Elevator Chit-Chat

For those of us that get into an elevator frequently, there are decisions to be made daily that are perhaps a lot trickier than they look. What do you want your elevator game to be like? Do you want to be that sociable chatty person that acknowledges everyone, and perhaps engages in small talk? Would you rather stare at the door, (or if you’re lucky, some magical piece of information posted on a sheet inside that you can pretend to be really interested in) and be anti-social. Is one better than the other? What does your elevator game say about you as a person? I understand both sides.

My father was a supremely talented small-talker. He never missed an opportunity to engage in conversation with a complete stranger. He thrived on it, and I’m not playing favourites when I say I never saw anyone as good at it. The best part was that he gave no shits whether the person wanted to talk to him or not. It never entered his mind that someone wouldn’t want to talk to him, and he was absolutely charming enough to pull it off even with the toughest of crowds. You’d think the apple wouldn’t fall far from the tree. In a way it doesn’t. I totally CAN talk to strangers too, but when I get into an elevator I want nothing more than for it to be empty. If it’s not empty, I really enjoy walking into an elevator with people who are on their phones or not attempting to engage me in any way. If I can’t have either or those, I’ll take a head nod on the way in, awkward silence until we arrive at the floor, and a polite ‘have a good night’ on the way out. My last choice would be to have someone start chatting me up about something. Unless it’s them telling a quick (really entertaining) story, and me having to come up with a smile and a one-liner at the end, which I can tolerate.

I live on the 6th floor of a Condo building. I used to live on the 5th floor of a Condo building. Coincidence? No. When we picked the floors, I was thinking of two things. One, I’m afraid of heights, and if the shit really hit the fan, I’d like to know that I could tie some bed sheets together and shimmy down some balconies to safety. Two, I hate long elevator rides. Is it the length of the rides themselves that I hate? Or do I hate talking to people in the elevators? A little bit of both.

As a reader, you might be thinking, ‘hey, this guy has a blog, he has lots to say…. why doesn’t he want to talk?’. I do want to talk. Just not to strangers on an elevator. It’s OK though, I tolerate it. There’s one thing I can’t tolerate though (and if you were wondering what prompted me to write this blog, here we go), and that’s someone who starts a conversation in an elevator that they themselves are not interested in. What? Does that actually happen, and more importantly why would it happen? Yes it happens. I don’t know why. It mystifies me, but it does happen periodically, and I can only think that perhaps some people just feel like they SHOULD engage in chit-chat every time they’re in the elevator. Maybe they think it’s impolite not to, or it makes them better people. All of which is fine, but I had a guy the other day start chatting with me, and then when it was my turn to talk, COMPLETELY lost interest in the conversation. Buddy, first of all, I had NO interest in talking to you to begin with, and now here I am, scrambling to say something interesting about the weather, and you’re fading on me???? I live on the 6th floor!!!!!!! It wasn’t a long ride. Focus or fuck off!

To summarize, I think the world has all kinds of people in it. Different people have different elevator etiquette, and that’s OK. I don’t judge anyone, but all I ask is commit to it. You wanna avoid the social awkwardness of neighborly small talk? Me too. You wanna be a Chatty McChattster? Be true to yourself, and annoy all the introverts. BUT…….if you’re gonna try to chat, you better be ready to talk and listen. If I have to take my brain off auto-pilot to have a conversation with you, then finish what you started!


Did I Accidentally Train a Jedi Master?

My son is in Kindergarten. He got to go to his first ‘new-school-friend-birthday party’ today. I got to go as well. Yay for me. There was coffee, pizza and wasps. I enjoyed two thirds of that. This isn’t about me though. Or maybe it is. The party was pretty awesome all things considered, because it was a ‘Star Wars’ themed gathering. My son is pretty into Star Wars (and everything else), and I was too at his age, and I’m old, so I think it’s remarkable that Star Wars is still as relevant today as it was then. Who could have guessed? Neither Farrah Fawcett nor Lee Majors would have guessed that shit.

