Monday, July 2, 2007

Why I Love Hockey Even Though The Sky Is Falling and Hockey as We Know It In Buffalo Is Forever Gone

I'm going to take a break from being exasperated with Buffalo and move on to the next part in my exciting semi-daily series, WHY I LOVE HOCKEY.

Why I Love Hockey #9 - Girlfriends

I never really had girlfriends growing up. I had friends who were girls, I guess, but I didn't really have that little group of friends that I hung out with on the weekends and did everything with. There were a few different reasons for this. I played on traveling softball teams starting in junior high so I wasn't around for the summer, the time when most teenagers do their socializing. I was a total tomboy so girly things didn't really appeal to me. And quite honestly, i Just didn't like girls. I found boys much easier to spend time with and form relationships with.

Two years ago, I accidentally discovered that Sue, the nurse at my school was a huge Sabres fan. After that, she would often sit at our table during breakfast or lunch and talk hockey with me and Monica, the teacher I worked with at the time, who was also a big hockey fan (though she claims to be a fan of the Sabres AND the Islanders). One morning near the end of the season, Sue decided the three of us should go to a game together and for a while we all said, "Yeah, that would be great" and did nothing. But one day Sue sat down at our table with a schedule and we all agreed on a date to see the Sabres and the Bruins. I think we were all a little nervous about actually doing this. I had been in the same classroom with Monica for a couple of years at that point and I loved working with her and knew we had a lot in common, but we'd never spent time with each other outside of the classroom. And Sue and I had really just moved past the, "Here's Jason for his meds" phase of our relationship.

Well, it's a good thing we went to that game. First of all, the Sabres were in the middle of a seven game losing skid going into the end of the season. We were there to right the ship and after that night they turned things around, went into the postseason on a strong note, and flew through the playoffs until defensemen started losing limbs and stuff. Second of all, and more importantly, we had a freakin' blast yelling at players, cheering our favorites, dancing in the aisles, talking about how the guy next to us looked just like Caesar Romero - we still talk about poor Caesar - and celebrating like 12-year-olds when we got in the jumbotron. We had so much that this past season we went to three games together - four if you count the one just Monica and I went to - and added another co-worker to the crew. Best game of the year? The Ottawa brawl game which featured me jumping up and down and screaming, "Goalie fight! Goalie fight! Oh, my God Marty protect your eyes!" I came home that night, threw open the door, and yelled, "I think I have girlfriends!"

Listen, I like fitting in with the boys. I like jumping into a hockey conversation with something halfway intelligent and having a guy look at me like I suddenly started speaking in Mandarin. But sometimes it's weary trying to convince male fans that yes, I do have a vague notion what I'm talking about. I'm surprised the idiot who had the nerve to look at the Tallinder jersey I was wearing on Sabres Day at the grocery store and say, "Ha! Borrowed the husband's jersey for the day, huh?" didn't file a complaint against me but geez, what an idiot. Part of me understands why boys jump to dumb conclusions - I think hockey is the only sport that actually has a name for air-headed girls who only watch for the cute boys - but sometimes a girl just gets tired of trying to prove herself, you know? It's nice to be able to discuss line combinations AND how handsome said lines are without getting defensive. It's nice to like a player just because he's a good-natured redhead and have someone else nod and totally understand. It's nice to be able to cry about your favorite player leaving without hearing, "Well, you know his production is easily replaceable and he was really overpaid." I don't need answers and solutions! I need sympathy and pats on the back and assurances that Jay McKee will never, ever forget me! Not that I'm thinking of any specific situation or anything.

I hate to be all anti-feminist or whatever but guys and girls are different. We look at the games differently, we see different things, we feel differently about players for different reasons. Thank God for the gang at HLoG. Thank God for the commenters over at Interchangeable Parts. I love my boys and always will, but it's been nice to get the female point-of-view while making some really awesome friends in the process.

(For anyone wondering, I am not in the photo.)


kate said...

Oh Heather, this is such a nice post! I was just trying to talk to a boy the other day about hockey and I got all frustrated because I was trying to censor myself into statbitty boy-speak. I realized that because of the internet, my introduction to hockey has been from a female perspective. Hilariously, I actually think of hockey as a dainty, girlish hobby! Heh, okay, maybe not quite dainty.....

My friend Robin and I have big plans to go to games next year, but of the two of us, I am the hockey expert. Sad, but true. We may need to call on you for your hockey expertise.

Jordi said...

Awww, that is just full on awesome. I think the annoying part of me talking some hockey with guys at the start was how they were just not the kind of people who saw this normally come out from a girl. I do tend to get passionate, so I win most arguments hah.

KMS2 said...

I've actually never felt like I had to prove my hockey knowledge to a guy, but that of course doesn't mean he didn't talk shit about me when I wasn't around.

I have two girlfriends that are huge hockey fans but neither lives near me. Hopefully next season one of my friends will move back into town and we'll be able to do decide which games we want to see based on which guys we want to see!

Meg said...

Heather, I love this post. One of the things I've liked best about finding the kind of online hockey community is finding all these blogs run by, and commented on by, women. Seeing funny, wit-filled, knowledgeable posts and communicating with other female fans has become one of my very favorite things about being a hockey fan.

I think you're absolutely right that women bring a different perspective to the game then men, and it's really nice to see.