na foine ting
Thursday, November 10, 2005
We got a locker room today. We'd been changing next to the ice, which I've done before and I don't mind, it's just cold, that's all. But now we have a locker room, with wood stalls and hooks to hang things on, a nice floor and heat.
Cock and hiney. Cock and hiney everywhere.
I don't know if it's a cultural difference, or maybe Paul let it be known I'm lesbian (half right, anyway). But the game was over and gear and jocks and... well, everything hit the floor, and there it all was.
Whoa. Whoa fuckin' nelly.
Welcome to Boston, Kate.
Brian's advice was good.
I sat on the bench and chanted "into the net" to myself a few dozen times, and watched Rachel warm up. Everyone has talked about her. Reverent tones. Like Radar and Bach, in that M*A*S*H episode. "Ahhhh, Rachel." Sage nod.
I introduced myself to her in the locker room (that was before the sudden cock cornucopia, which Rachel missed), and she smiled and was polite, but when I came out on the ice today she more or less ignored me.
She'd brought her own pucks, and had them arrayed in front of the net. Practicing wristers. Right pocket, left pocket, back, top bar *ping*. Right pocket, left pocket, back, top bar *clang*. Right pocket, left pocket, back --
I kept waiting for her to miss. Once.
Then she backed up two feet and started all over again.
There was a low mist hanging on the ice, and she was bent into it, away from me. I took a cue, and left her and that half of the ice well alone.
Some of the guys came out, and we all skated around in the fog, which was rising now, and there were five of us on one half, and Rachel on the other, and there might as well have been a wall as well as the fog between us.
The best player there, a young guy who wears a motheaten blue jersey and tribal necklace, and skates like a man possessed, grinned widely at me as he came on. He's offered me a lot of opportunites on the ice. Lots of passes, even after I've missed them all. Today he came out and warmed up, and then I happened to look over and catch his glance and a puck sailed my way. Cross ice; a hard, fast pass. Since it wasn't a critical game situation, I caught it easily, handled it once and sent it back, just as hard.
I came up on the net and another guy at the right faceoff circle tapped his stick for my puck. I passed it and continued to the net and forgot to pick up the return pass to shoot. He grinned, shrugged, skated off.
Rachel continued to shoot on the other net, uninterrupted.
Today was different. Short benches, with everyone headed into the holiday tomorrow. No Virginnie, no other women besides me, and Rachel didn't count because apparently she didn't get Donne's memo, or maybe she thought it didn't apply to women.
The mood was a lot more like what I'm used to, and when play started, I got smiles, a joke or two. Good natured ribbing, the kind that makes me know things are OK, I'm OK, it's OK that I'm there.
We played 4 on 4. 4 on 4 on regulation ice, with hands down the fastest skaters I've ever played pickup with. It was brutal. Fast, relentless, brutal. No time to sit, with only two men on the bench. No wind, no air.
Rachel played a detached, perfect game. I watched her and thought, fuck. That's how it looks when you're pro. She wasn't even trying, and no one could touch her anyway.
But the guys weren't all about her. Instead suddenly I was getting barked at and nagged, and for the first time since I started there, guys backed off me.
It used to make me wild. I'd yell something like "don't give me the puck! I won't learn if you baby me!" Or something stupid like that.
Because it is stupid.
These guys are all leagues and leagues beyond me. They've played for Harvard, they've played for MIT, they've played for Canadian juniors teams. They've played for decades. And I've come to learn that the minute I step up and take advantage, they'll notch up the level, baby me a little less. And then again, and again.
And you know what? I get better, in increments, that way.
So today when I got the puck right about the blue line and started chanting "into the net, into the net" to myself, the entire ice full of men (not Rachel, she'd left early without a word to me other than "puck bag, please. And water bottle") started hollering "SKATE, SKATE!" or "take it in!" or "go... wait, what's your name, again?"
A fuck of a time for introductions, but I had a good feeling because time was slowing down. And it wasn't just because the guys were backing off me.
Tomasson got in my way, and I know it was him because my head was up, and I remember the jersey color. And I don't care if he let me get around him, I still kept the puck on the stick and got around him.
I got around Tomasson, I saw the goalie coming over to my side of the net, and kept going left but shot right. No really, I planned the shot. Planned it. Like meant to hit the net meant to hit the empty part of the net planned it.
I fell down.
That was how I first knew I'd gotten it in, because every time I've ever scored when it wasn't mostly an accident, I've fallen down. So I hit the ice and was pretty happy already, because I knew there was a strong chance the puck was in the net. And besides which, then next thing that happened was everybody was celebrating.
Remember how I said how quiet those guys are?
They were loud. They were happy.
Even the goalie was happy.
I was happy.
It didn't matter that maybe, maybe they hadn't pressed me as hard as they might, with the exception of Tomasson giving me something to go around. It didn't matter to them, and it didn't matter to me. They've all been thinking the same thing Brian said. And it came very clear with that goal that they wanted me to go for it, push hard, score.
And I did.
I sucked pretty much the rest of the game. Too tired, and everyone else was tired and the play was starting to get chaotic. But it was still fun.
I crawled home on my lips and after Lili went down for her nap I didn't get out of the recliner for like three hours. Everything hurt.
But it's a good hurt. Good.
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