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Mild-mannered mom picks up hockey habit
The spirit of the Games

Date published: 3/3/2006

By EDIE GROSS

I'VE KNOWN MY mother for 34 years, and in that time, I can't recall her ever raising her voice.

If she did, I'm sure it was my brother's fault. In any case, though, I can't recall an actual episode.

So you can imagine my alarm last week during the winter Olympics, watching her flail her arms and spew a string of Scandinavian profanities at the TV.

"Björnski nils jørgün jilsæn nagellacksbøërttagningsmedel schmeljindskyn !" she shrieked repeatedly, a phrase that, roughly translated, means, "Dearest, Bjorn, if you don't put that #$%&* puck in the net before this &^!%# power play is over, I'll high-stick it up your $#@&* Nordic nether-regions."

I blame hockey for her profoundly altered state.

Her interest in the sport started off as purely recreational.

My mother, a third-grade teacher, would be at school or at a friend's house and someone would offer her a ticket.

To be social, she'd accept, accompanying said friend to a hockey game.

She liked the way it made her feel--the euphoria that accompanied every home-team goal, the surge of adrenaline every time the popcorn guy would haul his wares up to her seating area.

At first, she was using spare tickets only on weekends, staying out late on Saturday nights and spending Sundays trying to get her voice back.

Then she began experimenting with partial-season passes, blowing her 9 p.m. curfew to attend Tampa Bay Lightning games on a Tuesday night.

Sadly, hockey was just the gateway drug. She started popping Tums 'round the clock to cope with the acid indigestion generated by playoff games and Ice Palace nachos.

By the time the Lightning won the Stanley Cup in 2004, she wasn't even trying to hide her addiction, skipping work to stand on a street corner near the airport so she could welcome the team home after its Game 7 victory over Calgary.

She managed to get off the junk briefly when the 2004-05 National Hockey League season was canceled due to a labor dispute over whether players should be required to maintain a minimum number of teeth while participating in the NHL.

But her withdrawal symptoms were severe. She benched my father indefinitely after he put his foot down and refused to buy her a Zamboni.


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