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I created 3 new hockey fans by taking the kids to their first ‘Canes game this evening.  To prepare for the evening, I applied little, tiny Hurricane tattoos to each of our faces.  There comes a time, as it turns out, when face tattoos are not a good idea.  The rub-on kind, I mean.  Probably almost never is a good time for a permanent one, unless you’re Mike Tyson.  Let’s just say that when I smiled, my tattoo looked more like the parched land in drought ravaged Sub-Saharan Africa than a moist wind storm.

Our seats were right against the glass behind the Away Team.  At first, I thought these were awesome seats, but unless you like looking at the backs of the coach’s heads, or making your neck stiff watching the Jumbo Screen, I don’t actually recommend them.  Still, any seat is a good seat to watch hockey.

Tonight, the Away Team happened to be the Calgary Flames.  Canadians, in case you did not know, play dirty hockey.  Also, you can smell them through the glass along about the time the game enters an OT shoot out. 

I am happy to report that after roughly 68 minutes of swooshing and slapping and rumbling and grunting and wooooo-ing and argh-ing, the ‘Canes came away victorious with a 6-5 win.  While a playoff game isn’t completely out of the question, I’m probably gonna go ahead and wash off this tattoo.

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Brett Favre, For Example

The purpose of tonight’s blog is not specifically to brag about my evening and make you feel inadequate for the way you spent yours, but unless you skip past the next couple of paragraphs, you’ll never believe me on this point.

ShirtlessRoland scored box seats to the Hurricanes game tonight.  The accommodations were generous, the company was lively, the food and drink were delicious (and did I mention, gratis?)  VIP parking had us 50 feet from the covered entrance (nice touch on a night with wintery-mix falling).  The ‘Canes won (4-2, thanks to a contested, but allowed shot with 4.7 seconds left in the 3rd period).  Somewhere around the 3rd  Yuengling – I mean 2nd period – I realized that through some strange twist, despite having lived in 2 hockey towns on the east coast,  and occasionally having been to games in each of these, the Anaheim Ducks are now the team that I’ve seen play more than any other.  To point out that they’re also the team I’ve seen lose more than any other is perhaps irrelevant.  But it’s a fun fact, just the same.

After the game, Wrapped Up Like a Douche came on the radio on our way to my neighborhood Ale House for the after party.  Oh, you know the song I’m talking about.  It’s by those people you’ve never heard of…. Anyway, in a very curious move, I figure I’d throw out another fun fact for the musical education of ShirtlessRoland.  This is curious because Shirtless Roland grew up in the 60’s and 70’s when all the good music was invented.  I didn’t own a radio until I was 15 (in 1989!).

“Do you know who wrote this song?” I baited.

He immediately pressed the info button on my radio and I informed him that wouldn’t help because that band nobody’s ever heard of didn’t write it.

“Bruce Springsteen,” he guesses.  I mean, I thought he was guessing.

“Oh, so close!” I praised his luck.  “Just a little further east!”

It was dark, but I’ll bet he looked confused.  “Huh?”

“Do you give up?  You’ll never guess!  It was Billy Joel!” 

“Are you sure about that?”

I referenced the line ‘mama always told me not to look into the eyes of the sun but mama, that’s where the fun is’ and the subsequent piano part to bolster my claim.  “That’s just so classic Billy Joel!”

“Really?  I’m very sure Bruce Springsteen wrote this.”

I began to doubt my intel.  Where did I get this nugget of information, anyway?  I couldn’t remember.  Why was I so sure I was right?  Especially against ShirtlessRoland’s assertion?   Maybe I got his name mixed up. As he drove on, I gave in to my doubts and consulted TheGoog on my smartphone. 

“Son of a bitch!”  My language gets saltier with hockey and beer.

“What?” he asks.  Clearly, it took me so long to look up that ShirtlessRoland forgot what was in contest.  Either that or it hadn’t occurred to him that it was still in contest in my mind.

I had to save face and tried to convince ShirtlessRoland that Billy Joel actually used a nom de plume earlier in his career and just imagine the surprise and frustration when this snotty nosed kid out of Jersey showed up on the scene with the same name!  Oh, the confusion and misdirected royalty checks!

I did not engage ShirtlessRoland in any more musical trivia the rest of our drive.  However, while enjoying the live music at the Ale House I tried in vain to convince him how Johnny Cash is like mama’s lasagna and Bob Marley is like mama’s meatloaf.  This is a correlation I will try again to impart when one or both of us has had fewer beers. 

On one TV screen we watched college football.  Ohio played somebody, but I’m not sure and don’t care to what end.  Minnesota was in their first period against Calgary on another screen and both were scoreless.  But Pimp My Ride on another screen ate my attention – until I saw what must have been a biopic on the Packers playing on yet another screen. 

Seeing the great Green and Gold out on the field made me think, of course, of Brett Favre.  Though I’m a die-hard Miami Dolphins fan, which stems from a borderline scary obsession with Dan Marino, I will admit that I also quietly pulled for the Packers.  I didn’t do this because I’m fond of Green Bay, cheese, or anything else Wisconsinian in general, but because I thought Favre was a pretty good guy.  He was inarguably a terrific quarterback.  It was damn near impossible to find anything not to like about the guy.

And then that happened. 

Even through beer goggles (Yuengling on one lens, Guinness on the other), I had the clarity to ponder a very intriguing question:

How does somebody go from being an over-all great guy to a whiney bitch?

I’m not sure if it’s despite or because of those beer goggles, but not too very much pondering was necessary for me to realize this truth:

They don’t.

I’m betting that if you were to go back and ask the Packers – oh, say, circa 2004 – in what ways 2010 Favre resembles the team mate they knew back then, they’d have stories.  They’d be able to recount all the ways that he was a nincompoop, but how they easily overlooked it or saw it as something else because he was a team player.  Maybe he was a martyr.  Maybe he was paranoid.  Maybe he thought the earth revolved around him.  Maybe he was manipulative and grumpy and – well – whiney.  But maybe they dealt with it because, after all, the boy could deliver.  Maybe what we see now is the exact same Favre, just without the winning record.

Or, maybe, I got his name mixed up, too.