When my husband and I were younger, hockey was part of (our dating) life. Overpriced pretzels and minor league matches made up any given Friday night.
Then, like most couples, we started a family, and all that changed. Sure, we brought our daughter from time to time. But as she grew, so did her sensitivity to darkness and unpredictable sounds that come with any given game. Autism doesn't like "sensory soup", so hockey switched from season tickets in the cheap seats to finding a not so cheap babysitter for date night. (Then hoping our daughter wouldn't wear her out!)
In short, trying to go to a game together not only became a hassle, it became a guys night out.
Which is great, if you are the guy in the relationship...
As life always does, time flew by, finding us in another state, with a grandmother-turned-sitter encouraging us to pick that old friend back up. But after a few years away from the game, here we were, headed toward seats five rows up from the ice. It felt good.
Despite the fact it was "bring your dog day".
To hockey. Indoor hockey. Where it gets dark and loud. And there aren't any fire hydrants, if you follow.
And then intermission hit.
The ticket prices were much higher than I expected, especially for such a low level of hockey, but we sure were entertained. On the ice were a troupe of girls with more material in their boots than the rest of them. That's right, boots on ice. Then they danced.
To, "Who Let the Dogs Out."
But that's not where it ended. Oh, no. We were just warming up. There was a dog race, a blimp dropping papers, pucks to throw onto the ice (which means, "Duck and cover!" for those of us sitting near the ice), flashing lights all over the place, all of which mesmerized the crowd more that any of the players did. It felt like the crowd was bribed to stay for a game. A game that most of them seemed uninterested in. And then there were the cheerleaders.
Cheerleaders. Standing off to the side of the stands, now in long-sleeved half shirts. (Apparently, they discovered it gets cold watching hockey.) Shaking pom-poms behind the Plexiglas, where no one could possibly hear them.
When did I miss the memo that my daughter could strive to be a hockey cheer-dancer-leader?
Somewhere, in the middle of all this, there was hockey. Ice scratched up by skates, checking into the boards, the thud of puck after puck hitting goalie pads, icing, 5 minute majors. Hockey. Pure hockey. And "our" team won.
But I'd be lying to say I don't miss higher level hockey. I'm pretty sure it does not come with as many bells and whistles.
The old joke goes, "I went to a fight, then a hockey game broke out." Well, we didn't see a fight until the end of the third. That's how off the scale of normal yesterday was.
So we wound the date up by doing the obvious.
We went to the local furniture store, and ate dinner.