During the first year after meeting my wife, a year held so fondly in my memory, I recall her remarking “you know, that’s one thing that I love about you, you really aren’t into sports at all. It’s so refreshing”. I remember smiling awkwardly and thinking to myself “should I say something here? No, better not. Some secrets are better left secrets.” I just paused and said “I know this great lounge in the lower east side. Let’s go for a drink.”
What I couldn’t bring myself to tell her was that it was the NHL lockout year. And should she stick around, she would have to eventually come to terms with a bit of unhealthy obsession. Islander hockey.
Valentine’s Day is my least favorite of all the holidays. When I was single, it was depressing. And now that I’m married, I always feel pressure to live up to Hallmark expectations. At my office on Thursday I saw several guys scribbling feverishly on cards as single people walked around an office replete with floral arrangements and teddy bears adorned with red ribbons. The holiday reminds me of “couples only” dances at weddings. I sometimes feel we could do without them both.
That said, the holiday stirred up some amusing anecdotes from the past few years of my life as I have traveled the road that few brave men have traveled before me, the one that intersects relationship drive and hockey boulevard.
This past Saturday as I was watching the Islander game I saw Billy Guerin doing a spot which basically said “If you still haven’t gotten that Valentines Day present for your loved one, the Isles have an idea that will work for you”. They were pushing the Hockey and Heels promotion for Tuesday night’s game vs. the Flyers. I thought to myself “now there’s an idea. What a night out! Honey, come here. I know what we are doing for Valentine’s Day.” Well, we watched the remainder of the game in awkward silence as I thought to myself “how could Billy Guerin steer me so wrong?”
Last year, we introduced a new member into our family, a framed and matted autographed photo of Denis Potvin. “Norris x 3”, it read “78, 78, 79”. I remember the sheer excitement as I walked back from the framing store with the Captain’s photo wrapped in brown wrapping paper. I couldn’t wait to get it up. Perhaps understandably, my wife did not share my enthusiasm. As I raised the photo onto our wall she looked like a Ranger fan watching number 5 being raised to the rafters at MSG. Mental note- future raising of the photo events at my house will likely take place in the closet.
Over the years I’ve subjected my wife to myriad jersey and memorabilia purchases, Islander games against defensive minded teams, and several instances of seemingly random screaming at the television screen. It can be a difficult balance, but we get through it. And for the times when I get a little too crazed during the season, I always remind her “You never know, there maybe be another lockout soon.” And then I promise to take her to that lounge in the lower east side, where we can reminisce about the times when I didn’t care about sports.
Well, maybe with one exception.