To the Russian-speaking coach // the adult clinic

1. I’m sorry your professional career didn’t work out. I realize that conducting a clinic full of weak-ankled adults on Sunday nights at the local rink in Brooklyn, NY, USA isn’t what you had in mind as your father woke you for 6am practices on those dark frigid Russian Sunday mornings.

2. You know the difference between your hometown on Sunday at 6am in February and my hometown, Buffalo? Neither do I.

3. You should know that just as we cannot understand you, we are aware you cannot understand us. Because of my name, first and last, you assume I’m Russian or at least of Russian descent, and therefore my reticence at replying to your commands is just a typical Russian response to pretty much everything since pretty much everything devolves into disagreement, with reticence being the return salvo to your command. Rather than what it truly is…incomprehension.

4. I like that you abuse us in order to make yourself the target of a reciprocal anger. I’ve often considered that making yourself the focus of our aggression is a brilliant ploy to allow our bodies to perform as you wish them to, no longer having the usual fears of falling, pain, and subsequent injury. However, you should also know that menace becomes comic if you don’t at some point actually take a swing at one of us.

5. On the seventh mention, I was finally able to discern “comfort zone” and all your previous instructions made sense to me.

6. I like it when you call us rabbits and simulate our polite prancing style as an example of exactly what not to do.

7. I like how your skates are all beaten and scarred. All your equipment, from another time, a time before plastic, apparently. Mine are ridiculously clean, like the icing on a Hostess chocolate cupcake. I handle them roughly to add scuffs, any marks that might suggest violent contact.

8. On your website, the image you have chosen from your “playing” days has your back turned toward the camera.

9. I know you want to tell us that we play like women but you can’t because women also attend the clinic. I know you have conflicted feelings about this since I would imagine you get more money for more participants. You have a subtle shake of the head which tells me you still wonder about a country which allows men and women to play hockey together and your response to this is to treat the poor women even more harshly than the men, about which I personally have an odd happiness.

10. I’m not sorry at all that your professional career didn’t work out. Truth is, you’re being paid and you put on skates to go to work. I’ve never been in such pain and yet I tell everyone I meet to buy some equipment and join your clinic. All I want is your approval. And to learn backward crossovers.