My son probably became obsessed with Star Wars at the age of 2. He loved Darth Vader. He used to tell me he was my father, like all the time, and he hadn’t even seen the movie, like I have no idea how he knew that line. He was pretty into Stormtroopers as well, but seemed to have no love for Luke Skywalker, and when I was 4, I was all about Luke Skywalker. I was very ‘good over evil’, but it was the 80’s and this is a different time. That said I was a little concerned how drawn to the dark side of the force my son was at such a young age. He seemed a bit like the type that would love to crush the rebellion in one fell swoop (see, I thought it was foul, but I didn’t know whether to spell it foul or fowl, so I googled it, and they were like ‘ACTUALLY…… it was originally FELL’, but that doesn’t sound as good because people I’m sure have been using ‘foul’ for ages now, perhaps in error, and I’m so committed to the line that I’ll just leave it as is, but with an explanation……or I can edit it later, and you’ll never know we had this conversation.) So we would have these light saber duels. He always wanted to do it. They kept getting bigger, and sometimes they weren’t even light sabers, but swords (toy swords of course), or baseball bats, or anything he could pick up and hand me, and he’d say “Let’s fight Daddy”. So we would duel, and he would put on his Darth Vader mask, and hit each other’s swords while he tried to intimidate me by saying all sorts of menacing things in his freaky little bad guy voice. If I had to do it over again I probably should have laid down and played dead at some point so he would think he won, but screw that, man. I’m not letting him win. He thinks he’s just going to defeat me in a battle and then take over the household, no way. So we’ve had a lot of sword fights in the past couple of years. His hand skills are well-developed for a toddler I think.

So today…… a couple of ‘characters’ showed up at this birthday party. The first was a Jedi Master. He was going to train these kids to become Jedi, and had them running and jumping and doing obstacle courses. Parents stood around making awkward conversations with other parents they had just met, but we all nodding in approval like ‘yeah these suckers are gonna sleep tonight!!!’ Then there was light saber training, where each kid would pick up a fake light saber and hit this guy’s light saber a few times. I knew my son would get a kick out of that. Then a guy dressed as Darth Vader came in, and the kids were super excited, and it was a really great kids party I thought. Then….. before the food, but just after Darth Vader had come in, the Jedi Master decides the kids should pit off against one another in light saber battles, and the winner was going to get a prize. Ughhhhh. Before I could get to my son to read him the riot act, he was paired off (with the birthday boy no less) for the first fight. It all happened so fast, like one of those early Mike Tyson fights. Like in the original Star Wars movie, my son was Darth Vader and this kid was the old version of Obi-Wan Kenobi. My son went in on this kid, and I just remember screaming “Not his head, not his head”, and then the kid started crying (maybe more from my screaming than any actual pain… they were fake light sabers), and then my son started crying because his friend was crying….. it was emotional. I was kind of embarrassed, but the birthday boy wasn’t hurt, and moved on pretty quickly, somehow won the prize (which was either always intended for the birthday boy, or given to him out of sympathy.)

It all got smoothed over quickly and we all enjoyed the rest of the party. Soon it was like it never happened, but in the car I could tell my son felt bad about it, and I thought it was a good teaching moment, but then I had to quickly figure out what I wanted the lesson to be. Be gentle?? I guess, but he was ASKED to engage in a light saber battle, and the winner was offered a prize. He tried his hardest to do what he was told to do, and I can’t really fault him for that. I did try to remind him that I’m 5 times his size, so when he hits me with a light saber, it doesn’t do as much damage as when he hits some 40 pound kid, so am I telling him to play down to his competition? Like not try his hardest when competing against someone who isn’t as good (by good I mean specifically at light saber fighting) as him? If he plays sports and he doesn’t try his best because he thinks the other team isn’t good, that will drive me nuts, so I don’t think that’s the lesson. For the purpose of this blog, I’ll say the lesson is ‘Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should’, but I don’t know if a 4-year old can grasp that or not, so I just said ‘keep the light saber away from his head next time.’


