So just a warning before we get started here: this post is going to have a higher sucrose level than much of the material you read here at Chez Fred. Complimentary insulin syringes will be distributed after your meal.
Tonight was the annual Seattle Women’s Hockey Club fundraiser. I’ve written about it before…basically, one of The Four Of You was a member of the club a few years ago, said “hey, yeah, I know someone!” when they were tossing around the idea of getting an announcer / host for the event, and I’ve been doing it ever since.
I won’t bore you with the details…suffice it to say we faced a few hurdles before and during the event, we got through them, and nobody noticed that I essentially butchered the first game. (I stumbled through a few announcements. Yeah, I’m human, but I hold myself to a superhuman standard when I do this thing.) And I ended strong, so I was okay with it. But this post isn’t really about that.
I said before that I love seeing these women, and for the most part, sadly, I only see them once a year, at this event. They are fantastic people, they are SO happy I’m there, and I’m pretty sure I could just say “Boondoggle!” repeatedly into the mic for three hours and they would still think I did an awesome job.
Anyhow, after all is said and done and I’ve reminded everyone to Please Drive Home Safely, I generally queue up some music on my laptop, chat it up a little with the on-ice officials I’ve been working with all night (who I actually remembered to publicly thank both BEFORE AND AFTER the two games this year), and just kinda hang out. Everyone in the club is basking in that whole post-event “hey, we actually pulled this thing off!” vibe, and I like that.
But really I’m waiting to see…well, we’ll call her “Lucy.” (For no other reason than it makes the post title pretty much write itself.)
I’m a horrible judge of age and I wouldn’t do that to her anyhow, so let’s just say that Lucy is older than I am and leave it at that. I first met her in 2005, the first year I hosted the event. It was also her first year with the club, and she had explained to me that she’d joined up because she thought it would be a good and different kind of exercise, and that at the time she joined up she couldn’t even skate, but she just absolutely fell in love with the game of hockey once she was around it.
And MAN, did I completely understand where she was coming from. There is just something about being near a hockey game that…satisfies me. I don’t have any other way to explain it, I can’t tell you why, it just IS. And the itch can be scratched with other sports, but never completely. There is an ethereal thing about hockey and its culture that no other sport has.
Anyhow, me and Lucy had a fantastic talk about that, and we realized that we were absolutely kindred spirits in that regard. She didn’t know what It was, either, but she knew It was there, and she knew she was in love with It. And she made it very clear that having me there doing my thing amplified It. She asked if she could have a picture taken with me, and of course I was happy to oblige.
And I left that night awash in the appreciation of a lot of people, but talking to Lucy always stuck with me, because she Really Understood. And The Four Of You know that I’m not exactly a New Agey kind of guy, but there was totally an exchange of positive energy between us that stuck with me for quite a while.
So two years ago, as athletes often are, she was injured and couldn’t play, but we still got to talk a little bit. And she took a year off from the club last year, and I was sad that I didn’t see her name on the roster. So I was totally jazzed when I got my rosters for this year’s event and saw Lucy’s name back on there.
Back to the postgame show: cue up a little Oingo Boingo and Dead Or Alive and whatnot, mill around a little bit, and finally I go back to the scoring box because we’re about to run out of music and I don’t want it picking something at random out of my playlist, because with my luck we’d get Snoop To The Motherfarking Dogg or Kid Motherfarking Rock popping up and a lot of parents with their kids would (justifiably) be pretty motherfarking pissed at me.
And I threw a few more songs into the queue, because there were still a bunch of people milling around (apparently the good people at Pyramid Breweries gave us a LOT of beer), and I looked up, and there was Lucy.
And of course, we get to talking. (She was surprised and thrilled that I remembered the picture from three years before.) Now understand I was still beating myself up a little over the flubs I’d made over the course of the evening. Not a lot, but a little. And she’s looking at me like I’ve turned bright green. “I don’t think you understand,” she says. “I’m sitting there on the bench, and I hear you, and I think “we have a VOICE.” If you’ve made a mistake, we don’t notice. We just know that there’s a VOICE, and that it’s great.”
Wow. If you’ve never had the experience, I strongly recommend having someone say that to you sometime.
I tried a little something new this year: someone (thank Glub for Internet whackjobs) has collected fairly clear recordings of the goal horns of all 30 NHL teams, made simple movies out of them, and posted them on YouTube. (A quick explanation for the hockey-impaired…when the home team scores, most pro teams have a…well, for lack of a better term, a ritual, to get the fans involved in celebrating the goal.) So I worked a little bit of the multimedia magic that I’ve picked up over time, grabbing a few of them and ripping the audio off as MP3’s that my laptop DJ software can fire from the sound effects banks. I thought maybe it would add some big-league flavor to our little community-rink production.
I was a teeny bit worried about the sound quality, so I asked Lucy what she thought of them. And she looked at me again, and just from her look I knew that, at least for her, it had EXACTLY the effect I was going for. And that snowballed into the “kindred spirits” energy-exchange that I was so hoping for. We talked about what it felt like to sit in an empty arena and look at a clean, freshly-Zambonied sheet of ice, and about how it feels to do something you really, really love to do, and do it alongside people who really, really love the small part they are contributing to the overall whole, and about how we still hadn’t figured out what It was, but we still knew It was there and that we could never get enough of It.
And eventually (and always far too soon) it was time to go, and I walked with Lucy out to our respective cars, and we went our separate ways, but that positive vibe, that unique, unexplainable, special love for the game that Lucy absolutely basks in and that I can literally SEE her soaking up when we talk, that stayed with me. And, once again, it’s going to stay with me for a while.
I give her a VOICE. Heady stuff, that.
Can we have female pimpettes at Chez Fred? Yer damn skippy we can. “Lucy,” if you’re reading this, please enjoy your Bishop Don “Magic” Juan Big Pimpin’ Cup: