Being as how it’s Monday, I’m kind of stinky and in a slightly reflective mood. Mostly because I’m tired. Because Monday is hockey day.
Once upon a time, the geology graduate students got together to play hockey; in an unsurprising piece of nomenclature this was called ‘grad hockey.’ Many of them were quite skilled so it was at a fairly high level for a pick-up game. Knowing how such things work it was inevitable that it would grow beyond the initial group. For example, a certain person named after an ice-covered houseplant joined the group while ‘trying’ to write a thesis and proceeded to bring the average quality of the game down by some measurable percentage.
Time passed. Grad students and the various hangers-on came and went and eventually grad hockey became a bit unwieldy, the presence of barely competent woody perennials became too prevalent and grad hockey ‘calved’ — spinning off a group called ‘the hackers’; the relative skill level can be inferred from the name. (The group known as the ‘Gneiss girls’ was different.) Over the years the hackers expanded somewhat and eventually someone (I think it was Dr. Love but I’m not sure) spun off another group which was called the ‘eXtreme hackers’. (Everything with an ‘X’ is better. Everyone knows that.)
The above is, of course, a gross oversimplification but the fact remains that the XHL is, after all these years, still alive. The current membership, of course, is rather different than once it was. There are three roses (one an optometrist and two who aren’t), two talented young ladies (one of whom sometimes wears a skull on her back) some professors (only one sharing a name with a Famous Actor), a teacher/sheep farmer who used to drive a purple truck with the label ENFORCER, at least one economist, at least one epidemiologist and sundry others that I know even less about. (A while back one of the organizers asked me who might have left a sweater in the locker room. I said that it might have been the guy that drives a Subaru. Always useful, me.)
All this means that Monday evening I’m often stinky, exhausted and perhaps a bit contemplative — some would say ‘maudlin and narcissistic.’ Aside from an endless supply of stories that reflect my overall gross ineptitude, I have two small anecdotes.
I am not a prompt person. Or, to put it in a slightly less judgmental fashion, I’m easily distracted by shiny objects or passing simiiformes. So it was unsurprising when, one Monday, I arrived late and the dressing room was full. Not wanting to change in the lobby or on the ice, (no showers there, for one thing) I ‘started’ a second room. Lots of space there; I could spread out all I wanted. As luck would have it, though, I was the last person in the door so no one joined me. After the game I lurched back into ‘my’ room to find that it had been taken over by the group that had the ice after us. This group was mostly seven (plus or minus) year old kids and their parents so I was in the unenviable position of changing and showering amid a crowd of kids (almost uniformly male) and parents (more men than women but some of each). In particular, there was this young (probably half my age or a little more) Muslim mom and her son. She really, REALLY didn’t like sitting in the same room as a stinky, naked older ‘gentleman.’ I couldn’t find it in my heart to care.
Fast forward to last summer. This time I had been prompt enough to arrive in time to find room in a dressing room so there were other players and no disapproving parents. After the game I was doing my usual drool-pant-and-stink routine while conversations flew around me. Young Guy #1 asked Young Guy #2 “Will you be here next week?” YG2 replied “No, I have to go to Alberta for my Dad’s 50th birthday.”
I’m older than their parents. Damn.