Thursday, February 22, 2007

Yesterday's "Hump Day" column: On taking a youngster to the hockey game

Hump Day
Published Wednesday February 21, 2007
Appeared on page D6, Moncton Times & Transcript

Last Saturday, I took my godson to a hockey game for his birthday. He hits the double digits this year - the big 1-0 - and with two season tickets from the office burning a hole in my pocket, I decided to invite him to a game in addition to giving him the usual card containing a bit of cash. A budding NHL'er, he was happy to accept my invitation.

I arrived at his home, beeped the horn and he came running out, excitedly hopping in the back seat. I was a bit surprised. After all, who did he think I was? His bloody chauffeur? I know it's your birthday, kid, but don't get all snooty on me. A bit taken aback, I told him to get in the front seat like a normal human being. He was somewhat surprised, but happily agreed. I was surprised that he was surprised. What's up with that?

So I asked him why he didn't get in the front seat in the first place. He mumbled something along the lines about it being illegal for him to be in the front seat. Something about getting injured by airbags and how kids aren't allowed in the front seat.

Oh great, I've already killed him before we even get out of the stupid driveway. First, my friends think highly enough of me to ask me to be their middle son's godfather, and then I inadvertently try to smother the kid with airbags. I guess I won't be waiting by the mailbox for my "Godfather of the Year" award.

Appalled at my own lack of safety knowledge, I shoo'd him back to the rear seat. So off he went, disappointedly returning from whence he came. He was perfectly happy to sit up front like the big kids - and I did consider letting him stay for a split second as a special birthday treat, but thankfully common sense took over and I decided to do the responsible thing, the thoughts of parental lawsuits dancing merrily in my mind.

This, of course, made me then double-guess my plans to give him matches and firecrackers to play with to keep him occupied during the drive to the arena. "OK, Mom and Dad, there's good news and bad news. The good news is that he didn't get smothered by airbags. The bad news is that I could only find three of the five fingers that blew off after the firecrackers I gave him exploded in his hand." You'd think they'd be happy.

Of course, I'm being silly, but kids are such wimps these days.

I remember when we used to have those rolls of caps that we'd put in toy guns. Better yet, we could also make them go off by scratching them with a fingernail. What's a little gunpowder under your fingernails gonna hurt, eh? At least it wasn't dirt. Hmmm, remembering the smell of those caps brings back memories. They should bottle that stuff.

Anyway, back to my hockey game story. The usual treats were purchased, i.e. french fries, juice, etc. I purchased a 50/50 ticket in the hopes that the winnings would continue to keep me in diamonds and caviar for another week. I desperately wanted a coffee but was too lazy to stand in line. Out of the nearly 5,000 people at the game, I think 4,000 of them were in line for coffee, shaking and cranky for their caffeine fix. In the end, I decided to forego a coffee and enjoy the game stimulant-free.

Despite our team losing, we had a good time. I managed to catch a T-shirt shot into the crowd from an air cannon, an extra bonus for the godson to bring home with him, although the XL size was definitely more suited for his father than for him. Having worked for several years in a marketing and public relations firm, I have more than enough logo-emblazoned T-shirts to last a lifetime and certainly wasn't going to keep it.

One thing I noticed about my godson was that the kid knew practically every person in the arena. OK, so I'm exaggerating . . . but not by much. Oh sure, I said "hello" to a person or two. Well, actually, I think it was just one neighbour. Yikes. OK, now wait. There must have been more than that. Ponders . . . Nope. Only one person! Meanwhile, Little Mr. Junior Networker 2007 is waving to people he knew (both kids and adults alike) and having a grand old time chatting up half the crowd.

On one occasion between periods, he decided that he needed the bathroom, so we left our seats and started to make our way through the large crowd to the restroom area on the other side of the arena.

I could have let him go by himself, but I was in no mood to be interviewed all teary-eyed and panicked on the national news that night about an Amber Alert issued for a little boy kidnapped on his birthday while going to the bathroom at a hockey game - all because his godfather couldn't be bothered to leave the comfort of his seat for the walk to the restrooms. Besides, his parents probably would have been a tad annoyed with me had I lost him. Parents can be so touchy about those things. "Don't lose my kid! Don't get him killed!" Blah blah blah. Hey, you've got two spares! Sheesh. Relax!

Anyway, we're walking to the bathroom and these two kids start walking with us. I asked my godson who they were and they were friends of his from school. And then he stops to talk to other people he knows - parents of a friend. And then he waves at more people from school. And he knows the guy shooting the T-shirts into the crowd, too.

So here I am with a 10-year-old kid who knew more people than I did. I guess I'd better start getting out a bit more and maybe not spend so much time in front of the computer working on my blog.

Ah, wait! After many years of resisting the temptation, his parents just got the Internet at home. No need to worry, then. My godson will soon be a computer addict just like his godfather and the only people he'll know will be on chat.

At least then I won't feel so socially inadequate taking him to hockey games.


Carol said...

Excellent texte Brian. J'adoooooooooooooore.

Brian Cormier said...

Merci, Carol! T'as du bon goût! haha! (Translation: Thanks, Carol! You have good taste! haha!)