Part I. My Personal Hockey History
Eight years into my quarter-century marriage, my husband left me.
The Man I Married got on the motorcycle we’d driven cross-country together the summer before and drove himself to New Orleans. Which is almost as far as you can get from Seattle yet remain on this continent. To get much farther, he’d have to sell the bike and buy a boat. Believe me, he’s considered it.
On that cross-country motorcycle trip the prior summer, I had insisted that we stop in New Orleans; he insisted that we not. He had no desire to go to New Orleans and it went against our only requirements for the 10,000-mile trip: no cities, no major roads, no planning. But I had a literary passion for the Crescent City and craved the opportunity to fondle the wrought-iron gates through which Lestat and Kate Chopin had passed. We quarreled about whether to stop in New Orleans all the way from Puget Sound to Lake Michigan; from Lake Michigan to the Atlantic Ocean; from the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico. MIM continued to resist the increasing pull as we rumbled back west from Georgia to Florida to Alabama to Mississippi, while the ringing of “Stella!” grew louder in my ears until I could hear nothing else, least of all his protests that I was deviating from everything he held sacred about this trip.
He was reading Sun Tzu and had taken to fits of roadside contemplation in which he posed artfully in leather pants atop boulders and beside brooks, with a pen and a tiny notebook and an increasing amount of facial hair.
I was reading…well, nothing, because there was no room in my saddlebag for a book. Women sometimes have to pack things that take up a significant amount of room but which we cannot go without. I had sacrificed Colleen McCullough for New Freedom. That would be New Freedom from what, exactly? Oh, yeah, from pesky distractions like books.
We went to New Orleans (did you doubt that I would win the argument?), with MIM grumbling the whole way. The hostel was full, and we kept having to ask for directions through bullet-proof glass. MIM grew more and more irate. He anticipated a disaster upon which he would have the divine satisfaction of blaming me.
But then we were directed to a charming hostel-wannabe, where a little black dog made ardent love to MIM’s biker boot. The ancient fluff ball had never had a sexual bone in his body until he smelled the boot that matched him in size and color. And from then on, from sunrise to sunset, that dog humped MIM’s boot: under the breakfast table, out on the brick driveway, up on the old wooden galleries that wrapped around the house. We would listen to the wind rustle through the oak trees, the distant sound of the St. Charles Streetcar, and the creaking of MIM’s boot as the dog mated with it.
MIM fell hard. For the old house, for its dotty proprietress, for the dog Django, for the city itself. Rumor had it that one of the lesser Marsalis brothers lived next door. By the following afternoon, we were riding around clutching real estate listings and maps, looking at sprawling mansions with price tags of $20,000.
Me: “There must be something wrong with a mansion that takes up a city block yet costs less than most cars.”
MIM: “Potential! Potential! Potential!” (He kicked away the used syringes, hoping I hadn’t noticed.)
Four days later, I still had not managed to crowbar MIM out of New Orleans. He wanted to stay. Like, forever. Never complete the bike trip, which would remain a lopsided horseshoe rather than a complete circle on the map of the country. Never go back to Seattle. Never get our stuff or go back to our jobs. Desert our cats. Just, like, go with the flow, man.
We left New Orleans (did you doubt that I would win the argument?), with the caveat that he would try a more adult version of moving to a new city. Which meant getting an internship.
So the following spring, he left me. He drove away to go do some social work thing there. You know, get college credit for tagging along with people who were actually working. Never mind that he wasn’t in college anymore and didn’t need credit. He would be living with the dotty proprietress and her boot-enamored pooch. At least MIM’d be getting some while he was gone. That made one of us.
He quickly met a kindred spirit in a coworker, got drunk, and stayed drunk.
I missed him terribly. I yearned and pined for him. This was all terribly unlike me.
I did the only logical thing:
I turned on the television.
When what to my wondering eyes should appear, but:
I fell hard. I fell fast. I fell irrevocably, like MIM had for the Great Muddy.
