Sunday, January 21, 2007

Heavenly Hockey Card

Who is the greatest street hockey player who ever lived? Would even he, or for that matter, she, (har har), know? I may not have been the best, but I have some pretty impressive statistics. And when I die, if God finds me worthy to enter into Heaven, it is my greatest wish to know how I stacked up against all the street hockey players of the world. I hope God meets me with a handshake, a “Well done, good and faithful servant,” and a hockey card with an action shot of me on the front and exhaustive statistics on the back.

I don’t just want to know goals, assists, penalties, shooting percentage, breakaway success rate and the like. If God made the card, and God is omni present, potent and scient, we can expect more. I want to know statistics like how many one-timers I blasted into the net; the velocity of my hardest ever shots; how many times I would have scored if someone had not yelled, “Car!” I would like to see my scoring totals adjusted for unavoidable irregularities like playing with broken sticks or blades worn sliver thin, potholes, puddles, frost heaves and other challenging imperfections to the playing surface, and variant net sizes. I mean how accurate can you be when making nets out of boots, crushed pop cans, bits of litter, broken stick blades etc.? Really, the only consistent street hockey goal I ever used was from a pair of stringed mittens I got for Christmas one year. And I only got them because of my propensity toward losing unattached mittens. And this propensity existed in turn because most of my mittens had, at one time or another, served as street hockey goalposts and had been slushed up, trodden upon, run over by passing cars or even bunched up and used as a ball in an emergency.

Only God could possibly know how many of my shots would have ricocheted off the post and gone in had the post not been a pile of slush, a toque, a rock, or a running shoe, the laces of which had been used to tie rectangular pieces of couch sponge to the shins of a goalie. And only God could fairly adjust my statistics for inequalities in teams or play. For example, what if one side had couch sponge pads for their goalie and the other team’s goalie just had to tie a couple telephone books to his shins? What if there was one player much older and bigger, or much younger and smaller? What if you had to play with a girl because she was somebody’s sister or cousin and somebody wasn’t allowed to play unless she did too? What if one side had a dead end wall or a curb, but the other side had to wear itself out chasing errant balls past their goal and down the street? What if the street was actually not level? And of course, what if one team’s net was larger than the other team’s? Only God knows how this changed the game.

And only God knows about the NON-statistics. Like how many games did I play at the beginning of my career when the older kids wouldn’t pass to me? Even though I was just as good, or maybe better, they cost me a lot of statistics that way. And how many times did I pass to a younger kid, (remembering how I hated not being passed to), or a worse player who blew the goal and cost me the assist? Or how many times did I have an easy goal but I passed to someone to give them the glory? How many times did I pass to the new kid and try to get him involved? How many times had I been captain and picked the new kid? Or picked the crappy player before somebody better than him just to boost his ego? How many times did I have a chance to lie and say I’d scored, but didn’t? Or how many times had I continued playing even though I was absolutely sure I HAD scored a goal? How many times had I moved the net for a passing car, chased a ball down a hill or looked for one in the bushes? How many times could I have hacked, slashed or started a fight, but chose not to? How many times did I break up a fight between two other players? How many times had I agreed to play goalie even though I’m a lousy goalie, I usually can’t score when I’m in net, we were using a frozen ball and I had no cup? How many times had I helped others melt their superblades to get a really sweet curve? How many kids did I teach to tape their sticks? How many thousands of hacks did I take on the shins without complaint? I think God would be most concerned with these non-statistics.

When I think about it, my heavenly hockey card is going to be awfully long. That or it’ll have microscopic printing. Either way it’ll be okay because I’ll have eternity to study it. But I won’t just receive the card. I think it would be almost sacrilege to underestimate the glory of Heaven so. No, I believe after God gives me the handshake, the “Well done, good and faithful servant,” and my heavenly hockey card, He, (or she (har har)), and I will sit down on some comfy chairs, or maybe clouds, get a nice bottle of Molson or ambrosia or pomegranate wine or myrrh, (is myrrh a drink? Is it even a liquid? I never DID know what myrrh was), whatever beverage goes best with hockey watching, and we’ll watch any games we want. From any time past or present. Maybe even future! I could watch the first game I ever played. Wow, that was a long time ago. I wonder how old I was and who I played with. I could watch THE first game ever played! Was it in Canada? Did they use a cow pie instead of a puck? Was it played on a pond? Did they use sticks that they had hewn out of logs themselves? Was it even on ice? Which came first, street hockey or ice hockey? Again, probably only God knows the answer.

I would love to watch the first goal I ever scored. The thrill on my rosy-cheeked face would bring a tear to my eye in Heaven. Could there be a thrill more unimaginably intoxicating than scoring the Stanley Cup winning goal? Perhaps scoring an Olympic gold medal-winning goal. Or maybe everyone feels something similar when they score their first goal. And I’m not talking about Dad or big brother flailing their bodies in mock attempts to stop a shot that only just makes it into the net. I’m talking about playing with peers and scoring a legitimate goal. When was my first? I can’t believe I have forgotten such a momentous occasion. Then again I don’t remember my first breath, my first friend or my first taste of my favourite food.

I could watch one of so many first games I played at many new schools. Invariably I was picked last and used sparingly until the other players noticed my abilities and began to include me in play and even celebrate goals with me.

I could watch the last game I ever played. That’ll be when I’m very old I hope. If I am very lucky, it will be the last thing I do on earth. Dying of a heart attack while playing hockey wouldn’t be so bad. I could watch any game I have ever played! I could watch EVERY game I have ever played! God and I just might do this BEFORE He decides whether or not I am worthy of entry into Heaven. What more would we really need to see?

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