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Thursday, June 16, 2005

A cigar can be a cigar

Hi. It's nice to have been thought of, thank you :-)

I've been well. Just busy.

Had a unique episode at hockey Sunday though. The team we were playing against is one I've played against in various incarnations off and on for three years. There are a core group of players on that team who play physical, on the dirty side. I don't have a problem with that, but some of the players on my team do. So, after two periods of being hacked and whacked and slashed and tripped (which the referees didn't call), I asked one girl on the other team (who I knew and who is a new addition to that team), to tell her teammates to please take the aggression down a notch or it's going to start coming back at them.

I guess she went back to her bench and repeated my request, and that was a signal to two of this core group of girls to not calm down but key it up. I play forward, meaning I'm on the offensive part of the team (offensive is probably appropriate on a number of levels if you've ever seen me play). So, I parked myself in front of their goalie, which is part of my job as a forward: assist my team in scoring. Blocking the goalie, distracting her, accomplishes that goal. Their goalie is a big girl. I mean she is a BIG girl: in her goalie equipment she is seriously more than half the width of the net. Which is an asset to their team because she doesn't move very fast and has to use her size as a method of keeping the puck out: we can't score if we're shooting the puck at the Great Wall of Goalie. But I digress.

I parked myself in front of her and knew that beside her was this defenseman who thinks she's hot shit. At the drop of the puck a few seconds earlier I could hear them whispering to each other. Then, my back to the goalie, the goalie promptly cross-checks me in the back (I was not in the crease, the goalie's sanctuary and a no-no to be in). A cross-check, for the uninitiated, is when someone takes their stick from the standard vertical, blade on the ice position, to a horizontal, holding it paralell to the ground, and shoving it into someone. I got that in the back. It's not fun. So I turned around and the two of them were grinning and chuckling. What did I do? I planted my feet and with all my strength (which is considerable), cross-checked her in the chest (she wears about twice the equipment that I do).

She FLIPPED. Started swearing at me and asking me "Do you wanna go?" (meaning do I want to fight). I just laughed. Their defenceman then made a comment to the effect of that what did I think I was doing, being a fat cow. I said "ME? I'M fat? What about your goalie?"

"I'm not talking about the goalie," she said, "I'm talking about you".

This quickly degenerated into a "conversation" where she would tell me how old and fat I am (I'm probably 10 years older than this model of decorum), and I called her a princess who should go home before she broke a nail. She also commented that I should try and lose some weight so I could keep up with the little girls.

That, during the intervening week, has been the one thing that has made me keep perspective on this exchange: I skate as fast as or faster than 80% of players on BOTH teams, so I knew she was just yanking my chain.

Anyway, I got the penalty, because no one saw the goalie hit me and EVERYONE saw me hit the goalie (who, I do take perverse pleasure in, staggered back and almost fell with my hit - I almost single handedly brought down the Great Wall of Goalie). While I was skating to the penalty box, their team was applauding and hooting that I was going. I turned, skating backwards to face them and did a deep theatrical bow. Then, during my 2 minutes in the box, was yelling at the top of my voice to the defenceman "HEY PRINCESS! DON'T MISS THE PUCK AGAIN! A-HA! SHE MISSES IT AGAIN! POOR PRINCESS!". Rob, my coach and dear long-suffering husband, was yelling at me from across the ice "WOULD YOU SHUT UP!" (because I could get more penalties for unsportsmanlike conduct).

But I was wound up and, honestly, I was having fun. Might sound strange to some, but I LOVED it.

Later on this week, I asked Rob how much he thought the episode was BP and how much was me.

He measured his response very well. He had seen Larry King interview Mariette Hartley, Jane Pauley etc talking openly about their bipolar disorder. He said there's been a lot in the media over the last few months talking about BP and other mental illness, including an advertisement on the local radio about CAMH (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health), a place to help people learn to cope.

He said, considering what he knows personally and things that have been said recently, he'd say 5% was BP and the rest was all me, baby. He said I had a gut reaction to an aggressive situation and reacted without thinking. He said that I reacted as a hockey player, not as a person with a mental illness. Sometimes the cigar is just a cigar. I can handle that. While I did enjoy the adrenaline rush of the situation, I am not necessarily proud of my behaviour. Wait. I have to be honest here. I am a little proud. I didn't take any crap and I didn't suck out. Was it something I'd condone in my son? Likely not. But it made sense to me at the time, an emotional time.

And finally, thinking about it, I think one of the reasons I love hockey so much, especially since the time of my diagnosis, is that it helps me get, in small, controlled doses, some of the rush and exhilaration of those manic times. I get to fly by the seat of my pants, and give vent to some of the aggression that used to surface during mania, within a framework of rules. I am penalised for overtly breaking those rules (getting two minutes for cross-checking the goalie being a prime example).

While hockey is not a gentle sport, I love it. I am not a princess, not a delicate flower, and it gives me an hour twice a week to taste that intoxicating rush that is now otherwise denied to me due to medication. Just got to remember to control the temper a little better so I don't penalise my team by losing a player. Safe, controlled, and adrenaline-filled, but still medicated. That's as good as I'll get for a long while and I am satisfied with that.

Blogger BotanicalGirl said...
God I miss watching hockey.

I think you acted like a passionate hockey player, nothing more or less. If it were me, I would have waited til the attention was elsewhere and then cross-checked her just as sneakily as she had done to me. Or 'accidentally' tripped the defensemen into the net. Heh.  

Anonymous Anonymous said...
I'm with Botanical Girl - you need to be a little sneakier. Though Goalie deserved and then some. As for Princess, you have to get her next time you play - the well placed butt of a stick up in the ribcage always works wonders I find.  

Blogger moodymicello said...
I know very little about hockey but I don't think any of your reaction had to do with BP. Seems like a normal reaction to having received the jab in the back. I sure wouldn't have turned and said "Thanks"! Now, maybe your bowing to their fans or yelling when you might get penalized ??? Mainly though, I think you have hit the nail on the head. It's a good substitute for what we all miss and one with boundaries and rules. Glad to know you had some fun and that you're busy. Good to hear from you. You were missed.  

Anonymous Anonymous said...
If you're reaction was a bipolar reaction, I have some Lithium I want to give Darcy Tucker!  

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