Friday, February 18, 2011

A First

I was pondering today that I was going to my first hockey game and that it's nice, at my ripe old age, to still be able to celebrate firsts (I feel like anyone reading this is gonna make sex jokes, so go on, go ahead, let's hear 'em).

First off: I am a San Francisco snob. I was born at St. Mary's, I grew up within the city limits, my area code is 415. I'm not so snobby that I can't leave, agoraphobic and tethered to this small city and county. I definitely venture down to San Mateo and even as far as Stanford to go shopping. I love going to Santa Cruz in the summer too. But San Jose? For a sporting event? That's like...HELLA far, y'all. (Yeah. I just did that. Hella and y'all in the same sentence.) (Yes, I also realize me and SF have a very complicated love/hate relationship.)

Oh wait, before I even leave for the game, I have to get dressed. You wouldn't think this would be difficult.  You would be wrong. See, I haven't really left the house or interacted with anyone outside of my immediate family in...mmm...a month? At least. So trying to be a functioning human being and put on makeup? This required energy and going through a series of steps I wasn't used to. I seriously logged on to gchat three different times because I was going to ask what was appropriate to wear. I was going to be rooting for the Caps, which are the opposing team to the hometown Sharks. Do I don red? What's the etiquette here?

I also feel a little guilty for being a bandwagon fan. I mean, I love the Caps. LOVE THEM. I imagine some people fall in love over and over again in their life with actual real live other people. Me? Apparently I fall in love with sports. Well, and athletes to be fair. First it was LSU everything and now it's the Caps. I'm not even joking about that love thing. Sports fandom makes me giddy and ridiculous and I laugh and laugh and get really excited. I watch athletes excel at their sports and just get stupid. I watch Ovie skate up the ice and am like, "Yes! That!" It is just flipping amazing. I could seriously wax poetic for a good thousand words on his skating and I barely understand it. I watch LSU's D make hard hits and good stops or the receiver catch the floater to the corner of the end zone and I am in awe. And the pitcher throwing out the stealing runner. Good god. Straight sexy. I don't get that way about much else. Ever.

(Digression Alert! That last one? It's all Ryan Jorgensen's fault. I had a crush on him in college. We hung out a few times, I went to his apartment for parties and such but I doubt he knew I was interested in him or had any interest in me. Still: INCREDIBLE defensive catcher. He would just rocket it to 2nd on the guy stealing. From his knees, perfect throw. Loved going to LSU games that year. As baseball games were free, I went to a lot of them, sitting down the first base line with all the other students. Sigh, undergrad nostalgia. Hysterically, when I went to grab that link, I was like, "What order is this list in? I can not figure it out. Oh, by jersey number. Shit. I don't remember his number." Before I could even finish thinking "don't remember..." I suddenly and vividly recalled, "He wore 39." The mind never ceases to amaze me. Additionally, check out that roster. 3 or 4 guys on that list still in the majors. LSU baseball, baby.)

But I have no tie to the Caps. I've actually never even been to D.C. (I know, I know). Chuck, one of my bestest friends, loves the Caps so I come to it via him and via the HBO documentary I have watched far too many times. (Watched so many times I've made a playlist of the songs, which I am quite proud of. Which I may have already mentioned. Forgive me for repeating myself. I'm kinda retarded lately.) So if I don red do I look like a tool? Like the Florida football fan who has never set foot in Gainesville? Should I care? I mean, I mock bandwagon fans relentlessly. Then again: I got bigger issues right now, yo.

I'm also a brand spanking new hockey fan. I'm just trying to learn about it. Is out loud fandom really the way to go? I dunno. But I finally decided to stop thinking too hard about it and put on one of the few red items I have, a cable knit Old Navy sweater over a black t-shirt and said, "Fuck it." I was about to grab my black tennis shoes when I opened my closet and saw my red sequined ballet flats  and thought, "Yes! Those!" But then second thoughts. "Wait. Too much?" Finally I realize there are far more pressing matters and to just own it and wear what I want. Ballet flats it is.

So now I pick Chuck up and we make the lonnnggggg trek, in the rain, down to San Jose. I hate driving in the rain. And this is the most time I have spent not looking a computer or Barbri book in weeks. It took a lot more energy than I had expected. But we chatted and made it through traffic down 280 to San Jose. We discussed how if I was a 25 year old star professional athlete I would likely not behave the way these guys do. At least Crosby seems to be REALLY together. I'd be more Russian rock star Ovie like. Bottle service and partying til the wee hours and fast cars. It'd be a rap video up in hurrrrrrr.

We were going to grab a bite a restaurant near the stadium but there was some confusion (read: we're retarded) and we ended up getting a parking pass to the A lot, mere steps from the entrance to HP Pavilion, from some lady and we just parked there and went into the stadium as soon as it opened. I haven't been that early to any event since I was a little kid and we would catch BP at Candlestick.