I Love To Hear Your Opinions On Music….. Unless They’re Idiotic

I don’t even need to write this. The title says it all, but lets see if I can burn 500 words by giving some context. I was reading an online article titled ’30 Mediocre Songs That Ruin Otherwise Amazing Albums’. It drew me in right away. I’ve seen a million of them. ‘I wonder we have some of the same ones’, I thought. Now this wasn’t a REAL article. It seemed like the results of a social media poll, so there was no guarantee that any of these opinions were going to be worth a pinch of cat shit, but I was curious nonetheless. To their credit, the Twitter masses were able to come up with a few good ones. Like ‘Rocky Raccoon’ being just the dumbest song ever, and a black eye on the otherwise perfect ‘White Album’ by The Beatles. Let’s face it, I didn’t know half the albums either, but I’m not here to talk about stuff that I agree with. That’s not me. That’s not this blog. I’m here to talk about the inexcusable stupidity that I encountered in the rest of the article. I have 3 examples that I just can’t take. Each are obviously just the opinion of one lonely misinformed Twitter survey participator, but I feel I must take them down anyways. Here we go.

1. “How Soon Is Now” by the Smiths apparently ruining the ‘Meat is Murder’ album. Here’s the thing. The opinions of others don’t always matter, and if this person just has a unique way of listening to music (like with cotton in your ears), then it’s always subjective, but MANY would argue that “How Soon Is Now” is the greatest alternative song of the 80’s (all time?). I’m not saying I think that. I’m not saying you have to think that. I know a lot of Smiths fans who don’t really care for that song too much, which I find happens when you are really into a band, you aren’t always going to say that their most popular song is your favorite. That said, it can’t go from being one of the greatest songs ever recorded, to ruining an album for you, that’s just ignorant. That’s just saying dumbass ignorant shit for attention, or to spark a debate (also for attention). Just so I could back up my claim without doing a whole lot of research, I googled ‘Greatest Alternative Songs of the 80s’ and it was the 3rd one listed. I clicked on the first article I saw called ‘The 100 Greatest songs of the 80s’. This list worked it’s way from 100 to 1, and you know what I did? I skipped right to the top 10 because I’m that sure that this song is universally regarded as being that high, that I didn’t even need to view 100 through 10. I was right. It was #2. So how some attention starved hangnail of a person thought that this would be the one thing they would say about this debate, like one of the greatest songs ever, ruined an album for them….. is really beyond me. I like people who are different, and have unique opinions, but this is clearly being different for the sake of being different.

2. “Creep” by Radiohead ruined the album “Pablo Honey” for one person, and their tweet got published, leading me to angry-blog. Oh I know. Nobody likes ‘Creep’ anymore. Revisionist history though. Same theme as above. Let me say this about “Creep”. It was awesome. You might be tired of it. Again, you probably don’t think it’s Radiohead’s best work, and it isn’t, but it was a great song when it came out, and Pablo Honey isn’t even a particularly great album, especially by their standards. Even the band doesn’t like that album. So how did you deem this album (undisputedly the shittiest of all the Radiohead albums) to be so close to perfect, and then choose it’s best song as the moment that ruined it for you? Are you a creep? Are you a weirdo? What the hell are you doing here?? You don’t belong here, ohh ohh….. never mind.

3. “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin as the moment that ruined Led Zeppelin IV. *Sigh*. See, here’s the thing. It’s played out. All of these songs are, and I understand that sometimes when you hear the same song over and over again, you start to hate it for whatever reason, although I would encourage you to stop listening to the radio, because they’re the ones that over play songs. In this day and age with so many options???? Radio sucks. I fall into this trap too sometimes. Every time I go to a wedding I have to hear ‘Dancing Queen’ by ABBA, and after doing that about 7000 times or so, you start to hate it, but it’s not a bad song. It’s just a good song in the hands of a bunch of robots who play music soullessly for a bunch of sloppy drunks so they can pay their rent. I can’t stay mad at them. Getting back to ‘Stairway to Heaven’. Love it, hate it or just sick of it, it’s the one of the most iconic rock songs of all time, which doesn’t make it good, but it IS good by all musical standards, and the world loved it. Too much maybe. So much that there wasn’t a grade 8 dance where they didn’t play that song, and we all had to find a way to awkwardly slow dance (tempo changes and all) for 8 or 9 minutes or however goddamn long that song is, but they played it because it was too great not to play. Now, if someone said they skip that track when they listen to Led Zeppelin IV, I can live with that. Listening to that song is an emotional investment, but don’t tell me it RUINED the album for you, that’s just silly.

