My first love as a sports fan was hockey. Sounds odd coming from a girl from LA, but it’s true. Not being from this country, my parents didn’t grow up backing a college or pro team, so when one of my dad’s first American friends took him to an LA Kings game, the rest was history. I’m going to age myself a bit here, but this was before the Gretzky era (aka before most people in LA knew we even had a hockey team). People used to see my purple and gold Kings sweatshirt and tell me Lakers was spelled wrong — at least that’s what my mom tells me; I don’t remember.
But I wasn’t shy about my hockey obsession. Far from it. And that obsession spawned some interesting quirks.
I was convinced I was Canadian
This wasn’t a short phase, either. I really believed it for YEARS. When my parents started letting me call long-distance numbers, I actually called every Canadian province’s Visitors Bureau and requested an information packet. I ended up with drawers full of information on Alberta and Saskatchewan. My dream was to visit the West Edmonton Mall, the largest in North America. (Sadly, I’ve still never been.)
Imagine my absolute joy when I found out that my great-grandfather was indeed BORN IN CANADA! It didn’t matter that neither I, my parents nor my grandparents were from there, I became Canadian just like that. I started saying “eh” and everything. And at one point, I talked my parents into getting a personalized license plate on one of our cars that said “HOKKY EH”.
I thought I was going to marry a hockey player.
Imagine being 8 years old and already knowing who you were going to marry. That was me, and Luc Robitaille was the lucky guy. Robitaille is now the president of the LA Kings, but at the time, he was a 20-something-year-old professional hockey player. And I promise you, I believed this would happen. Like George Costanza said, “It’s not a lie if you believe it.” I even wrote about it in my diary!
Luc lived somewhat near us, and I remember making my mom drive over to his house, and we’d pretend to be neighbor kids playing street hockey. He’d have to see me when he came out his house, right? I can’t believe I talked my mom into this. I was a certified stalker. A few years later when I’d “matured” and accepted the fact that it most likely wouldn’t happen with Luc (he got married to someone slightly more age appropriate), I set my eyes on a younger fella who I read about in a Sports Illustrated for Kids issue at my dentist’s office. His name was Eric Lindros. Spoiler: That didn’t happen either, but I did get my parents to give me money to buy some ridiculously overpriced hockey cards of his, which I still have, of course.
Anyone in the hockey-card buying market?
I went to school with a Band-Aid on my head and said I was hit with a puck.
If there’s one thing my friends know about me now, it’s that I’m the world’s worst liar. I can’t even lie to the front desk of a hotel to get a late checkout, but I remember showing up at school one day with a Band-Aid square across my forehead. There was ABSOLUTELY nothing wrong with my head. Nothing. But boy, when people asked what happened I gave quite the story. “Well, I was hit in the head with a hockey puck at last night’s game.”
What was my end game? No idea. Karma’s a bitch, though, because years later while I was trying to act cool for the cute boys who sat behind us at the games, Kelly Hrudey deflected a puck that — wouldn’t you know it — hit me square in the forehead. I don’t remember much but I do recall that not even my parents noticed (too busy trying to get the puck), and the cute boys behind me had to point out “Um, I think she got hit” as I was lying on ground. The usher raced down, I got taken to first aid and I didn’t even get the puck. I also didn’t wear a Band-Aid to school the next day.
That’ll teach you to lie, kids.