This is a true story. As captain of the blue team for the second half of the season, I have the privilege of organizing spares when one of the regulars cannot make it. Last night, one of our regulars was unable to make it and I had arranged earlier in the week for spare who, at the last minute phoned to cancel as well because his wife and kids had come down with the flu that afternoon. (“Meaning what?” I asked him but that’s another story).
So, a couple of hours prior to game time, I had to go all old-school and resort to phoning guys on the spare list instead of the email-blast during the day that is so much easier. Several unsuccessful phone calls into the list, I get a guy on the other end and our conversation goes something like this:
Me: “Hi, can you spare for us tonite at 9:00?”
Spare-Wannabe: “Ohhhhhh man, I’m just going out the door to dinner with my wife for our 15th anniversary.”
Me: “Um…ok, so…..you can’t make it then? I mean, I understand this might be a tough sell but….so…you can’t make it then?”
Spare-Wannabe: “Um….no, I don’t think so. You are right. This would be a very tough sell. I’d love to play though and thanks for asking.”
Me: “No worries, I’ll catch you again some other time.”
Spare-Wannabe: “Um…….what time is the game?”
Me: “9:00 PM”
Spare-Wannabe, after a lengthy pause: “Ah….ok then, no, I definitely can’t make it. I was just thinking that if it was the 10:00 game, I might have been able to get back from dinner in time to make it.”
Me: “Got it. May next time. Later.”
As I recounted this story in our dressing room later that night, the one young guy on the team (yes we are allowed to use one young guy if he’s a goalie and we cannot find an old goalie) says “Oh man, that’s a 15th anniversary going on none.” The rest of us chuckled. Young guys are so naive.
You see, the beauty of playing oldtimer is that you are playing with guys who are old and in almost every case, old guys have old wives. Perhaps on a 5th anniversary, a young buck might have wanted nothing more than to hustle home after a dinner out with his date and stay home. At some point in life though, there is the transition where you become an oldtimer and an oldtimer is one who has reasonable expectations about life, hockey and marriage, and, equally important, so does his wife.
An oldtimer is one who can go out for the anniversary dinner and still play the game afterwards. It’s a win-win for him and his mate because after all those years, it isn’t likely he’s gonna get lucky after dinner anyway so he might as well go play. From the point of view of the missus, if he doesn’t have hockey to go after dinner, he’s just going to bother her all night like he was a young buck, so him going to hockey is a nice way for her to finish the evening too.
Now, if the oldtimer scores a couple on such a night, well that’s icing on the ‘ol wedding cake and might just might be worth waking up his better half to tell when he gets home after a pop with the boys. You never know, she might still be proud of his hockey skills after all those years and decide to reward him for keeping his stick on the ice.