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ARE YOU KIDDING ME?: Let’s talk hockey-game etiquette

It can be tricky to keep your eyes on the puck when there are distractions off the ice.
It can be tricky to keep your eyes on the puck when there are distractions off the ice. - 123RF Stock Photo

Everyone who knows me knows I’m not a hockey lover. That’s because I tell people constantly. And yet, I am a Cape Breton Screaming Eagles season ticket holder because Hubby likes to go to the games and, for some reason, I have to go with him. He tells me I don’t have to come. Yeah, right. Do I honestly want that guilt hanging around my neck?

So, I sit in the seats and pretend to watch the game. I have to pretend because I have no idea what is going on. It doesn’t matter how many times the rules are explained to me, I don’t get it and I never will. Hockey is like the game of curling or geometry. It just doesn’t make sense.

While everyone else is paying attention to what’s going on at ice level, I watch the humanity around me. I try not to be obvious, but sometimes I’m not successful.

Hubby pokes me in the ribs. “Keep your eyes on the game. The puck could fly up and hit you in the face.”

“Hopefully, I’d be knocked out.”

He ignores me.

What I find fascinating are the people who wander up and down the aisles while the game is going on. There are signs posted warning you against this for good reason. People can’t see the game if you’re in the way. And yet, this is consistently ignored by kids, teenagers, adults, grandmothers and grumpy old men. No one is immune to this behaviour. What does it say about the human race if we can’t comply with one simple instruction?

Everyone seated grumbles to each other when this happens and occasionally someone will point out to the offending party that they’re in the wrong, but all they get for their efforts is a dirty look, like they’re suddenly pond scum. It’s not worth it.

Then, we have the early and late brigade. They always have seats in the middle of the row. They never arrive in time to sit before the game starts. You are comfortably seated and watching the game (not me) and suddenly a family of five hovers by your aisle, looking for the row number, with hats, coats, purses, pop bottles, canteen food and plastic horns draped everywhere. You get up and let them all squeeze by you, before they suddenly realize they are in the wrong aisle and you have to get up again and let them all troop out.

Then, you have the four guys who need to get out of their seats with three minutes left in the first period so they can go get their beer before everyone else. These same guys come back five minutes into the second period and make you stand again. Repeat at the end of the second period and more of the same in the third.

I’m not so miserable that I resent getting out of my seat at all. I do realize I am in an arena and people need to get in and out, but what really gets my goat are the people who don’t give you a nanosecond to get up. They are literally on top of you before you can move, almost shoving you aside.

Listen, people. I am old. I am fat. I have a bit of arthritis in my knees. I haven’t jumped in decades. I need a little time to get this body upright. Some people may be able to move their knees and let you pass, but I’m not one of them. What is so urgent that you can’t wait two extra seconds to escape? And I’m not talking about little kids here. I’ve been trampled by little boys in a frenzy to catch a flying T-shirt and that’s OK. They’re excited. It’s the grouchy-looking dudes who stare at you and say nothing as they push past you. How about an “excuse me” or “thanks” as an acknowledgement that I’m alive?

The one thing I do enjoy about the hockey games are the people who sit around us. After a few years, you get to know the regulars and it’s nice to exchange pleasantries with them. I’m afraid at this point, they all know my difficult relationship with hockey, yet they don’t hold it against me. I get a kick out of how much they seem to enjoy it.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. I don’t mind shoot-outs.

“So, if this guy puts it in the net, we win?”

“Not necessarily.”

See what I mean? Who can understand this game?.

Lesley Crewe is a writer living in, and loving, Cape Breton. These are the meandering musings of a bored housewife whose ungrateful kids left her alone with a retired husband and a fat cat who couldn’t care less. Her 10th novel, Beholden, is in bookstores now.

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