Today was the day. The day the warrior would pull on his battle gear, lace up his knife shoes, and don the orange and black sweater. The wait in the locker room seemed like forever; nervous anticipation and a thirst for the blood of the white and blue enemy sitting just feet away in their dark, smelly lair. The air reeked of moldy equipment and sweat. I was surrounded by men that grunted like rabid wombats and cursed like sailors. The warriors sat and collected their thoughts; some of us might not return home. Some of us might be severely injured in the battle. What did I eat for breakfast? Why didn’t I pee before I put all this stuff on?
The call to war was given and we entered the field of battle. We were surrounded by boards dinged up by battle axes and what I can only imagine had to be ninja stars. I may have even spotted the faintest trace of blood…or was that jelly donut?
The ice…she was slick. Not slick like water…slick like frozen water. I was assigned the second line center position by my coach. No pep talk was given; none was needed. We knew the task at hand and it was to inflict pain on the opposition. Not physical pain…emotional. We chirped like the chirpiest chirping bird that ever chirped and we were chirpin’ awesome. We offended mothers, we made nuns blush, we made babies cry and we were happy about it.
As the war (they kept calling it a game, but I didn’t believe them) began, I said a quick prayer of protection and as my 12-year-old starting center came to the bench I hopped on the frozen tundra and began my pursuit of anything that moved. Most notably, that was a small black disk of what looked to be rubber; could have been a giant Oreo, not sure.
As we slipped and slid around the slippery frozen water, the battle intensified. Men were yelling directions like left, right, center and I might have heard a chant of defense, but I was focused on that giant Oreo and trying to put it in the large webbed glass of milk at the other end of the ice. A large padded man stood in my way, but I paid him no attention as I dipped and weaved through the sea of combatants. I finally had my chance to bury that thin mint in the basket. But, this was not to be my time. No worries, surely I would have other chances to play the role of hero in this battle royale.
The swishing and crunching of our knife shoes were, surprisingly, calming to me considering the high stakes at hand. As the gladiators continued their march back and forth down the white frozen pond, my army found themselves down two goals early before coming back to tie the war. We then dropped in three more goals to pull ahead 5-2. However, the tide would soon turn in the favor of our opponents as we were soon behind in this war to end all wars.
I will not lie…it looked bleak. The sky was dimming around us (or maybe they turned the lights down?) and evening was nigh. As the seconds ticked down in the third installment of our feud, I felt…hungry. It had been a long time since breakfast and whoever decided to start this thing at 1:00 in the afternoon was inconsiderate of my eating habits. However, there was combat still to be done. Our knife shoes moved with the speed of a wylie cheetah. So fast, in fact, there was a rumor going down the bench that the ice was actually melting beneath them. We were fearful for our personal safety but put our well-being aside for the greater good of achieving our task.
With the odds stacked clearly against us, we were ultimately defeated by the white and blue clad gladiators. However, we were able to skate away with our heads looking like smokestacks as the steam of a thousand nuclear power plants exited our domes. Life on the white pond was not kind to us, but we shall return with renewed vigor in our souls and vengeance in our hearts. Revenge is a dish best served…well, I really don’t care how it’s served currently, just tell me where it is so I can eat it.
Diary, my legs feel like jello (what is up with all these food references?) and I can’t feel my feet, but the battle against pancreatic cancer is a tough one. In the end, however, it is one worth fighting and I would go to battle against it again…after I eat of course.
P.S.- Thank you to Bob Klem and the Have a Skate with Bob organization for putting together this charity game. Thank you, as well, to Rocco Carzo III for his support of me in memory of his father, Rocco Carzo II. We return to battle next year, but until then, keep fighting the fight against all forms of cancer.