This was back in the day when the Fox broadcast television network was trying to bring hockey to the American masses on weekend afternoons. This was an uphill battle, because our great country is accustomed to large objects, like silicone breasts, filling our screens, and we resisted the effort it took to watch a small, difficult-to-track, black rubber disk traveling at a hundred miles per hour while a bunch of toothless guys in a ridiculous amount of padding whacked at it occasionally but mostly whacked at each other. So Fox dumbed hockey down for us (difficult, I know) and fitted the pucks with computer chips, which left comet trails of green or blue or red on the TV screen—the color depended on the speed of the puck—when shots were rocketed cross-ice. In this way, it was hoped that we could at least see what the fuss was about down there on a sheet of glaring ice in absurd places like Florida and Arizona, where hockey in June should frankly be illegal.
I didn’t care one way or the other about the digital comets, because for some weird reason, I got hockey. This Pineapple Head became addicted to a winter sport. My husband was gone. I needed a fix. Hockey beat crack.
Who could possibly miss their husband during a Stanley Cup Game Four that went into three overtime periods, remaining at 0-0 for the equivalent of an entire extra game before one goal clinched the championship? The players were hooked up to intravenous drips during intermissions to replace the fluid they were sweating out. Seriously: baseball? Wimps!
Husband? What husband?
We didn’t have cable, so I would drive to a sports bar up on Highway 99 to watch the games. Yes, that Highway 99. That stretch. Hookers, shootings, drug deals, yeah, whatever. I had a game to watch. Sometimes a dude would join me at my table, but he’d leave me be after I told him to shush a few times. MIM knows just what they felt like.
My husband eventually returned home after his “internship” ended. But he wanted to move back to New Orleans permanently–with me, which is nice–and do some social work thingie down there. He had job leads. I had one condition: if I agreed to move, we would get cable so I could watch hockey.
Imagine living in New Orleans for the ten days of Mardi Gras! But, alas, I had a conflict of interest: the Winter Olympics, where my favorite player was on the Czech team that eventually won the Gold. The Czech uniforms were real pretty, a lovely shade of red with a beautiful crest embroidered on the front. Plus Women’s Hockey debuted that year at the Olympics. Mardi Gras in New Orleans? Pshaw. I had cable. I had hockey games to watch.
This worked out beautifully, since our house filled up with out-of-town friends and friends of friends who came from all over the country to experience Mardi Gras with “locals.” I would load them all into our pickup truck (without seatbelts in the open truck bed, drunk and sitting on each other’s laps, but the important thing is that I was sober). I’d drop them off in the French Quarter, where no parking was to be had in the madness, and drive back home to watch hockey by myself. MIM and Friends were happy for the taxi service, and I was happy to get them all out of the house so as not to make noise while the games were on.
But the social work thingie didn’t work out. Someone threatened to shoot my dog. Oh, and to shoot MIM, too. We moved back to Seattle. MIM bought a boat and started making plans to sail around the world. I got cable.
But it wasn’t long before I stopped watching hockey. I’m not sure why. I suppose because I stopped being lonely—I was no longer home without a husband, or in a new home where I had a husband but knew no one else. Also, Seattle is a super stinky hockey town. Between the Mariners and the Sonics—who left town after making sure their bazillion dollar arena makeover ensured no hockey could be played there, because they didn’t want to have to share, neener neener—nobody talks hockey here. We don’t even have a minor league team.
Also, hockey lost some of its je ne sais quoi when certain mullets were scissored into history.
But when my baseball-fanatic son turned ten, I decided it was time that he be indoctrinated. Time for him to learn that hockey players are vastly superior to baseball players, who sit around and snack on sunflower seeds during games. Disgraceful. Hockey players eat each other’s teeth (and maybe an earlobe or two) if there’s any time for snacking.
So I gave the Little Monster a G-rated hockey history lesson. Following is the Director’s Cut, unedited history lesson:
The Erotica Writer’s Husband & Other Stories by Jennifer D. Munro
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12.5 humorous stories about sex and the sexes. These sensual yet comic stories offer a fresh take on literary erotic fiction, as if Anaïs Nin and Erma Bombeck met at the library to spin tales of laughter and the libido. Collected from the pages of Best American Erotica, Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica, Best Women’s Erotica, Best of Literary Mama, Clean Sheets, Zyzzyva, and others.