Open Letter: To the most obviously talented player
(Who Won't Leave the Ice)
1. You’re clearly the most skilled player at tonight’s open hockey. Quite possible the most skilled ever on this ice, in any capacity.
2. It’s true: your $20 is actually valued more than everyone else’s.
3. You reject the brotherhood of the game not because you’re a douche, but because you’re a lone wolf. You dress in silence, alone, deep in thought, eyes on a distant and mythical opponent. The matrix of your game is so complex, on a level none of us could possibly understand. You wish you could scribble on the little rink board the coaches use and break it down for us, but that board is so profoundly two-dimensional...
3a. You do, in fact, possess a Beautiful Mind.
4. Truth is, what you’re really doing is reliving the one assist you had as a club player during your one semester at Franklin & Marshall, whose jersey you still wear and which your mom will wash for you tonight.
5. In fact, we all watch to see what jersey you don in order to put on the opposite. If you wear white, the rest wear black, leaving the teams comically unbalanced, wasting five minutes of scrimmage time as some are forced to grudgingly dig through their bags and find the white jersey which was there all along. You never notice this.
6. You hear us screaming for you to get off the ice, but what we don’t understand is the advantage you’re giving us by simply refusing to dominate at every touch of the puck. ‘You’re welcome,’ you think.
7. You end your eternal shifts not in response to the screaming bench but with an exhausted shrug of the shoulders, indicating you left it all out there, you have no more to give.
8. You play defense, allowing your repeated end-to-end rushes only slightly less awkward than had you played up.
9. Rather than sensing the flow of the game and jumping in, you seem to be immersed in a series of private moments, “working” on “your game.”
10. On the rare occasion you make a pass, it’s usually missed, mostly because everyone has given up on the expectation, allowing you to gently slam your stick and roll your eyes because...
10a. You alone live the hell of playing with the unskilled.
11. The girlfriend attends every open hockey with you. You talk to her through the glass at warm-ups, because, well, it’s you and her against the world, isn’t it? What you don’t know: She’s looking at the bench, witnessing a genuine camaraderie you’ve never mentioned to her. And by the way, she’s freezing.
12. When you sign in, where it says to print your name, you put your signature, again. You think the girlfriend thinks you’re a genuine rebel. She doesn’t and you aren’t.
13. You’ve never once held the door for another player, or an elevator, subway door or door of anything for anyone. Ever. You think the girlfriend thinks there is a brooding charm to this. She doesn’t and there isn’t.
14. As you must know, you are our role model, with your combination of grace and power. The dilemma appears when we attempt to imitate you, taking extended shifts as well, but without your lactic acid production, we quickly devolve into a hunched glide, usuallyat center ice, waiting for just one more mad dash, if only to gain your approval. The entire game slows for everyone as we sadly attempt to follow your lead of seven minute shifts.
15. At work, you’re a team player, always refilling the copy machine, not simply putting in the three sheets for your immediate copying needs. Only a douche would do that.
16. On your computer screen at work, you have attached a small mirror, which you say is for seeing those who might sneak up on you. We totally believe you, because the only other reason we can think of would be for more traditional mirror needs. No way. Not you.
17. You play street hockey with the little kids on your block, giggling to yourself as they are unable to get the ball off your stick. You think they think you’re awesome. They don’t.
18. We explained open hockey to a psychologist and asked why someone would act as you do, thinking a nuanced, professional take might be enlightening. His response: “Dude is a tool.”
19. When told that there’s free beer in the locker room, your only response is ‘What kind?’
20. Get off the ice. One love. — EG
If you are this player and we’ve gotten it wrong, let us know and we promise to publish your side of the story.