Happiness is a lid that fits and a puck that flies.

I’ve got a very good friend who, during a bleak time I was enduring not so long ago, gave me some great advice. She said that at the end of each day, she writes down at least one cool/good/great thing that happened that day. It’s so easy to get lost in misery, to only think about the shit. She forced herself to recognise the glimmers of good and write them down, no matter how tenuous.

This post has the opposite problem: I had so much fun tonight, I’m struggling to think of anything negative at all.

Nice problem to have, huh?

It started when I marched into the Icehouse pro shop and demanded my face mask. I bought my helmet something like eight weeks ago, and the facemask has been on order ever since. This has been well annoying because it means I’ve had to wear a rental helmet, which never fit as well as your own carefully-chosen lid. In the photos Mack took of last week’s session, every second shot had me desperately trying to yank the rental helmet out of my eyes (see below).

Rental helmet issues ... now solved

But confronting the pro shop staff about this issue, no matter how much right was on my side, was tricky. I may have mentioned that team members from Melbourne Ice, our local Australian-League team, man the pro shop, so you have to think carefully about getting too huffy in there. Hockey players are known for being handy with their fists. Not a place to pick a fight, right? So today I picked my moment and waited until the guy behind the counter was the smallest on the staff (or, in the words of comedian Jon Bennett: “He’s not short, he’s just always in the distance.”) and a guy who isn’t training with or playing for the Ice because, as well as being a freakishly good hockey player, he plays in a band which is now going so well he’s touring and getting ready to record an album.

So anyway, I worked myself into a self-righteous frenzy, and being much bigger and assertive and all, I stormed in there and said: “Hey, um, sorry … I was just wondering if my facemask has arrived yet? … no biggie. you know. Whatever.”

And he took pity on me and gave me a perspex face mask that has been waiting for some woman’s helmet to arrive. (He also warned me that everybody would laugh at me because wearing a full-face plastic mask is “very European”, whatever that means. Nobody did … to my perspex face anyway.)

Anyway, I could care less: I am now an outside chance to come out of this nutso adventure with my teeth intact. So I walked out of there with a cool plastic full-face visor, ready to wear my own lid for hockey school at last.

And twinning it up with Will as we both wore our Medicine Hat Tigers jerseys on the same night for the first time (mine is the white Home jersey, he wears the black Away top) and nobody said a word. We’re accepted now as hockey players.

And then the ice time was simply awesome. Nothing but sticks and pucks tonight and yes, I missed a few shots and a few passes and a few puck traps, but hey, it’s second week with the little discs skipping across the ice. At one stage I was paired with Barbara, who sounds Canadian, and she kicked my arse at cross court passes. I had a nicer perspex face visor though, so I called it square.

We had a fun game where coaches Lliam,  Army and Shona put a basketball-sized blue rubber ball in the middle of the ice between two lines of players and we had to fire pucks at it, and trap the pucks coming from the other way. Good trapping and passing practice. Then at the end, we would fire a pass to somebody rounding a glove on the ice, so they could shoot at goal, then we’d take off, round the glove, accept a pass and have a shot. I was 2 for 2. Go, leftie! (Sure, I fell over celebrating my second goal, but who hasn’t done that?)

Too much fun.

Meanwhile, Lliam, esteemed captain of Melbourne Ice, our spiritual leader and somebody to look up to, while teaching us the finer points of puck control, quoted freely from the Mighty Ducks movie, and then Happy Gilmore – classic moment right here (for a bonus point: which NHL team does Gilmore barrack for? answer here … for a second bonus point, why doesn’t Sandler make films like that anymore? Why did he make so few good ones among the crocks? Sorry, I digress).

And now I’m at home, eating chicken and red pumpkin curry from Bala’s, drinking whisky and smiling. I may, just may, have fought off a nasty lurgy that was stalking me for the last few days too (touch wood). I hope I have. On the weekend, I’m due to attempt the prac part of a Stress & Rescue scuba course, where the instructor Paul cheerfully told us: “You pay us to torture you!”

The final assessment is where we sit on the beach, and watch a “stricken diver” disappear near the end of St Leonard’s Pier (a long jetty). That “stricken diver” is instructed to swim away from where they went under. We have to put our fins on, swim out there, go underwater, complete an underwater search, find the stricken diver, check that they are genuinely unconscious – as against not moving because they’re taking a photo or something – get their dead weight to the surface, get their weight-belt and other scuba gear off them, get ours off too, give them CPR in the water – very tricky apparently – and then swim them to shore, giving one CPR breathe on every eighth second. Then carry them onto the beach. If we screw up any single component of that – like, CPR on the ninth second, for example – they don’t tell us until we’re finished … and we have to do the whole thing again.(If you feel like being entertained, you could do worse than be at St Leonard’s pier on Sunday arvo. Seven or eight of us will be crying/wailing/despairing.)

And this is only the final thing. There’s an entire weekend of in-pool hands-on stress torture they won’t even tell us about before that.

No wonder I’m thinking of being a hockey player.

If there are no blog entries next week, it means I didn’t survive the weekend. Or, then again, to use one of my company Media Giants‘ favourite mottos: “Hey, what could go wrong?”


(Oh yeah, and I’m in Sydney next week and was bummed I was going to miss a class … turns out, there is no class. Am I on a roll, or what?)

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