Old Time Hockey!
(They brought their fuckin' TOYS with 'em!)
I got Marianne to watch Slap Shot last night in preparation for tonight's game pitting the struggling Bruins against the surging Maple Leafs. She laughed her ass off which confirmed my suspicion that it is, actually a hilarious movie and not just funny to longtime hockey fans.
I was also reminded, upon viewing the movie again, how much I love French Canadian goaltender Denis Lemieux played brilliantly by Yvon Barrette. It's likely that part of the reason I love the character so much is that his speech patterns, the cadence of his words, remind me so much of the way my own French Canadian grandmother used to talk. When asked what cross-checking is, Denis replies by demonstrating and saying, "Oh you never do that. Never, never. You stu-pit if you do that" in the same way that my Memere used to say that something - usually traffic - was "stu-pit." And when Denis is on the phone, demanding to be traded and he yells, "You tell Detroit this is bull-SHIT!" It's exactly the way Memere used to tell my brother and I to stop whining. In fact, Trevor, who's been one of my brother's best friends since they were five, loves to tell the story of when they were both about eight and Memere was taking care of us. Trevor lived about a mile down the road and Kevin was playing at his house. He called Memere who asked him when he'd be home. Kev said, "I think I'm gonna stay here for a little while" to which Memere responded, and Trevor heard her through the phone, "Bull-SHIT you're staying there. Tete de pioche. "
Strange that a vulgar 1977 hockey comedy could make me miss my grandmother, but my family is weird. Heh.
I was also reminded - not that I'd forgotten - just how vulgar hockey players can be. Look, I grew up around my brother and his friends, most of them hockey players. And my family is not what you'd call, "polite." Meaning, we swear at the dinner table. We throw things at the television. My brother and I toss profanity around in front of our parents who don't bat an eyelash and we have a neverending contest determining, as my mother puts it, "Who Can Be The Biggest Asshole?" We're not a delicate bunch. But hockey players, damn.
I did an audio project in college where I had to edit together a bunch of recorded sounds to create a "sense of place." (I don't know. Hippy, dippy liberal arts college). I chose "the penalty box" as my place. So I stuck a recorder on the bench of my brother's hockey team, planning to edit some of the quotes I picked up with snippets from Slap Shot and some of Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir." Great plan. Except that some of the quotes I got included words I'd never heard before and suggestions of positions I don't think were humanly possible. Did I mention my brother and I both went to a private, Catholic high school? The team was called the Saints, for cryin' out loud.
Anyway, the project came out great and I made a copy for my parents to play at the team parent's meeting. Expecting the parents to be somewhat scandalized, I was, in fact surprised when they sat around laughing their asses off and trying to figure out who's son had uttered which profanity. Hockey parents, they're a different breed.
Which brings me back around to Slap Shot. My brother started really getting into hockey when he was about eight or ten. And my dad, eager to encourage Kev's obsession, thought he should watch Slap Shot, forgetting, apparently, that it boasts nudity, profanity and violence really not suitable for an eight-year-old. Five minutes in, he remembered. But, instead of turning it off, my dad just laughed, tried to answer Kev's questions as best he could, and chalked it up to another day in the life of a hockey parent.
All of this is to say, I guess, that hockey fans are a different breed. And if you want to understand them, Slap Shot is worth a rental.
"What did the old man trade for these assholes, a used puck bag?"