Wednesday, April 19, 2006

04-14-2006 -- the bowlin' green

The game started out desperately running east – chasing sun, fleeing shadow – but after a quick, gimmicky short-drop round the grim wall of the ancient brick schoolhouse has forced us to head back up the turf. We didn’t do it by half-measures, either; Team Blue’s tossed the jack – the pin, the target, the little white ball that probably has a cool Italian name – way deep, past centre field. Team Red’s sitting quasi-comfortably at one, but my Team Yellow partner’s opening throw crouches close by. The promise of picking up two for the win shines out of the shadow…

Bocce, man! The greatest slack-ass outdoor pastime this side of makin’ out by the creek. Accessible to all but the most tragically disabled or hilariously wasted of humans, demanding nothing more from your cardiovascular system than the routine pumping of oxygenated blood to the brain. The easy pace and low attention requirements enable an element of girl-watching frisbee or hacky-sack can’t match. Conducive to gentle conversation -- even the trash-talking makes use of our “inside voices” – bocce also has the virtue of being playable with one hand, making it the ideal sport for drinkers and smokers… just don’t bogart that spliff while you size up your shot, Tiger!

Yeah, I think I’ve found my sport… at least, my sport as a player; for spectation purposes, nothing beats that good ol’ hockey game – and if something (rugby, for instance; come on, Ulster!) did beat it, I’d sure keep my mouth shut and my opinions to myself. Poor-mouthing hockey is a great way to turn every Mike, Dave and Chris in the bar against you. The nerds and poet-jocks will harangue you about the beauty of the game’s flow, the swirling hypnotic mandala best appreciated from the nosebleeds; the meatheads will call you a fag. Luckily, I do in fact think hockey is totally rad; good thing this isn’t a baseball town…

So… Oilers in six? Hey? Hey? Discounting for now the doom-and-gloom contingent who are certain the Four Horsemen of the Oilpocalypse – iffy goaltending, sloppy giveaways, inability to SHOOOOOOOOOT! and… uh… Pestilence? – will show up in turn, one for each ass-kicking Detroit is to hand them, “Oilers in six” seems (from what I pick up from the background rhubarb) to be the standard cautiously hopeful fan wisdom. But as much as I’d like to see the Oilers playing into late May or even June – if only because I love the absurdity of sweating, sunburned Canadians in shorts and tank-tops getting excited about a game played on a sheet of soild ice – I’m a little worried. You see, I live near Whyte Avenue.

Can you feel it, children? That scene’s going to go positively apeshit this year. We’re not even three weeks into Asshole Season and already Whyte after dark is unendurable. Raw violence and hate in a sick spiral with orgiastic lust, everywhere; jealousy, pettiness, punchiness, hair-trigger personal-space territoriality… goddamn animals, howling, covered in blood. The boulevard trees haven’t even leafed out yet, and already the place is ready to blow its top; what happens when the sportosterone released by home-team playoff wins is added to the mix? Down Calgary way, the cops are already “cracking down” on the Red Mile, itching for a riot… what’ll happen up here, when our hometown louts demand a toxic tit-show of their own?

Scary shit… but I have to put it out of my mind as much as I can, for now. This is the make-or-break throw. Bowling takeout weight at sixty feet is risky… a slight miscalculation, a twitch of the wrist, a distracting cough and that baby’s gonna lie down under the SUV across the street. Breathe. Watch. Focus. A swig and a drag for luck. Compensate for slope. Adjust for that patch of dirt. Backswing and… go go go go go GO GO GO YES! The Red ball is dislodged! TEAM YELLOW WINS IT ALL!

[cue Intellivision crowd noise]

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