I immediately noticed all the people in teal jerseys. I don't think I've ever been to a sporting event where that many people are wearing the jerseys. I'm a huge LSU fan. I'll be damned if you see me in a football jersey. (When I am hot and skinny I am SO rocking one of those dress jersey things with sparkles. I dare you to stop me.) I thought there were rules about this? Like any one not on the team shouldn't be wearing the jersey? Or past the age of 12? I swear I read this in a men's magazine at one point. (My personal rule is pick one team, one sport at a time. Nothing drives me battier than the guy on campus in Michigan shorts and a North Carolina hat with his LSU t-shirt. Or the fan at the Giants game in a 49ers jersey. What is wrong with you?! This is a BASEBALL game. The Niners aren't here.) So is there dispensation for hockey jerseys? Because there were TONS and even the Caps fans had on their teams jersey. I should mention at this point that my low key friend was his usual understated self in neutral colors. Ah, well, whatever.

To the girl in the jersey with the laces, like a corset, up the back though? That was hot. Oh! A girl rule: heels at sporting events? You look like an idiot. Stop it.

We go in, grab requisite stadium junk food and head to our seats where we watch warm ups. I love this. Lurve lurve lurve. They pan to a shot of Arturs Irbe, who used to play for the Sharks but now coaches for the Caps. This man scares me. I mention to Chuck, as I had previously mentioned to someone else, that if he wasn't a hockey star he could have run a Russian gulag. He's very severe. But also awesome. Chuck nodded in agreement.

And then the game starts. I learned quickly that you don't lean forward when the puck is against the boards in the corner where you can't see it. I got scolded. Sorry!

I asked Chuck annoying questions (Um, where does the ice go when there are other events? What's that call mean?) which he handled well, but I tried not to be too nosy or ask anything too complicated. I think the passing could have been better and I watched and learned that Ovie, when on the ice, sort of just hangs out by the goal waiting for shots but doesn't really want to be bothered with defense. I was a little annoyed with the lack of offense. Why don't they try to get on offense more? But I guess these are things I don't really understand yet and with time I will.

Chuck was annoyed with the guy sitting next to him. He was a nerd, no lie, sitting next to his grumpy wife. Both of them had on headphones listening to the play by play of the game on the radio. Chuck was also a little bummed knowing that the Caps had such a ridiculously offensive game the night before in Anaheim, we were probably in for more of a defensive matchup this time around. And he was right. There was no scoring 'til late in the 1st period when the Sharks got a short handed goal (Caps on the power play). Before the Sharks fans were even done cheering, the puck dropped and Ovie got a quick score. Chuck and I cheered for the Caps which prompted the lady in front of us to ask him if he ever got in fights at games. Giggle. You have to know Chuck. He does more to avoid confrontation than face it. And he's not small. If I was gonna pick a guy to fight, it would NOT be him. He's tall and in good shape. As Chuck told her, "Um. No. Those guys out there get paid a lot of money. I'm not gonna fight over what a fan says to me about them." She mentioned something about being on the east coast and fights being more likely there. Yeah, I could see going into Pittsburgh in a Caps jersey and someone wanting to start something. But with Chuck in San Jose? Doubtful.

I wouldn't get into a fight with an opposing fan. A GOOD opposing fan will be fine with the good natured banter but I totally respect your alternate fandom. Just don't be a jerk about it. I expect to be treated the same when in an opposing stadium.

Which is when it dawned on me that I don't think I've ever been an opposing fan. I go to Giants games at AT&T. I go to LSU games in Tiger Stadium. Oh wait. Now that I think about it some more, I've been to LSU games in Tempe and Seattle. College fans are famously polite and welcoming though, at least that has been my overwhelming experience at both of those events (I've heard horror stories of Oxford, MS though and have very little desire to ever go there). And as an LSU fan to opposing fans, we yell "tiger bait" but then welcome them to our tailgate and offer them a beer. Still, it was odd being dressed in red (a color, as I mentioned, I don't normally gravitate towards with a wardrobe full of purple) in a sea of teal. And good god, is teal an awful sports color or what? No wonder the Diamondbacks got rid of it. The Marlins and Sharks need to work on that next.

The second period led to nothing. No scoring, and from what I could tell, and Chuck told me, not even particularly headsup defensive play. The Sharks then scored twice in the 3rd, both times when they were on the power play. Backstrom of the Caps got a gorgeous goal with 18 minutes having expired in the 3rd period but it was too little too late. Caps lost. 

And that was it. We made the trek allll the way back to the city, I dropped him off at home and now here I am, up later than I expected blogging about it. But flipping A it was fun! I want to do that again! And I want a luxury box. Or seats on the ice, behind the glass. Because I'm a princess like that. Though our seats were fantastic and I could see everything but the left corner of the boards and I LOVED it. Thanks, Dad! (Best dad evvveeeerrrr.)

If only they were the SF Sharks...

(My fantasy SF-->N.O Mardi Gras-->Florida drinking-->D.C. hockey-->AZ spring training post bar road trip sounds that much more awesome knowing I could watch the Caps play in D.C. If only I had money. Sigh.)

And with that, I end the first with a last: This will be the last post until after the bar. I need to focus focus focus. And I don't want to clog the universe up with me whining so I'll reserve that for pen and paper or just shove it down into the deep dark corners of my psyche. I'm not much for ya know the whole "pray for me" thing but...just...send me your good vibes if you can spare them, mkay? It would be much appreciated. 'Til then...

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