The Hockey Game

soundtrack

(dedicated to all fathers)

A few months before I turn nine, I find Dad home on an early Saturday afternoon. That’s weird cuz he usually has sports and stuff when he’s not working or running errands or on business trips or on his way to deliver milk.

Even weirder – he’s looking for me! He wants to take me somewhere in the house. My pulse starts to race cuz this kinda thing never happens to me. My father wants to hang out with me – spend some time. It’s like the Children’s Wish Foundation. Does this mean I have leukaemia?

He takes me down the basement into his small trophy room, past the shelves of plastic Dollarama-style trophies honoring his accomplishments in the golf, hockey, baseball and pingpong fields.

Next to his hero den, he has a hockey net and two sticks all set up. He pushes a stick in my hand while beaming a proud smile like Mother Teresa, and asks me to take a shot on him while he plays nets. I take a weakling, girly shot at him, and he lets it easily slide in for a goal.

“Nice shot. What’s your name again?”

This is bonding or something, so he lets me get a few more shots in. Feels like I’m improving. I can already control the stick a bit better than 60 seconds ago. I think this might be…

And then it’s over. The phone rings, and he’s gone like a summer hailstorm. Saved by the bell.

It turns out that my three minutes of fathering was inspired by a ten-minute speech from a guidance counselor at my school the night before. At a Parent-Teacher Night, Mr. Pendergast told my mother: “Qatzel fears guys his own age and older. He has virtually no male-bonding skills.” And that’s how I got my one hockey game in with the old man.

Looking back, I think that guidance counselor really made a difference in my dad’s life.

The next day, my sister and I played Barbies and imagined a big, happy world made up entirely of fashion designers and hairdressers. And that’s how I became the Steel City Fruit.

(Note. Any resemblance to real human beings is unintentional. This story – like other Steel City Fruit stories – is purely fictional.)

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