na foine ting

Sunday, June 05, 2005
Over at Lorraine a'Malena, there's some discussion about the size of clothes, and sizes available, and how clothing is very often not sized to real people, or the people who'll really be really wearing it, but some ideal of that person.

This made me think of both fire and hockey, and the clothing for both, and how that's all gone in the past.

I dropped by fire administration on Friday to give back the turnouts that have been hanging around the garage for a few years now. For a while I couldn't give them up. Too symbolic.

Like talking to T on the phone the other night. Who said he can't imagine being anything other than a firefighter. Like he doesn't have worth unless he's that thing.

Like somehow I had more worth with a smelly yellow turnout jacket in my garage.

Proof of what? Proof of fucking what? That's what I want to know.

The OES officer was at the front desk when I walked in, and so was the Pub Ed officer. They both watched me walk in. I could tell the Pub Ed officer at least recognized me.

They were talking about staffing an event with volunteers. I recognized the conversation without hearing all of it.

The Pub Ed officer looked over at me.

"Do you have a couple of hours this weekend? You're a volunteer, right?"

For a while I just stood there. Grinning. Like I'd never fucking left.

Finally I chuckled. "Not for three years now."

"Oh," he said. We walked out to my truck. "So where did you get hired?" he asked me. It was a compliment. To assume I was full time paid, now.

"I didn't. I quit," I said, without any of the regret, hesitation or shame I thought I might have. If anything, I was finding something about all this funny. "Just decided I wasn't cut out for it. Didn't want it that badly. I play hockey now instead."

He was quiet while I opened up the Escape and he got the turnout bag out.

"I can carry those in if you want," I said, and he looked at me then, really looked at me. I was offering that old respect. Taking my place, that lower status. I'm supplicant. I'll do the grunt work.

He shook his head. "I've got it," he said, shouldering the red bag. He stood and looked for a minute at my hockey sticks, which I keep in the back of my car. "You should be careful," he told me.

"Hockey's really dangerous," he said.

I stood there.

I stood there and stared at him. I stood there and stared at him in utter disbelief that those words just came out of his mouth.

I wondered if he thought about it. Who I was, how we knew each other, and the assumption he made walking out to the truck.

And what, given all that, what he just said meant.

"I've been playing for three years and I haven't been hurt yet," I told him. Almost gently. Reassuring. With a laugh, with a smile. Since he was genuinely, if so very ironically, concerned.

"Well," he said, "just be careful. We've got two firefighters right now down with hockey related injuries."

"I will," I said seriously. "I will."

He told me to take care, and I told him likewise.

I drove away realizing I was right.

I'd never belonged there, though I could have.

And I laughed all the way home.

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