Last year, during the cusp of the rainy season, I woke up with patriotic anticipation. I left my bamboo husk bed and went into the computer room of my beach front bungalow in Phuket, Thailand. I turned on the fan to distil the smell of urinal cakes from the room. Years prior I had learned the hard way, that ants love warm little boxes… like computer towers. I also learned that urinal cakes and moth balls inside these boxes keep the bugs away yet emanate the rankest of smells. I then, like every other day in Thailand, went downstairs and made myself a muesli, mango and coconut yogurt breakfast. By the time I re-entered my computer room my adrenaline had escalated. The sun beamed through my soft blue Indian sari curtains and I tried to savour the build up. Today was the day the Flames were to win the Stanley Cup.
It had been a long time since I had paid any attention to hockey. After a game or two on visits to my parents, I realised that all of a sudden the players are hot. PRESTO I liked the sport again. (This is the same reason I bought the first 50 cent album as well.) Thank god my hormones chose the season which my home team made it to the finals. It launched me right back into the sport, gigantic pointed sponge finger and all.
I managed to get my dial up modem (28.8kbps) to receive ESPN’s live broadcast of the final game. I called my dearest friend here, who happens to be from Blackie Alberta, to switch on her computer. We listened and conversed over messenger services. Just like the good ol’ days where the whole family sat around the radio, only this was on teak rather then bear skin and through the internet….. hmmmm. There were a lot of sentimental notes about the strength of the Canadian accent once you had been gone for a while and the comedic importance put on Tim Horton’s coffee. Yes, yes I know. It is now a cultural icon. We even distribute our money through this establishment, however when I left Calgary ten years ago it was just the only place that was open to get coffee prior to an out of town hockey game. I suppose that, in itself, is why it is so popular now.. Although I find my families chanting of “going to Timmies for a double double” grating. I love my Timbits.
Here we sat, my friend and I, in two separate locations on a tropical island, waiting, praying, hoping. I had this secret knowledge the Flames were going to win The Cup. I had the same feeling in 89 when I cried tears of joy while running out of my parents Calgary home, face painted yellow and red, arms in the air, full of more happiness and pride then I had ever experienced.
Then my friend broke the news. They scored.
*Wait. Who scored? Are you kidding?
I listened to my computer speakers in desperation.
*WHO SCORED? I typed frantically.
My computer had a 30 second delay and when the announcement finally was shared I felt this shift of absolute disappointment. I called my family back in Canada for some very expensive condolences and then called my buddy here to sulk.
There are many things that change over time and alter in importance. Things I identified myself as culturally. Many of the obvious Canadian-isms (saying sorry all the time, wearing a flag on my clothing when I travel, having to own 10 pieces of MEC clothing) have slipped away over time but hockey hasn’t. From the days of my dad flooding our back yard and tying on double blades to our shoes as soon as we could stand, to being the constant goalie in street games, hockey has been something that stays with me everywhere I go. I don't really even like it. It's just life. It's part of me. Even on dial up. Even in the jungle