One of my favourite things to do in the world, to this day, is to handle a hard orange hockey ball with a light stick with a huge curve on a smooth surface, and fire it a road hockey net. If there’s a goalie in net, I could do that for hours. I’m turning 30 in December, and I could literally do that from now until bedtime tonight if I could find a willing goalie. Especially if there’s a “Now” CD in the boombox, or even better “Jock Jams.”
The problem with the obsession that I had as a kid was that it cost my parents thousands upon thousands in property damage (quite literally). I just couldn’t help myself.
The off-season for ice hockey means one thing: road hockey season. It seems like a fitting time to write my parents an apology.
I’m sorry, Mom and Dad.
I’m sorry I put the road hockey net in front of the garage door so I didn’t have to chase that orange rock of a ball down the hill into the cul-de-sac when I missed the net. I’m sorry I did it even more once the net was so full of holes that, miss or score, the garage door was getting thunked. No amount of fresh netting was fixing that problem.
I’m sorry I did it so much you had to replace that expensive thing, twice, but really, my options were pretty limited.
I tried playing in the garage, but the pucks stuck in the drywall, and you weren’t very fond of that either. Even the ball made sizable dents.
I’m sorry that I used to put your equipment – ladders, shovels, coolers and more – in front of the net so I could practice trying to hit certain spots. I didn’t always succeed at first, and a few things may have gotten damaged. And by “a few things,” I mean “everything I put in net, and everything in the boxes behind the net.” I was just trying to get better.
I didn’t mean to knock over boxes while digging for my ball, but I had to get it back somehow, right? In hindsight, maybe climbing the shelving was a poor decision. I guess I was heavier than I thought.
I’m sorry that, when you could convince me to move the net so there was nothing behind it, I wrecked the hedge we shared with our neighbour by going back and forth through it hundreds of times to retrieve my errant misfires. But logically, it’s not like I’m not going to aim top corner every shot, and that doesn’t leave much room for error. After all, who shoots mid-net?
I didn’t mean to put holes in the basement walls while playing mini-sticks either, but to be honest, if you’re not trying your hardest you’re doing yourself a disservice, and you can respect that, yes? I mean, you did teach me that. I had make that play. At least when we were playing inside, I couldn’t ding up the vehicles in the driveway.
By the way, I feel bad about messing those up too, but I struggled to find a good spot to receive a one-timer pass from, and the tire was only as accurate as I was – that develops passing and shooting. (Sometimes the thin blades got my initial passes airborne – I can’t be faulted there.) And what else are you going to use as a screen when your buddy is in net and doesn’t know you’re shooting? It’s like a free goal. Let’s not pin that part all on me. The cars were in the driveway. Where you play road hockey. Of course they were going to act as boards from time to time.
And yes, the damage I did to myself might have been the most concerning, I know that. I almost impaled myself on my own stick several times, as many kids have done. I lost quarts of blood out of nose (mostly), knees, hands and everywhere else. But you gotta be tough to play hockey, and that helped get me there. I was making progress.
There’s one thing that should always make you feel better: you’re not alone. I’ve seen graveyards of sticks at friends houses. I’ve heard the deflated parents trying to figure out a solution. And let’s be be real here: I’ve seen the basement at the farm where Dad played indoors – there’s damn near no roof left.
So, I’m sorry.
I’d love for this to be the part where I offer financial compensation for the tornado of damage I inflicted on everything you ever owned, but it just can’t be. It can’t be, because I fear that someday I’m going to have a son or daughter of my own who’s going to bring the pain down on my pocketbook the same way I did yours. And have you seen the price of hockey gear these days? There’s no way I don’t have it coming back at me ten-fold. It’s the circle of hockey life.