Yesterday was a funny day. Well, a little funny.
I’ve mentioned before that, although I’m not athletically gifted, I play (play at?) two sports. (At least mostly.) Hockey and curling. These have a few things in common (ice, for example) but the list of differences is rather longer.
One difference is, for lack of a better term, attendance. A curling game is, most of the time, played between two teams of four. All four people play for the entire game (at least usually). Hockey has teams of six (five ‘skaters’ and a goalie) with more on the bench: there are regular substitutions — sometimes by line, sometimes by position, with the frequency of substitutions determined by a lot of things, including the number of people on the bench. What’s the ideal number of people on the bench? Well, it depends on a lot of things. For pick-up hockey, if you had asked me twenty years ago I would probably have said two, maybe three. If you had asked me ten years ago I would have said three, maybe four. Today, I’d ask “how many can you get?” However many you have, though, one fewer or one more is not usually an issue.
Curling is a little different. There are no substitutions (well, occasionally there are, but it’s the exception rather than the rule), all players play for the entire game and (this is one of those things that’s a little unusual) for every shot a team makes, all players have jobs that they have to do. There are never ‘plays’ where one or more team members have nothing to do. Because of this, it’s… undesirable to be a player short.
(Aside: I almost said ‘a man short’. This isn’t just the reflexive gender usage of a closed-minded middle-aged male; if a team of either gender brings an extra player or alternate to a competition, that alternate is often called ‘the fifth man’. It’s not just me.)
Because of this desire to have a full team, there’s often a certain amount of… scurrying when a team is going to be short a player.
This past Sunday morning — early Sunday morning — the phone rang: could I spare Monday afternoon? Yes, I could. (It was early; they could have asked me do dance naked on Main Street and I probably would have agreed. I am not a morning person.) I did have the presence of mind (well, Ms. Rose suggested it. Did I mention I wasn’t a morning person?) to write down the time before I went back to sleep. The next morning (that would be Monday) the phone rang again. Early. Could I spare in just under an hour? I guess so. While I was there, three other people asked me to spare the following Monday. And then again on Tuesday morning, the phone rang (early) again with someone asking me to spare. When I stumbled downstairs there was email waiting for me — asking me to spare. Apparently, my relevant qualifications (a pulse. old.) make me an attractive candidate. Either that or they were scraping the bottom of the barrel and found… me.
Anyway, I had agreed to spare in two games, two games that were almost but not quite back to back. Turns out there was a lot of sweeping — more than I’ve done in over a year — so that by the end of the second game I was exhausted. Which meant that it was time for hockey. Remember how many people I said I preferred to have on the bench? Well, we had one, and in the last five minutes, none. Remember that my goals when playing hockey are ‘don’t barf and don’t hurt yourself.’ I didn’t decorate the ice, but boy was I sore the next morning.
No hurling, though. Score!