watching the game and my gal pal lays her head on my shoulder and I never felt such a surge of love go through me as I looked down at her head on my shoulder. I kept stroking her hair and I kissed her forehead because I didn't want to give her my cold. Then I started sneezing and sneezing and sneezing.... she laughed. By the next day, I felt a lot better because we talked about everything and she knows that I'd never ever do such a thing to her... She knows that I adore her. But man, talk about a simple thing that could tear you apart. And you didn't do anything wrong! By the next afternoon, she was feeling better about it than I was. She was trying to console me about It really bothered me a great deal because it was such an innocent thing that could've destroyed a relationship. But I've got a good woman. I spend time every day showing her that I feel that way about her... She laughs about it now. In between sneezes and sniffles. Because as a true sign of my love for her... I gave her my cold. If that doesn't say “I love you”, then I don't know what does...