(Never published on Kukla’s Korner because it’s really more about me not knowing what the hell I’m doing than it is about the Sharks. Still, if I am honest I must chronicle the chaos that is this learning experience.)
Saturday, Sept 18, Sharks Training Camp 2011, Day 1
Okay, NOW the gang’s all here. Well, maybe still almost but moreso than before. And that is all I got on Saturday as far as actual Sharks news goes. You could say I had some technical difficulties of the grey matter variety. For actual information about Saturday, I refer you to DP. I mean, that’s where you should always look for news anyway, but I’ll try to do better in the future.
I left the house three times Saturday morning. Forgot my ATM card. Forgot something else, I forget what. Luckily, on a Saturday morning you can make the sat nav ETA run backwards.
I can’t be sure what had my brain all frozen. Maybe it’s like this new little computer, it hasn’t done any of this before so each little step takes a long time. Or I do things in the wrong order, bring a laptop but don’t even think about a voice recorder, or lock my car and leave the window wide open.
Whatever. If you are afraid to look like an idiot, you will never stop being one.
Mostly the folks I encountered were perfectly nice. As like species find each other, I quickly found two other folks new to the event. Not so new as I am, but new to right here, this building, this task. Of course, they already knew how to find the right doors better than I did.
Hey, I never claimed to be an expert at any of this, I don’t even claim to have an aptitude. I’m a writer, but I’m not a journalist. I seek out information and observable matter and respond to it, share it. I go, I see, I hope I remember something other than “ohmygod was it okay to stand there? Wow, that bench looks like a nice hiding place can I crawl in there? I’m in the way I’minthewayI’mintheway! Sosorrysosorry maythegodsstrikemedumb….” Oh, right. Already dumb, but in the wrong way dammit.
I watched the first group skate as usual, that was reassuringly familiar. Then, because it seemed like the thing to do, I followed a new friend to the media room and watched that. I tried to remember to introduce myself even if I felt like hiding behind someone I already met. I guess that’s why I met the new people first, they were doing the same thing I was.
So that little show had a lot of subtext and quiet sounds and I tried to pay attention to what was going on on the ice but I was distracted by stuff like “where am I standing, am I blocking anyone, is my stuff in the way can I pleasecrawlunderthattableplease?” I see a pattern. Okay, FINE, I DO have an impulse to hide. If not under a desk or a bench (really, that last would be a terrible hiding place) then certainly behind a computer screen because when you take the screen away it is just too much sensory input.
Space. There is a lot of space in the dressing room. Big, open, carpeted space that we’ve seen pictures of so I knew what this space was. It was not crowded enough for me. Crowds take away the burden of making decisions like where to go. Like in the St. Petersburg metro, some big Russian guy comes up behind you and lifts you by the waist and shoves you further into the car so you can’t even move your arms and since you are a stranger you don’t mind because now you are squished in and don’t have to decide which rail to hold onto or who to jostle.
You cannot fall, there is no room to fall.
No one picked me up and stashed me where I belonged. (That was never likely. I am not small, that Russian was really strong.) Instead, I was informed:
“You may approach anyone and ask them your questions.”
The kindness of strangers preserved me from the complete meltdown that this information threatened to set off. I could follow someone else around and listen to their questions.
Questions? What am I supposed to ask? I was still trying to figure out where the doors are and how exactly did I end up in the dressing room, at all? If I’d been asked “do you want to go into the dressing room?” I would have said “Why would you let me in there? For someone to trip over? To see how long it takes for my head to explode?” So really the only way to get me in there was, after all, completely by accident. I get it, everyone else knew where we were going but I didn’t. Because I’m an idiot.
As paralyzing first time shocking experiences go, it was fine. I may well have raised the ire of some hockey god by doing things I should not have done but I figure gods either do not care what we do, or they understand when something is unintentional and let us off with a slap on the wrist. (Like several weeks of relentless mortification.)
I don’t remember very well what was said or asked. My phone might. I told my phone to record things. It seemed like the thing to do. Later, it occurred to me that it wouldn’t be right to actually use any of that because they weren’t my questions, therefore I had no right to the answers. (Not a journalist.)
Listened to Havlat answer questions about his shoulder, in pretty much the same way you would expect him to. To paraphrase: “it’ll be ready when it’s ready.”
Listened to Boyle talk about the present urgency the team is working under. Heard him talk about being an older guy and tried not to smile too hard. If hockey player chatter doesn’t make you anorexic it certainly will have you buying a ticket for an ice floe at 40. I mean if you apply it all the way over everything. Like horseradish, you should only apply it to certain things, such as prime rib and pro sports.
Stood between simulcast Murray and Demers interviews which basically caused an unintelligible hum in my head, no fault of theirs.
Listened to Handzus answer a questionnaire that asked about when he started skating and does he play golf and good heavens I hope something more interesting was in there. I mean, I’m glad to know he started skating at 4, hockey at 6, and really it is good news that he’s not much of a golfer, but there were a bunch of pages to that questionnaire so there had to be more than that. Listened in as he was asked questions about his arrival and the reason for the delay and I thought I am so glad I am not a reporter because that is just too many questions about horrible sad events. I would not want to ask them.
In that confusion I was able to not panic about the news that Pickles would not skate due to being “under the weather.” Under normal circumstances, that kind of thing could send me burrowing into all the possible interpretations of that information release, condition and implications thereof. But I was busy trying to not completely panic.
Before the brain came unraveled, I noticed that skaters were scoring a lot during the drills. I found this disturbing. I know, they were only drills, but with so many Sharks goalies not ready to play, I wanted one of these younger guys to jump out at me and say “Never fear, I am here to save the day!” or the preseason, even the beginning of the season. Something. I wanted reassurance in big heaping portions.
I didn’t get that but I did get a hug on the way to my car from someone I met in Sweden last year. I really needed that, so thanks, L.