It was only the third or fourth day of my resolve to finish the biography. Again there was a sign, a portent . My return to Canada marked a change in my listening habits – my pod cast listening habits. Rather than listening to NPR’s Fresh Air, now I listen to a Canadian production CBC Ideas. “It is far superior!” said the proud Returning Canadian. Scrolling through the topics one jumped out.: Changing the Idea of Hockey. You must be kidding! The very first piece of work I read of Uncle Dave’s was about a hockey game! Therefore, it seemed in this moment that Uncle Dave was speaking to me, how else could this have happened?
Some background about my relationship to hockey – I hate it! It blared constantly from the television inconveniently located by my bedroom where I was trying to study. No one else in that house was studying as neither my father nor my brothers completed high school. Unceasingly loud and how many times can one endure: “He shoots, he scores!” with the loud yells and screams that followed? My return to Canadian shores brought back those days because, although I do not watch TV, it is often playing in bars and restaurants. I am appalled at the violence – the stupid fighting and punching. This is a conversation that actually took place in a pub/restaurant in Yaletown, Vancouver, British Columbia. A man and his young son were sitting eating, the father was glued to the television set, a hockey game in progress. I spoke as I passed by, on my way out the door.
Me: I hate to see that violence, it is so unnecessary. My uncle was a sportswriter and I am writing a biography. There was not the fighting when he was writing during the 1930’s and 1940’s.
Father: I enjoy the fighting. You are entitled to your opinion – I am entitled to mine.
Me: The only problem with that is that you are raising a young son and you are setting a poor example! And you have no factual information to support your position!
I then stormed out the door, never to return to that restaurant/bar again. I would never again patronize a place that had such insipid patrons. Those were my words, said admittedly in anger. For one thing, idiotic father, it is not opinion – it is fact. It is very important to know the difference. Readers should go back to the blog post of November 13, 2017 where Patrick Moynihan is quoted: “You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.” Listening to the pod cast proved my point. Ken Dryden, an incredibly erudite intelligent man wrote and spoke about the fact that the game has changed in so many ways over the years – not just the violence but forward passing, time off and on the ice, the size of the players, the composition of the hockey sticks. Could Daddy-O in the bar with his kid ever appreciate that? No! Dryden provided a clear example. Gordie Howe is a famed hockey player during the 1950’s and there is something called a Gordie Howe hat trick wherein in one game a player scores a goal, assists and fights. In all of his career, spanning decades Gordie Howe played 2400 games, scored 1100 goals and fought twice (as in two times). I am right you negligent father, you are wrong! Go coach your son in hockey rather than bringing him to a bar! So there! So there! So There!
But my goodness, what is happening to me? The mighty intellectual, the sports hating feminist suddenly become enthralled with hockey? Send in the strait jackets! I fear for my sanity. Uncle Dave is back with me, using all of the forces of heaven and hell. It is time my dear niece, it is time!
But then this happened. I typed hockey into my search engine and came up with something I had written entitled: Why I Can’t Do Hockey. Read it, it is eerie. It had to be written from England because of the reference to the British Museum and therefore, most probably between June 2015 and June 2016.
WHY I CAN’T DO HOCKEY
I can’t do hockey because it takes me back. Back to my childhood, back to my adolescence. Back to a time when I was not seen, not heard, not acknowledged. By my parents, one of whom was hockey obsessed. It blared from the television at every moment. I didn’t so much have a father, I had a televised hockey game. How is a televised hockey game like a father? They fill a tiny house with their loud, boisterous noise over which you have absolutely no ability to control. A presence you cannot ignore. All you can do is turn off your mind. An ability I retain and comes in handy, like yesterday at the London Experience.
Why did I ever try to be something I was not in order to get the recognition I sorely missed? Was it stubbornness? Or was it some innate wisdom that no matter how hard or I what I tried: I would not succeed. That the fault is..in our stars or something like that. So it seem like treachery to try now although I suppose by writing the book that is what I am doing.
I eschew sports, “I am going to be an intellectual!” swore I, on some unconscious level. That I did! I suppose by any measure, but particularly by the measurement of my non academic family.
I cannot approach it as an intellectual exercise, my abhorrence gets in the way. There are some things that I will not make myself do. I am not going to do that to myself I say and then can relax and feel cared for – in marked contrast and in diametric opposition to the feeling of not being seen, not being heard, not being acknowledged.
I have escaped. I cannot go back. I am going to the British Museum today and be in the Japanese haven in the museum – perhaps visit Enlightenment.”
The discovery of my previous writing was so amazing because it shows that I could not ‘do’ hockey then – but now I can. I guess it is because I am in Canada. Dryden said that hockey is the National Theatre of Canada. What an incredible phrase and concept! Dryden’s book Game Change and the man himself is brilliant and so forward thinking. His last comment, speaking of motivation, “When you don’t know you can’t, then maybe you can.” Think about that, it is overwhelming.
It seems clear – I did need to come home to finish this book. I had best now get at it. I can because I don’t know I can’t.