Sunday, June 08, 2008

Hockey Talk

Okay, this post actually has nothing to do with hockey, really, but it was inspired in part by yesterday’s post. As Mark pointed out in the comments, ice hockey is part of Canada’s cultural identity. It is in parts of the US, too—primarily the coldest parts.

But it turns out I had a brief connection with it, too.

When I was nine (a month short of ten), my parents moved us to another town so my dad could be pastor at a different church. It was a completely different sort of town—far more suburban, mostly much newer, and with more kids my own age.

When you’re nine or ten pretty much nothing is more important than to be accepted by the other kids. These kids were always doing something active, it seemed. It was easy enough to fit in at first: There was a hill behind the house where all the neighbourhood kids went sledding—until it iced over and then they’d slide down without a sled.

There was a toboggan slide in town and, even though my family didn’t own one, I got to go along with some kids. Their families were members of my dad’s church, I think, so they probably had to bring me. At any rate, toboggans were expensive, so my parents couldn’t really buy one.

The local kids were also into ice hockey for a year or two. My parents bought me a hockey stick and ice skates. I’d never had any skates before, and didn’t really know how to use them, but my parents wanted to encourage me, and to help me fit in, so they bought them.

In the end, I don’t think the blades of those skates ever touched ice—well, maybe once. And the stick? Well, the other kids wrapped the blade in black electrical tape, but I didn’t want to do that—I liked the way mine looked with just the black fibreglass mesh on each side. Yep, I was a totally gay kid. The stick served out its days in a wardrobe.

The attraction of ice hockey faded for me after one winter in the new town. I think the other kids were over it about the same time. Skating, sledding and tobogganing also faded quickly, though our getting older probably affected that, too.

What I remember most about that time was how willing I was to try and fit in (up to a point), and how my parents were willing to try and help me do that (as much as they could). In the years that followed, I became less willing to work at fitting in, but my parents’ willingness to help and support never changed.

And that’s what I learned from ice hockey.


d said...

Aw! That is such a lovely story!

Arthur Schenck said...

Thanks. I plan on posting more about memories, their stories and lessons.