The Puck Stops Here

Posted on June 24, 2014 under Storytelling with one comment

The puck stops here



The MacDonald clan has been known to hold grudges for long periods of time.  We still haven’t gotten over the Glencoe Massacre, and that was a mere 322 years ago.  We will avoid a Campbell at all costs unless it comes in a can and can be heated in less than two minutes.  Some would say that we’re just plain poor sports, but I beg to differ.  We may be poor at sports, but otherwise we’re a reasonably cheerful lot.

It’s hard to imagine talking about a winter sport during the dog days of summer.  Mind you, the hockey season drags on so long these days that hockey is a fair topic at just about any time of the year.  And summer still eludes us.

A chance meeting with an old childhood friend rekindled lots of memories.  And not all of them were pleasant.

When we were growing up, our street teemed with humanity as our parents took the baby boom very seriously.  You were never without someone to play with, even if you were a touch weird.  Mind you, looking back, we all seemed a bit off kilter.

We played hopscotch, red rover and tag.  We then advanced to more serious pursuits like baseball, football and hockey.  There was never any trouble rounding up a dozen kids or so and playing a game of softball in the back field.  Different streets in town had similar demographics and were also able to field teams; this produced some incredible rivalries.

Everyone, boys and girls, played street hockey.  When we weren’t on our knees in the living room saying a decade or two of the rosary, we were out on the street pretending we were Rocket Richard.  And our street was a particularly hot bed for street hockey as it was a dead end street … and the mayor lived at the very top with the best view of the action.

And speaking of Mayors, it seems like just about every mayor in the 125 year history of the town has been a Chisholm or a MacDonald.  This fact did not provide a “pass’ when it came to Mayor Chisholm’s children.  If they were going to play with the other kids, they would get their noses dirtied by times.

The Mayor’s eldest daughter was de facto his eldest son … if you ask her.  When it came to the rough stuff, she could give as good as take.  So when the street hockey season ramped up, she could be found right in the thick of things.

Not everyone can be Jean Belliveau or Bobby Orr.  Someone has to play nets and Mary Beth was thrust into the role of Johnny Bower.  She learned very quickly to take shots.  Some of them verbal and some of them launched from the end of a hockey stick.

I think I had a crush on her at the time but then again, young boys have crushes on just about every member of the fairer sex at that age.  I thought I would impress her with my slap shot.  Back then, we weren’t sissies.  None of this soft tennis ball crap.  No, we played with a real puck.  Real pucks hurt even when you’re wearing appropriate gear.  She didn’t have any real equipment, so when my shot came at her at pretty good velocity (about 8 mph!), it struck her in the shin with brutish force, leaving her slumped on the asphalt in tears.

I was taught to be a gentleman, and when a young lady is in distress you’re supposed to ride in on the white stallion and save her.  My offer of a hand and a kind word was met with a scowl, followed quickly by two of the fastest left/right combos ever seen.  She laid a first class beating on me.  Now it was me lying on the pavement with a bloodied lip and a tear forming in the corner of my eye.

We both raced to our respective homes.  She wept as she explained to her father the thuggery of her neighbor.  I wailed as I explained to my mother that the fair haired girl from just up the street had beaten the tar out of me.

And that was the end of it, until just a few days ago when we met to go over details of an upcoming community event.  To the utter amazement of the other people in the room, she lifted her pant leg ever so slightly, to show a small indentation in her shin.

It seems like the MacDonalds aren’t the only clan with long memories.

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