I’ve never been into team sports. The irony of that statement looms large over the rest of this blog entry, because now my life revolves around a team sport played by someone else. But the truth is that all my favorite physical activities can be accomplished by individuals. Yoga, running, hiking, swimming. Bowling, darts, Solitaire. Sleeping, snacking, gum-chewing. I don’t like the pressure of team sports, I don’t like the politics. I don’t like the schedule or the mass nudity which inevitably leads to mass taunting.
Dave, on the other hand, loves team sports. Baseball, hockey, soccer. Football, badminton, Red-Rover. He loves the pressure, the group misery and elation, and the pranks.
I grew up in northern Michigan, and therefore I had a requisite amount of love for hockey bred into my DNA. I spent Friday nights sitting on the steps of the rink watching hockey with my sister and sampling Lip Smackers. I knew the names of the Red Wings as was required. But deep down I didn’t care. Hockey was a local cultural event, a social outlet in a small town. But winning and/or losing meant little to me.
Dave, on the other hand, loves hockey like he loves salted peanuts (that’s a lot). He knows facts and figures that no human should be able to retain. His life has always, in some way or another, revolved around his own hockey and the hockey of his nation. Winning may not mean everything, but it means a lot.
I love Dave, and by default must love hockey. I sit in a freezing (seriously, it’s foot-numbing) rink every week to watch his love played out, I travel around the world, live without my complete shoe collection, and suffer through most of my days without my sister. I care about winning but only because when Dave and his teammates work their hardest but lose anyway, I hate thinking of them marching heavy hearted back into that stinky, damp, incredibly smelly locker room. I mean really, that place smells like a foot soaked in armpit warmed up in a microwave with a rotten egg. That’s no place to feel sad. I participate in superstition and make sacrifices to the Hockey Gods and eat more pasta than is ever natural outside of Italy.
But everyone has their limits, and I’ve met mine this evening. Because not only do I spend more time than I’d ever like to admit talking about, watching and rehashing hockey games, but I also suffer through every sports-themed movie ever made. If I ever want him to watch ‘Love Actually’ and ‘Chocolat’ on multiple occasions, I have to suffer through ‘Miracle’ and ‘Remember the Titans’ and ‘Goal’. Tonight, to my dismay and Dave’s great joy, ‘Any Given Sunday’ (it’s a football movie people, he’s not even American and yet he somehow relates) is showing on our only English movie channel. And since I have the internet and a few good books I’d like to get through, it shouldn’t be that hard to ignore the oddly artistic yet classically cheesy bottom-to-top screenplay. But I’m sitting next to a man who finds inspiration and metaphor in all sport scenarios. Every three seconds he taps me and says “Do you hear this!?” “That is SO true.” “Pacino, man, Pacino.” And then, to ice this annoying cake, he literally mouthed along with the entire locker room monologue as if he were auditioning for the part himself. His favorite part has something to do with ‘clawing with your fingernails’ to make the difference between ‘winning and losing’ which is apparently equated with ‘living and dying.’
Is it not bad enough I have to pretend to love one sport, but now I must be subjected to non-hockey related sports symbolism on my nights off?