Marrying truth with fiction…
The ice rink of Gunnison, Colorado is home to many a triumph and many a tragedy. Rec League hockey at it’s finest and the human animal at it’s worst. Ice skating brings out the grace and fluidity of movement in human form – but hand and ice-skater a stick and ask them to chase a small puck and the perversion of the human soul is exposed. Anger. Violence. Cruelty. It’s glorious!
On the ice they called me White Molasses. “A tribute to my sticky defense?” I asked.
“No, it’s because your slow as…,” started Kent Presdumb* unable to finish the sentence as a hand quickly covered his mouth.
“Yeah sure…sticky defense.” interjected Datsun “Wild Turkey” Hatchback, who’s hand stymied the Kent’s verbal jab. Datsun getting his name from his place of conception with “Wild Turkey” being the cause. He was like Wolverine but smaller and with lesser quality lamb-chops.
The team gave me the number -1. I asked naively, “Because I negate 1 play at a time?”
“No, it’s because your plus/minus…” Kent once again stymied by a hand to his mouth. This time by his brother Ben. Ben Presdumb couldn’t be more different than his brother. His fiery style of play matching the only hair on his skull – his eyebrows. Do they drapes match the carpet? Only a (un)lucky handful of ladies know.
“Yeah sure Poponi,” Ben answered for Kent. Looking at Kent with a look saying “Go along with this you dumbass”
Kent’s wit matched his style of play on the ice, slow and deliberate – very slow, like Eor meets a six-pack of ketamine slow – yet surprisingly able to pull together a coherent strategy to achieve goals.
To his left Dan Hoptus – purveryor of excellent beer and marginal pizza at his establishment the Brick House. He provided the team beer and lived by the mantra “Get people to drink enough 6% beer and our pizza tastes great. It’s a proven model,” his mouth agape. Though fit as race horse Dan’s hands matched the namesake foundation of his business “Bricks.” Tape-to-tape passes turned harmlessly into turnovers as the puck caromed off a blade made of cold concrete. His 14 goals in 2009 were provided by 13 perfectly aimed deflections by Deuce Flusher.
Deuce was out of his league on our team and by out of his league I mean we were terrible and belonged in a much lower league. He played goalkeep now and when he wasn’t laughing hysterically at our athletically deprived attempts at a sport he had mastered he was really good.
We were a lineup know throughout rec league hockey and the 16,000 people of our County as the Furrowsome Five – sometimes our play would make Deuce’s eyebrows furrow. We were in the final against the toughest team in the league. Most could outplay them, none could out drink them.
Our mortal enemies were Yahnie “Mein Slash” Meistner whose penchant for slashing open wounds was matched only by his prowess of slashing open of Copenhagen pucks. He hated everything: kittens, oxygen, even pizza. Who hates pizza?
On his left wing was Chad “The Commissioner” Zima who drank Zima like water and who’s head high slapshots were always called “accidental” he would say “like my kids!” He’d yell “bank on it” as he released his slapshots – and they would – his shots would literally bank wildly off the boards, through traffic and off a teammate before going on goal. It was like watching Foosball but with real people. He called himself “The Commish” but we called him the VP. The VP of VDs and we never let him touch our gear or share a water bottle.
Stepan “The Doctor” Pinata was surgical with a stick in his hand. Finishing each trip, slash or crosscheck with his deadpan catch phrase “Just What the Doctor Ordered” wearing an empty smile and a correction facility jumpsuit. He was deliberate, methodical and yet gentle on the ice and cool handed unless you called him Alice and then “The Doctor” became the patient, a mental patient, calmed only by the singing of a siren named Bel who’s lulabyes could calm the beast.
Clint “The Clintcident” Dimes was largely harmless and relied on his teammates to cover his many flaws. His many, many flaws like skating, passing and shooting. His special move was a combination of a screaming and a violent hook he called “The Jerk.” When given a penalty for “The Jerk” he would scream “Well I’m gonna to go then! And I don’t need any of this. I don’t need this stuff, and I don’t need you.” He would then strip naked saying “I don’t need anything. Except this.” Picking up the puck and running across the ice and refusing to give it back.
Wade “Wonderbread” Wisco wore breezers fashioned from coyote pelts and ate only Wonderbread chased with Montucky Coldsnacks. When asked about his special diet he said Wonderbread gave him special powers, “his doc even tole him so, powers like a-knee-mee-ya and scurvies”. Wade isn’t expected to make it to 40. Wade’s signature move was to skate in circles. That’s it, that’s his move, circles. The only thing athletic about Wade is his shoes – and they have velcro instead of laces. His talent on the ice was minimal but his ability to quote lines from Slapshot was legendary. OWNS! OWNS!
Sammie “Samsung” Pankratz was their goalie. Sam took a lot of pucks to the head. A lot, even for shots aimed at his pads. He seemed to like it. During the finals Samsung was rung in the head by a slapshot and that seemed to be the final stroke. He skated off the ice playing “air mandolin” to “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond while trying and failing to insert “Sweet Jennie of Mine” into the song. He was never seen again and only occasionally reported to be seen playing banjo for a bluegrass band in the Almont Triangle. He plays banjo now. Tragic.
Though this game never took place it seems real enough. In real life we win the championship and I almost get arrested by a female cop for mooning my teammates. She let me go after she found out I wasn’t mooning strangers – because it’s apparently ok to moon people as long as you know them.
Sometimes reality is stranger than fiction.
NOTE: This writing is a piece of [insert slander here] fiction and names have been changed to protect the innocent which means I didn’t need to really change any names. They’re all heathens. Filthy heathens.
Anthony Poponi is a comic, improv artist, brain chemistry nerd and community-minded advocate and owner of Humore.us. He’s brings his love of connection and laughter to audiences as keynote, emcee, workshop host or moderator and his mission is to increase laughter and connectivity to combat the human health crises of isolation and disconnection.