In summary, please stop with your desperate attempts to be unique and different at the expense of common sense. Stop with the revisionist history. Stop with the Hipster-style need to dislike things that everybody else likes even though it’s awesome. It just makes you seem insecure and weird. Stop blaming excessive radio play for you disliking a song. It’s not the song’s fault that you listen to the radio instead of taking control of your own music intake. Especially with rampant streaming and illegal downloading. There’s no excuse to listen to the same songs over and over again, and then blaming the song for getting played out. That’s like going to McDonald’s everyday and getting sick of Big Macs, and then saying Big Macs are the worst thing on McDonald’s menu. They are NOT! They are the BEST (and maybe only edible) thing on McDonald’s menu!!!


For My Mom On Her 75th Birthday

Firing up the blog machine for you mom. I wrote lots of sappy blogs about Dad, but none about you. It’s not because I like him better, but he died, and you’re still here. I’ll write sappy blogs about you after you die too, I promise. Maybe one while you can still enjoy it. Couldn’t think of a better way to top up the mediocre gift I’ll be giving you 😉

You brought me into this world (thank you). I was a big baby (sorry). I was the cutest baby of all time (your welcome……and thank you I guess). You were affectionate, so I was affectionate. You had a sunny disposition, so I had a sunny disposition. I wanted to be with you all the time. You were my first best friend. You gave the best hugs, so I gave the best hugs, and now my son gives the best hugs. You made spaghetti a lot because you knew it was my favourite. You made soup a lot even though I hated it and I begged you not to. You never promised me a rose garden. You protected my innocence for as long as you could. You were a softy, even though you’re a tough talker. You made Christmas so much fun even though we kept losing relatives around that time of year, you always kept your head up, and did your best to make that time of year seem magical to your kids. You protected my baseball cards from getting thrown out when Dad tried to impose one of his elaborate punishments. When I was grounded from riding my bike, you would give me the key to get into the shed, as long as I had it put away before Dad got home. Even when you tried to give me beats, you never really hit that hard, so it was usually more funny than anything, except the time you tackled me on the lawn….. that shit was embarrassing. You always encouraged me to do well in school, and when I didn’t, you stopped at nothing to find out why. Hearing tests, psychologists, tudors, the whole package, just to really find out nothing in the end (sorry…. school just wasn’t for me), but you always championed my cause. You taught me to fake it until you make it, and I think I project as a confident adult even if I don’t always feel that way. I used to cry when I was a kid because I felt anxious about growing up. You and Dad always laughed and reassured me that being older is awesome, even though it looked lame as shit to me at the time. I can see that you were right, although most of me still doesn’t want to grow up. When I was a kid, I promised you I would live in a mansion and build you a little house in the backyard (Sorry, it didn’t really go down like that.)

You were a great stay-at-home mom, but when times got tougher, you went back to school and took a job to get the bills paid. I probably acted like a little shit in those days, (but by normal teenager standards, not so bad???). While at school and at work, you managed to start a business creating a day center for elderly people who suffer from Alzheimers disease. You turned it into a fine career, also opening a second location. One of my proudest moments was attending your retirement party, and hearing all the testimonials of how you’d made a difference in so many people’s lives. All of that after you turned 50! I learned that it’s never to late to start doing big things from you.

We’re a lot older now, and a bit crustier, and our dynamic has changed a lot since I was a kid. We’ve both been through so much since then. Now we have new babies to hug and raise up. On your 75th birthday I want you to know that I’ll never forget how loved I felt when I was young, and I credit you and Dad for how incredible I feel my life has been. I’m obviously now making the choices necessary to maintain that, but there’s no way I get to this point without the foundation you laid for me. I hope my son can feel this way as he looks back on his life too. Happy 75th Birthday Mom. You don’t look a day over 29 to me. I’m so glad to be your son. I love you!


