“Quit talking business! This is important!” A shocking pronouncement coming from one’s employer! I go mum. We sit behind thick glass, watching the Chicago Blackhawks clobber the Anaheim Ducks in the final game of the series. The Hawks will win this game and go on to the coveted Stanley Cup. That is correct, sir—an opportunity for a third championship in just a few years!
I comply with Jonelis’ rude order. I do it because I sympathize with his lack of discipline in this arena of violent chaos. And of course, like most men, I am quite prepared to revive my boyhood when the opportunity arises. Certainly, there are subjects other than business worthy of utterance.
Lonagan is at my right, constantly jostling, constantly booming, “Did ya see dat?” shouts the execrable fellow. “He jammed da butt o’ his stick right into dat poor sap’s kisser.” Permit me to note that Lonagan is able to perform a multitude of tasks simultaneously:
- He shouts expert opinions about every detail of this free-for-all.
- He gnaws great hunks from greasy bratwurst.
- He swills beer from a paper cup with great skill.
I have never before witnessed a hockey game. I attempt to test its worth with my closest scrutiny, but find it difficult to comprehend my editor’s rationale—dragging me out here to write about six bearded hooligans with faulty dental work beating up six over-muscled goons. How can I stay abreast of the Chicago private equity action? Nothing of impact happens in California. Most of their financiers chase after the same-old, same-old mobile apps. But I agreed not to talk business.
Jonelis and Lonagan both jump to their feet and beer sloshes onto my fine white flannel suit. “Goal!” they scream in rough unison, and the stadium erupts in opposing voices of victory and outrage. Jonelis pounds my shoulder. “Did you see that? Did you? A rebound—that’s the way to score a goal—always crowd the net!” I am perplexed. How can he possibly assume that I did not witness the occurrence? Does the man think I am blind? We are right here in the front row of the roaring crowd, watching this madness with an entirely unobstructed view! A gentleman named Toews, who I am told, for some unknown reason, pronounces his name Taves, just flung a small black object into the goal by artful use of a stick. I saw the act, as did every other bloodthirsty spectator in this crowded coliseum.
Meanwhile, Lonagan gesticulates broadly with both arms, then breaks into impassioned laughter that squeezes out a few tears. He reaches across me and punches Jonelis square on the shoulder. “Dis is da best! First class airfare. First class box seats! I kin hardly believe I’m here! What made ya ask me?”
Jonelis seems momentarily at a loss for words. He grins sheepishly, then admits in a somewhat lower tone, “You know how to throw a party—I don’t.” He clears his throat. “After we win this game, I want to celebrate. I want to do it right.”
I catch a glint in Lonagan’s eye. “You want I should pour it on industrial strength?”
A wan smile. “That’s the general idea.”
“Yer on!” Lonagan grins like a slathering bulldog. “What about old whisker-puss here?”
“He’s covering the game.” Then Jonelis addresses me. “Get the article out tonight, will you?”
I care not about a drunken felon denigrating the quality of my mustaches, but the second insult inflicts its sting. My host reduces my status from guest to employee. Such is the level of respect shown an accomplished novelist. A writer is without honor, sir! (I secretly resolve to delay the entire project for several days. I, too, enjoy the Lonagan fellow’s raucous celebrations.)
Two huge bodies in bulky uniforms slam into the glass inches from my nose with an impact that rattles the structure of the enclosure.
I sit up and take notice.
Pinned, the Hawk reaches under an inadequate face guard and grabs the nose of the angry Duck, who bars his stick against the Hawk’s hairy throat.
With a bleeding nose, the Duck skates to the penalty box.
In the ensuing power play, I note amazingly deceptive and expert stick handling. Fascinating! Other members of the team, entirely out of the action of play, perform acts of sadistic menace upon each other’s persons. These go unnoticed by the officials, otherwise engaged. As an organ plays magnificent chants, I wonder how thugs learn to skate with such skill.
Toews scores another goal and I am wearing flecks of Lonagan’s mustard. Only a few minutes have transpired since the splattering of beer—inadequate time to allow my suit to dry.
I stand and cheer! “Hooray!”
This represents an important lesson! Yes sir! How is it that I have never before attended such an event as this? And I speculate on the odds of bribing a season ticket from some luminary with the only real weapon I own—the promise to not write about him.
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