Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Paticus' Past: Volume 4: It's In the Net !!

First, a word of warning...This could probably be considered a sports post...But WAIT !!! It is so much more, it's about crushing the spirit of an 8th grader...About defeat...But no real redemption...Doesn't that sound enticing ? I knew that it would....Here we go....

To most of you, especially those of you that have ever actually SEEN me, you might not believe that I once excelled in a sport. True, it was for a short time, only a single season, a few months really, but again, if you have ever seen the that is Paticus, even that is a little hard to believe. But it is true.

I was an AMAZING street hockey goalie. Fucking AMAZING, if I may be allowed to toot my own horn a little bit.

I was 13, I think. It was 7th or 8th grade. I'm never good with lining up ages to grades in school, perhaps that's because I didn't graduate high school until I was 26, but that's a tale for another time. This story is about my time at the top of the street hockey goal tending heap. A time, that you will soon learn, was far too brief, and which came to a devastating end.

Now, I won't lie, the main reason I even got to play goalie was because I owned a net and convinced my Dad to buy me some street hockey goalie gear( pads,goalie stick,glove and blocker, mask). Even I didn't know how great I would be(nor how humble).

Now, just in case you are wondering, I was not nearly as FAT then either, so it was not simply a case of me eclipsing the net with my gigantic ass. I actually had SKILLZ, though we were not regularly spelling words with a "z" instead of an "s" for effect yet.

It was a street game, so the official records are spotty, at best. But believe me, I was pretty lights out there for awhile. I was(and still am) a New York Rangers fan, so I of course imagined I was John Davidson there in goal. I remember very little getting past me. They used to call me "The Irish Wall"...Okay, that part's not true, but I sometimes imagined that they would call me that, and man, it was an apt nickname, because nothing got past me.

Of course, all good things must come to an end, and my amazing run as a lights out street hockey goalie came to a devastating end.

But first, a little background.

We played most days after school when we could get enough guys, I would guess probably twice a week, maybe three times. we played in the parking lot of the Presbyterian Church that was across the street from my house. We were quite the crew: There was Mikey and Tommy, Joey Two Times(we called him that because his Mom was married two times), and Phil and Mick the Irish Guys, and Vinnie the Italian, and Karl the Commie, and That Jewish Kid, and Davey the Methodist,and Vladimir the Vague Eastern European Stereotype...Okay, there were none of those people, that was an excerpt of some of the dialogue from my(still unproduced) one man show-"My Ethnic Neighborhood"- I thought it might add some flavor to the story. No ? Okay, let's move on...

I have put it off long enough...It's time to tell you about...The Goal... Let's say it was the Championship Game...We didn't technically have one, but I do think it was the last game of the year...It was pretty cold, and it was dark early, and it was a great game. The score was 2-2, and we had been playing for awhile...An "epic battle" if you will. We decided that we were in overtime, and that the next goal would win it.

My team was pretty well controlling the action, so everything was going on at the other end of the "ice". I was cheering them on, feeling really good about our chances...And then it happened...One of the players on the other team got control of the ball, and fired a shot down the "ice". No problem, he was just clearing it. I would grab it and send it back to my team. Except...

I couldn't see it. He shot it high into the air, so it passed right in front of one of the lights, and I lost it in the light. I looked for it, but I couldn't find it. I waited to hear it hit the ground. Then I heard it hit the ground, next to me....The sickeningly dull thud of cheap plastic on cheap blacktop...Sweet Jesus, it had travelled the length of the "ice" on the fly. I dove towards the sound, glove outstretched, but it was too late, I saw the ball hit the back of the net. It was over. We had lost.

I couldn't move. I couldn't believe it. It was over. How had that happened ?

I was never the same in goal again. My confidence was shot. I played for another year or two, but my heart wasn't in it...I started drinking heavily, and spending time with loose women, and my playing suffered...I was average at best,and that's probably a kind estimate. Stupid ball. Stupid lights. Stupid hockey.

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