A Message To The Soap Dish Manufacturer

I have 2 soap dishes in my condo. One in each shower. Is it still even called a soap dish? Or if it’s installed into the wall like mine, is it now called something else? That’s not actually what I wanted to ask. Let me give some background. I have 2 soap dishes in my condo. One in each shower. Are they fairly attractive and seemingly well installed? Yes. I have no complaints about that. You being the manufacturer wouldn’t have installed them, but rest easy…. I’m sure they were done properly. Really, overall, other than one small detail, I’ve been pretty happy with these soap dishes. They sit there nicely, they don’t rust, and they’ve never fallen apart. I’ll say that much. It really seems like a quality product, other than one very minute detail…… the soap slides off the dish…. every single time. Not occasionally. Not regularly. Always. Slides right off that fucking dish, and if I’m not careful, onto my foot. Not the bottom of my foot that is already suitably punished from standing on my feet for 40 hours a week and playing basketball 2 of those nights as well. It slides off and lands on the top part of my foot which has all those small bones going across with no muscle or fat to protect them. It fuckin hurts when the soap lands on my foot.

Now here’s the thing….. Maybe you figured nobody uses actual bars of soap anymore. I would say that as a soap dish manufacturer, you had to at least respect the fact that some people still did. You didn’t start installing liquid soap containers in my shower, so I’m guessing that bars of soap is still a thing. So how did you think that manufacturing a soap dish which esthetically pleasing as I promise you it is, is fucking angled to let a piece of soap fall off into the shower, and quite possibly onto a vulnerable part of people’s feet?

I try to be a laid back non-judgemental type, but periodically things like this get me upset, and I think I know the reason why this situation in particular is troublesome. Why? Because you had ONE FUCKING JOB! It was to create a soap dish that would provide a safe place for my soap to sit. One function! That’s it! It’s not a Smart-Soap Dish! You can’t check your emails and watch fucking YouTube on it! It’s the old school kind of soap dish that does nothing, and I do mean nothing, other than housing my soap. Not to beleaguer the point, but a soap dish which cannot seem to contain soap is about as useful as a toenail on your shoulder-blade.

I thought I’d spend the last paragraph giving you advice, but who am I kidding? You’ve probably got way more money that I do. You sold these useless fucking things to a builder that put them in every unit in this building, so who am I to sit on my high horse and talk about quality? You’re a quality salesperson if nothing else. You’ve probably made enough money to retire, and I’m busting my ass every day with a bruises on the tops of my feet, so what do I know? That’s the kind of world it is now. The guy who used to decide every week which celebrity ran a shittier fictitious company, is now the leader of the free world, so you should be able to slanty soap dish your way to the top too. I don’t really wish any ill on you because that’s not my style, but if I do find out that you died because you fell in the shower, my first instinct will be to laugh.


How Blogging Is (Nothing) Like Jogging

Blogging and jogging have a lot in common. They also have many differences. That could be said about anything and everything, but anything and everything don’t rhyme. Blogging and jogging have ogging in common. I’ve decided to explore how these two activities are intertwined after I voted down the whole New Year’s ‘I’m gonna blog more often in the new year’ bullshit. I’m smart enough, and honest enough to know that’s not true. Let’s explore jogging and blogging in point form…..

– Jogging doesn’t require jogging pants, but jogging pants are named after the activity of jogging, so if you wore jogging pants while jogging, people wouldn’t look at you funny at all. While blogging, I wear jogging pants periodically, and my blog is also named after jogging pants which is named after jogging, so don’t tell me these are unrelated topics. Little known fact about yours truly???? I seldom wear jogging pants, when jogging or blogging, but don’t tell anyone. I’ve branded myself as someone who wears jogging pants while blogging, and if you tell someone that I actually don’t, I’ll deny it.

– When jogging (I assume…. I don’t fucking jog) sometimes you finish your run, and feel really good about what you’ve accomplished, and that gets you on the right track to enjoying the rest of your day. Other times I would imagine you probably want to quit halfway through and eat a hamburger, and quitting is the only thing that will make you happy, but if you decide to not quit, and see it through to the end, it’s just miserable times until it’s finally over. When blogging, it’s an absolute joy from beginning to end about 15% of the time. The rest of the time you have to grind it out. The difference is I can actually eat a hamburger halfway through, and it doesn’t physically stop me from finishing, but the beef fat that gets into my bloodstream and travels up to my brain makes it challenging to finish, so sometimes I take a nap.

