I was watching the Flyers LOSE to the Penguins, it was about half way through the second period, I was getting sleepy the way I do when my team is playing badly. I was half asleep when the phone rang. It was my mother. She said “I’m watching this game between Pittsburgh and the Flyers and I think I have to back the Pittsburgh team because the Flyers are beating up on them. The Flyers are bullies.”
There are many things wrong with that statement, but the most important thing about it is I was not in the house with my mother. No, she had turned on a hockey game all by her lonesome. Well, I guess my Dad was around somewhere fiddling with his Blackberry but Mom had made the decision, exercised her free will, to watch a hockey game.
Thanks, NBC. I mean thanks for showing Mom the game even if you also created an unfair bias with your commentary. Something had to be done. Immediately.
I flew off the couch and, without mentioning that I was doing so, set off for Mom’s house. The second period was almost over and the Flyers were stinking it up anyway. I had to go supervise this first-time viewing, point out the Flyers weren’t always this bad and also they are not bullies and Mom should not root for the Penguins. Someone had to point out all the French speakers (I come by my Francophilia honestly) on the Flyers team and not mention the Penguins so that Mom would have a fair basis for comparing the teams.
I pointed out Giroux as soon as I could, telling Mom “that’s Claude,” pronouncing it correctly (Not as “clawed.”)
“Claude who?” Mom asked.
“Giroux,” I said, wondering if she would correct me for not purring the “r” the way you should in French.
She did not, though she looked at me like she might.
“They’re all French Canadian,” she said, “they all have French names but I’m sure they’re not French.”
I said yes, many are Québécois.
“And Eastern European,” she continued.
“Well… there’s Matt Carle.. he’s from the US. And the Sharks have some American players. But yes, they’re mostly Canadian.”
This put me in a bind. I do not keep track of where anyone’s from if they’re North American. I’m a bad American I guess.
This wasn’t the sort of nationalist discussion you hear from people debating the marketability of a “furrin” sport. No, Mom just likes to identify the origins of names.
“That one, is he Czech also, that Voracek?”
I told her yes. “Also” because by now everyone in my family understands the concept of Jagr. Or at least they know about him, even if they don’t quite understand running off to Siberia to see him.
“I think you have to be bloodthirsty to enjoy watching this sport,” she commented after grimacing over some hits.
“Oh no,” I said, “There’s very little blood, and they are meticulous about cleaning it up.”
I don’t think she bought it.
Of the Letang/Rinaldo/Hartnell encounter that resulted in Hartnell’s stick cutting Rinaldo in the face, I tried to tell her that Letang started it.
“He tripped someone, hit him in the knees!”
Damn she’s observant! What happened to “I can’t tell what’s happening, I can’t follow the game, it moves too fast!”
I didn’t know how much information to throw at her. You don’t want to bombard someone all at once. So I tried to wait for her to ask questions, and tried to think of reasons to give her for not liking the Penguins.
It is true, the Penguins have cleaned up their act in impressive fashion. I wouldn’t nominate Cooke for the Masterton Trophy because giving up attempted homicide just doesn’t seem that laudable. Still, he’s been behaved very well this season, who really saw that coming? It tests my policy of redemption and forgiveness. And the way Crosby put a hand on Read’s shoulder after Read wound up underneath Fleury in the net, well, I guess I can’t feel any active antipathy for him anymore. He’s grown up right in front of my eyes.
The camera settled on Crosby on the bench, and Mom said “he looks like he’s 12 years old!”
I explained that hockey players don’t get a lot of sun. She nodded and smiled. I guess she thought I was kidding. Of course they are all very young, I have reached the point where I forget that sometimes, even as I call them bbs.
While we were watching, Dad came over and explained the progress he had made trying to synchronize his Blackberry and his Mac laptop with a cloud storage system. I nodded. I still don’t see the difference between cloud storage and storage space you get to by ftp.
Mom pointed out “You have made progress on something you have tried to do seven times now and I am trying to learn about this game for the first time.” I think this was her way of telling Dad to not interrupt again.
Poor Dad, but he really does need to give up on that damn cloud storage backup system.
I felt compelled after this announcement to volunteer more information about the game. Where do you start? Do you jump in and try to explain icing? Explain each stoppage as it occurs?
“What are they doing now? There’s one down underneath everyone!” She observed when the most noteworthy scrum broke out in the third.
“That’s Hartnell. Remember I was explaining #Hartnelldown?”
Mom thought it wasn’t very nice of people to make fun of him falling down. That took some explaining.
“How many…. parts are there?” Mom asked, not sure what to call the periods. She didn’t say “innings” or “halves.” She likes to be precise with her language. I explained there were three periods unless they go to overtime. I’m not sure if she was asking that simply to educate herself or if she was worried about how much longer the game would go on.
As the camera pulled back from the central pile up, revealing sticks and gloves all over the ice, the spectacle had the same effect on my mother as it did on me years ago. “Oh my God. Oh for God’s sake, ” she scoffed.
She wasn’t disappointed when the Flyers tied the game. I had made my case to the extent that she no longer felt the Penguins were being bullied. A little ways into OT, she asked “why are there only six players out there?”
I explained about the teams playing 4 on 4 during OT, and that each team had someone in the penalty box which only left three for each team.
“Why is that one just standing there?” Mom asked during some fight. She meant Grossman. I explained that it is against the rules to be the third man in, hoping she wouldn’t ask “what if he’s trying to break it up?”
She didn’t, instead she said “There’s a rule about that?” I started telling her “it’s to prevent line brawls…” but she wasn’t listening. She said simply “That’s ridiculous.”
I’m still not clear on which part of it she found ridiculous.
When Hartnell scored in OT, Mom asked first “how did they do that? I want to see it again.” NBC obliged her. After the replay, she pointed at the closeup of Hartnell and said “he scored before, he did very well.”
“I can’t follow the game” my foot.
Just when I had given up recruiting…. I think I might have to get some more game tickets, strike while the iron is hot and get Mom to a game.