There was a time when I thought the Stanley Cup was something you’d find in a hardware store along with the Stanley Box Beam Level and the Stanley 20-Inch Claw Nailing Hammer.
But that was only after I realized one of my friends during our early pre-teen confusion years was off the mark when he said it was athletic gear of some sort.
He’d been told that by his father, who, as dads often do just to mess with their kids, made it up, along with an explanation of this article’s origins and purpose.
“So,” I asked my father, after being fully informed as to what was what by my friend, “Will I be getting a Stanley Cup when I start playing Little League baseball?”
My father only smiled, which I took as a “Yes” but really meant, “Ah, kids. They’re such amusing little idiots.”
As a result, when another pre-teen associate asked before one of our initial games, “Why will we be wearing these things?”
“Well, according to Tommy’s dad,” I replied with some authority, “it’s to protect your Stanley or Stanleys, as the case may be.”
The sight of your coach face-down in the dugout dirt gasping for air will make you revisit your understanding of things, thus leading to my more logical conclusion that a Stanley Cup must be used by carpenters for their coffee breaks, which, given their frequency, require a drinking vessel of industrial strength. Made sense to me.
It wasn’t until some years later that I discovered ice hockey, which is not surprising considering that my town, Denton, an Eastern Shore of Maryland community with one stoplight and a Ben Franklin five-and-dime at the time, had a winter sports tradition pretty much limited to skidding across the driveway after a good night of sleet.
Then a kid from Michigan moved to town and enlightened me.
“Hockey is a great sport,” he advised me, “It’s fighting on ice skates until the team with the most teeth wins.”
I’ve watched hockey ever since, even though all I know about it is that yelling at everything is required of all real fans.
My wife, on the other hand, knows her hockey, because she’s from Long Island and it’s a requirement of residency.
As we watched the final game of the Stanley Cup series this week between the ultimately victorious St. Louis Blues and the Boston Bruins, I got myself wrapped up in the contest, partly as a show of spousal support and because I like to be involved even though I have no idea what I’m talking about. Kind of like people and politics, when you think about it.
“Icing! Icing,” I hollered in reference to a call the refs make when they need a breather.
“It’s not icing,” she says. “Icing is when …”
“Blue line violation! Blue line violation!” I shouted, in reference to another call the refs seem to make for the sake of variety.
“It’s not a blue line violation,” she says. “A blue line violation is when …”
At least I do know what the Stanley Cup is these days. Still, I wonder if Lord Stanley, the governor general of Canada who created it, ever played Little League.
“What do think?” I asked my wife.
She only smiled, which I took exactly as it was meant, “Ah, men. They’re such unamusing big idiots.”