– Joggers will tell you that the act of jogging keeps them in good shape and is great for their physical well-being. Bloggers will tell you that the act of blogging is great exercise for their creativity. Joggers probably won’t tell you that the impact is slowly killing their knees, and bloggers won’t tell you that typing makes them sleepy, and they’d rather be napping.

– Sometimes Nike will do television commercials where people are leading unrealistically awesome lives because they jog at 5 in the morning or torture their body in some other awful way, because they gotta ‘just do it’. Nike doesn’t do blogging commercials because blogging doesn’t sell footwear. I’ve contacted Nike, and offered to wear their jogging pants while I blog. They haven’t responded yet. I think coffee companies could use bloggers in their commercials. Bloggers drink coffee with the best of them. Just picture a commercial where the blogger hits the publish button, and then takes a sip of coffee while all the comments and likes fill up in their inbox while they laugh diabolically. In reality, most of us get about half a dozen likes and maybe one comment from the same supportive relative over and over. Half of these bloggers would way rather hang out in a Starbucks and pretend it’s their living room/office rather than brew their own coffee.

– Jogging is sweaty. Blogging is sweaty if it’s summer and you don’t have A/C. Or if you’ve just been sitting there way too long with no ideas, and your body is rejecting all your bodily fluids, hoping you’ll give this up already, and move onto something more awesome like napping.

– Jogging really sucks when the weather isn’t nice. Hardcore joggers will jog regardless of the weather. Blogging is the opposite in that it really sucks when it’s nice out, and you’d rather be outside. Hardcore bloggers will still blog when they should go out. Blogging is the best when it’s shitty out. Crappy weather, some good ideas, and free time is the ultimate blogging trifecta, and for the 2 days a year that happens, man can I ever write!!!!

– Blogging about jogging is boring. It’s a shitty topic. Blogging about blogging is boring too. I’m guilty of the latter sometimes. Hopefully blogging about jogging and blogging together has not been boring. Either way, I’m going to have a nap.


Hockey Dad

This isn’t about hockey dads. It’s about my dad….. and hockey. My father passed away 4 years ago today. I write a blog about him on this day every year. They started off really sad. Now it’s just random memories that I don’t want to forget. I know my last post was about my dad too, on what would have been his 80th birthday. Apologies to anyone who reads this blog, but I just haven’t been writing lately. I’m sleepy a lot. I like to doze off on the couch more than I like to write. Sad but true lately. Anyways, this isn’t about hockey dads. It’s about my dad….. and hockey. Oh I said that.

I went to the home opener of the Toronto Maple Leafs last night with my sister. The 100th season of the Toronto Maple Leafs, therefore the 100th home opener. It was a lot of fun. They paid tribute to a lot of the former Leaf greats. Players who had been honoured by the team in the past, but never got their numbers retired actually got their numbers retired, so no Maple Leaf player will ever wear those numbers again. Some great names…. Tim Horton (who coffee enthusiasts will know of), Bill Barilko (who Tragically Hip enthusiasts will know of), Ace Bailey (who I believe is my grandmother’s cousin, or something like that…. I should ask my mom to log onto ancestry.com to verify), Johnny Bower (who became a player scout when he was older, and my dad saw him in a half empty arena once, and sent me up to him to ask for his autograph even though I had no idea who he was at the time), Red Kelly (who served as a member of parliament while playing for the Leafs…Whaaaaa???? Did you know that? I just found out yesterday), Darryl Sittler and Borje Salming (who at the very moment I was old enough to start watching and understanding hockey, were basically the only 2 reasons to bother watching Leaf hockey, and more contemporary heroes like Doug Gilmour, Wendel Clark and Mats Sundin, among others. Such a fun presentation. Was totally worth missing a Toronto Blue Jays playoff game for.

But did I in fact miss a Toronto Blue Jays playoff game??? NO I DIDN’T, thanks to technology. What I’m about to say will not surprise anyone that is even the least bit astute when it comes to cell phones and technology, but I watched the game ON MY PHONE!!!! I never gave a shit about tech, but I just got my first iPhone, and stuff that was blowing you guys away 10 years ago is blowing me away right now. I was walking towards the arena with a crystal clear image of the Jays game ON MY PHONE. Like George fucking Jetson, I have arrived in the future!!!!!

