Posts Tagged ‘Halloween’


Growing up, I was the last born of five kids. We had a great time. We also did not kill each other, which is testament to my folks finding ways to keep us busy. I don’t recall saying, ‘I’m bored!’ too often, especially when you know that such a statement will be followed by an introduction to ‘The List’, which contained all the odd jobs that inevitably needed to be done, particularly by bored kids. This list did not exist on paper, but was engraved on my parents’ minds, and could be whipped out at a moment’s notice.

As the fifth kid, I was also ‘Mr. Hand-Me-Down’. I’m pretty sure I wore a little bit of everyone’s clothes, which is sad when you consider 3 out of the 4 siblings I have are girls. Because of this, at Halloween I often dressed as a girl. Thankfully, it didn’t grow into a fetish, although I still think girls have WAY better underwear. Okay, I’m just kidding about that, but they do have nicer material….

Part of my hand-me-down treasures included hockey gear. This stuff got recycled before recycling became fashionable. And all this stuff was labeled with whoever’s name it used to belong to. At times, my coach called me Bob, Steve, Frankie baby, Darryl, and later in my illustrious career, names like Sven, Diëter, Gunther, and Otto, because we were in Germany. I drew the line when stuff showed up with names like Arlene and Peggy. I had to have SOME pride.

I was only 9 years old, and had been a goalie since the age of 5. Goalie to me meant less moving, or so I thought. At first, this was true, but as time passed, being goalie became more and more important to your team, especially if you wanted to win. And to me, I was pretty good. I’m not sure if this sentiment was shared by all, but certainly we won more than we lost.

Enter the end of year tournament. We were playing against a team from out of town, and everything was on the line. In a pitched battle, the score was 1-1, it was the third period, and the packed arena was abuzz with excitement. My teammates rallied around me, and tried to keep me focused, to keep my ‘eyes on the prize’.

I feel it is the appropriate time now to introduce you to the star of this story…my jock. It had been my brother Bob’s jock for years, and had seen more action than Sylvester Stallone. And said jock was a little on the tattered side. What did not help was that I had not brought this up with my mother, who would have undoubtedly corrected this with her Singer sewing machine. But, alas, I had neglected to mention anything of the sort, so Mr. Jock remained tattered. Of late, a nasty side effect of this state of being was that, occasionally, the cup that was, to me, the most integral and important part of the jock would fall out.

For those of us in the know, a jock without a cup is like house without a roof…things are going to get through. As a goalie, many a puck is sent your way, so the jock becomes your best friend, or at least one of them. My brother was ‘equipment manager’ for our team that day, and was aware of my predicament… all too aware.

With about 5 minutes left in the third period, and during a lull in the action, my brother decided it was time to take his job seriously. He was bent over the boards, and as the arena was at its most silent, he bellowed for all to hear, ‘Hey Bill, is this your jock over here?’ Moments like this will either kill you, or make you stronger. I have no idea which this was. The entire crowd was focused on this little moment, and were awaiting my response. I skated over to see, and said ‘no’as the cup had the name ‘Bob’ on it. Thankfully, I thought. I shrugged off the embarrassment, and skated back to the net, all too aware now that the future children I may father were at the mercy of physics and luck.

Bob knew it was mine. He could have embarrassed me further, but for some reason, chose not to. The play continued, and just when we thought that surely overtime was imminent, their star player got the puck and had a breakaway. I was focused, but understandably a little puckish. He streaked into our zone, and seemingly in slow motion, tried to deke in the winning goal. As I performed what was for me an impossibly-acrobatic splits save, the inevitable happened.


Yes… ding. Tears welled to my eyes as the puck stayed out of the net, and I collapsed upon it. I had made the save of my life, and upon reflection, I was able to do the splits because the cup was not in the jock. At the moment, however, all I could see was my teammates congratulating me, the crowd giving me my first standing ovation….and my brother doubled-over in laughter. He knew.

We won the game, by the way. Not long into overtime, we scored, and I wasn’t a zero, I was a hero. Arriving home, sounding like I was breathing helium, I revealed the secret to my success, and my dad couldn’t have been more proud… concerned, but proud. The future would bear fruit for me, so to speak, but in the ensuing week, I lived more tenderly than I ever had.