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hockey players and poets…

March 12, 2014

It was the Friday before the gold medal Olympic hockey game in Sochi and I was following three eight or nine-year-old boys up the street and they are laughing and playing and smiling and throwing snow balls at each other. There are good-natured insults flying back and forth, with references to alleged homosexual tendencies, immoral mothers, and loose sisters. It’s pretty obvious that when it came to such things, they didn’t have a clue what they were talking about.

They are so wonderfully oblivious to the world around them that they keep walking into lamp posts (literally) and old ladies and even into each other. They talk non-stop as they constantly circle each other, grab each other by the shoulder, and appear to be as high on life as if they were ten-week-old puppies. They were three little rays of sunshine on a cold and cloudy February afternoon.

From a few steps behind, I watched these three amigos walk home arm in arm, so obviously happy to be alive. They really were walking on air and making childhood memories later made glorious in all of us; those youthful sentimental moments made sacred by poets and writers.

I watch them as a woman scolds them for making too much noise, or another instant when they accidently bump a passing adult. I could immediately tell – by the look on their faces – that such lectures are just so much traffic noise to them, just another part of the reality of that magic-time in their day; when they get to walk home together, comrades-in-arms, after a long and tedious day at school.

No one that I can see gives a whit for their happiness or their physical exuberance. They are bumped by a man-on-his-Blackberry and with bulging eyes he admonishes them for their stupidity and tells them to “watch were the fuck they were going!”

But as soon as he turns away they immediately laugh at him an tell each other “to watch the fuck where y0u are going” and giggle and pick up and carry on where they had left off. “Canada is going to win the game, and Sidney Crosby will score the winning goal, again!” one of them says to another. An ice chunk immediately appears between their feet and they are hockey players all! Each excited by thoughts of the big gold medal game. Each of them basking in the boyhood glory of scoring the winning goal.

Until they were again interrupted after their chunk of ice is kicked into the oncoming path of a mother pushing her stroller. The chunk of ice is no where close to causing her any problems, but that didn’t stop her from summarily barking at them to behave themselves and to watch where they were going.

They are respectfully quiet, bow their heads to the new mother, shuffle their feet. I think of little Calvin and how he was always getting into trouble on the way home to see his beloved Hobbes.

The encounter with the mother changes their dispositions and they settle down a bit and begin discussing their teachers and wonder why they are always so angry and boring. And then, out of the blue one of the boys says to the others: “did you know that the word ‘hobo’ means ‘a homeless person’?”

And before the others replied, he went on: “Isn’t ‘hobo’ a great word?”


“It sounds so good, as a word.”

The other boys say nothing in return but in their silence I could see that they were respectful of him. He has made these kinds of observations before, I think to myself.

They have a potential young poet in their midst, and by their quiet reactions, I could see that they don’t always understand what he is dreaming about when he talks of words, and of how they make him feel.

But they are all still friends. Poets and hockey players. Soon they are kicking around another piece of ice. Young pals walking home together and dreaming of words and gold medal games, and scoring that fabulously delirius game winning goal.

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