Those seats we sat in were my dad’s seats. He was a season ticket holder for like everything. Leafs, Jays, Argos, The Royal Alexandra Theatre for crying out loud. The man loved his season ticket subscriptions. He didn’t go to all the games, but he knew enough people who would share the games with him, so he’d just go to a few, but he got all the season ticket holder perks. Once he was even the ‘season ticket holder of the game’ which is a nice honour for long time seat holders. They toured him around the building, introduced him to the crowd, and gave him a Leafs jersey with his name on the back. My sister was wearing it yesterday.

In the 80’s when times were good, my dad would get 11 pairs of tickets per season for himself. Always fair and equitable, that meant he would rotate who he took to the game. Between my mom, sister and I, it would be a 4-4-3 split. The person who only got the 3 games would get first choice, and would choose a premium opponent. The dream was to see a young Wayne Gretzky with the Edmonton Oilers, or maybe a game against the Montreal Canadians who were great non-division rivals. I always took 4 tickets. I didn’t care who they played. I was there to see the Leafs. A horrible fucking team for most of the 80’s but I (like my father before me) was a optomist, and always believed that they would win, even though their skill level was at a clear disadvantage pretty much every time they laced up their skates. Sometimes my mom would get lazy and just give me one of her games because she didn’t feel like going downtown, so if I played it right, I might have gone to 5 games a year. In 2016, if you want to know how much those particular seats cost for 11 games….. well you’d be well on your way to paying some kid’s college tuition I would think.

I loved EVERY weird part of that experience. From the minute we left the house. Even down to the car we drove. My dad used to work as a Fleet Administrator for a pharmaceutical company, and got a company car as part of the deal. It wasn’t always the same one though. If a different make or model came into the fleet, I suppose it was important for him to ‘test them out’, so you never knew what kind of car he was going to be driving. I loved sitting on the Gardiner in traffic, talking about the Leafs, and getting excited about the game. Parking like a kilometre away from Maple Leaf Gardens to save a couple of bucks, but it allowed for a nice walk in the city, which I otherwise never saw at that age. Walking through Maple Leaf Gardens, and looking at all the black and white photos of all the old Leaf players, and if we had time, stopping to look at each one. He would buy me a program every time, giving me yet another resource to fuel endless amounts of useless hockey information into my brain. We’d go out to our seats, and you could see the haze of cigarette smoke in the upper parts of the facility (I know it sounds disgusting, but I miss that smell). A few times if we got there really early, we might go down to the Gold section and watch the players shoot around. If you were standing in the right spot as they came off and asked the right guy for a hockey puck, you might get one. Now that I think of it, I have no idea how we pulled that off, but my dad was a really likeable guy, and he wasn’t afraid to ask for things. 5 minutes of chatting up an usher could always come in handy. I don’t think that’s why he did it. He just liked talking to people. I think the saying “The world is your oyster” is kind of dumb, but the world absolutely was my dad’s oyster, always. We’d go back up to the Green section to sit in our aisle seats right at center ice. We’d watch the game until the first intermission, and my dad would chat up another usher, always remembering their names and what they had talked about last time. Then if he saw I was getting too bored, he’d try to work me into the conversation. Then we’d watch the 2nd period, and after that was over, we’d go to the concession stand and buy Fruitella candy. So delicious, and I feel like it’s the only place I ever saw it. It might be in every store, but I only ever ate it at a hockey game. By the third period, somehow, the Leafs would always still be in the game. As horrible as this team was, they always played great when we were there. I remember it would drive my dad nuts when people would leave 3 or 4 minutes before the game was over just to beat the rush. We would always stay until the end, and then wait for the 3 stars of the game, and he’d take the heat from my mom if it was a school night. Then the long walk back to the car. At that age it felt cool to be walking around downtown late at night, like I was somewhere I shouldn’t have been. Then the drive home where we’d re-hash the night, or I’d nod off in the car.

It was all fucking perfect somehow. I miss my hockey dad.