Celebrating the uncelebratable*

Not sure the snake as goalie is a smart play by the coach. And my money is on the lion to beat the pig, one-on-one.

I’m not a birthday hater. I usually like birthday celebrations. I like that kind of excited feeling you still get, a ghost of kid-dom, even if you’re just heading to work, drinking coffee, doing what you normally do.

But now I’ve passed the turn towards 50, what is there to celebrate? Wisdom? Oh, please. Still waiting for that bus. Maturity? Next. Financial security? Potential 2013 Winter Classic costs blow that out. A chance to reflect on a full life well lived? OK, I might have to hurt you now …

In fact, don’t even attempt to answer. (A big hello to Brendan Parsons who recently called me “an active senior”. Yeouch! – but well played, Brendan)

I’ll be locked in my study with the single malt and loud music.

Well, actually, I won’t. Here’s how my actual birthday diary is shaping up:

7.30ish: Wake up, probably happily sore from the after-shocks of tonight’s 5.30 pm Dev League. Maybe even nursing a mild hangover from pre-birthday dining shenanigans.

Grab Fly Dog The Magnificent and hit Brunswick Street for breakfast and novel-writing, or the New Yorker/Wired mag on the iPad.

Eventually, turn up at Giants HQ; mostly cartooning all day, which rocks, because it’s fun. And writing articles for our fake sport website, The Bladder. Just because it didn’t happen doesn’t mean it isn’t true. Even more fun.

Celebratory lunch with workmates and other buddies in the East Richmond hood.

Post-work. Harbourside Hotel. See if excellent eightball lessons with reigning Australian nine-ball champion Robbie Foldvari work on a pub table. (Robbie said I was a natural, and a “freak”, hitting the ball brilliantly despite a completely wrong, unworkable bridge, among other sins. Then offered to play me for money … what?)

7 pm: Still at Harbourside, meeting to discuss forming a potential summer league hockey team. Yes, a real team. For competition. Excitement.

8.15 pm: Head to the Icehouse; start strapping on the armour.

8.45 pm: Intermediate class for one hour. Second last class … should be puck-handling, game-play heavy. I hope so.

10 pm: Intermediate level, intense but fun Dev League for one hour.

11.30ish: Get home. Say hi to Fly Dog The Magnificent, and Macklin the Younger. Fail to sleep before about 3 am.

Perfect.

Isn’t that how everybody turning 47 (yes, the horrible truth … fuck!) spends their birthday?

Well, whatever. As of now, I’m 37. Prove I’m not.

Or even better, do like I do and try to ignore the artificial human concept of ‘years’ by allowing yourself to be distracted by a selection of the finest hockey-themed cakes I could find in a scandalously fast and un-thorough Google search. Enjoy.

My understanding is that the cake under the beer, and the hockey skate, are edible. I really hope I'm not wrong on the hockey skate. That would be awkward.

Can't work out if this guy is an astronaut, about to plant the flag on a planet, or that's a hockey stick.

OK, this skate is definitely edible. Red Wings backing colours too. Nice.

One for the Canucks... Hello, Alex. Pretty good cake, despite the dodgy team branding.

Sensing a theme here. What is it with hockey players and eating boots?

Full respect. A cake with mood lighting.

OK, it came up under "ice hockey birthday cake". He appears to be wearing a helmet. But seriously? Is that a walking stick or a hockey stick? Richmond FC colours just saves it.

Before biting into puck, see previous comments re hockey skates that may or may not be made of cake.

All round impressive. Players appear to be attempting to hold their positions, although it's obviously a violent cake: down to two-on-two. The Penalty Box cake must be overflowing with players.

* Is “uncelebratable” a word? Hey, I’m a frickin’ novelist. I say it is, as of now. Sweethouse.

Chasing the night

Like wildfire on Facebook …

Harbourside car park hockey. In the rain. Pic: Ben Weisser

Have you heard?

Class is cancelled …

What???

The rink’s apparently not ready, post skating titles …

WHAT?

The Ice Cat broke down …

The Zamboni …

Oh my God …

Calm everybody. We just need to stay calm.

OH MY GOD!!!

The Icehouse staff doing the right thing,
going over and above to phone everybody in last night’s classes and Dev League,
letting us know,
saying sorry,
inviting us down for a free general skate,
extending the term by a week.

By now, emails flying,
Facebook in meltdown,
decisions to be made about whether emergency counsellors need to be called in,
to help the shocked, grieving hockey rookies cope.

Bottom lips quivering.

No classes?

Tonight?

OH MY GOD!

Facebook humming.
Plans emerge.
Well, we’re free tonight anyway, right?

The Harbourside Hotel does a roaring trade as rookies can have a sly drink, pre-General Skate
– something we’d (well, I’d … ok, maybe one) never do before a real class.

And then General Skate is a Wednesday night social outing;

Chris’s Janson and Hodson,
The Hough gals,
Will Ong, Wayne, waves and grins.
Beyonce dancing on the screen,
All the single ladies … All the single ladies …
hockey rookies everywhere, hanging laps and chatting,
catching up in ways we can’t when the heat of class is on.

But then, a need to hit a puck. General just not cutting it.

Into the night we go,
Alex clasping a brand new stick,
Kittens and I with a quiver for anybody who wants them,
Jack turning up in time to play, stretching truths to escape class,
Kittens’ wider, non-hockey crew, well-charged after a social afternoon
with us as we hit the top floor of the Harbourside car park
and smack some street-pucks.

Two McNabs down. Note to self: Wear shoes when you play street hockey.

Getting carried away.
Women playing in bare feet, having assumed skates when leaving home this morning, pre-cancellation disaster.
Bare feet not a good idea.
A McNab down. Broken toe? Only bruised?
Another McNab down. Make that two.

This one nastier. Ouch.

Blood on the concrete.
Rain falling.
A few fluorescent lights.
Puck-catching tricks with sticks.
Banter. Laughter.

Driving home in the dark rain.
A Wednesday night without class – the third in a row – but the rookies taking control of the night, making it ours.

Fun.