So it’s July. I’m not entirely sure how that happened, because it was just last week that I was delighted by a rhyming series (Pens-Sens) — which went well enough. Of course, the series that followed didn’t rhyme (except, come to think of it, with “ruins”), and then it was over.
Confession? I didn’t watch the Cup final. Actually, I didn’t watch any of that series, although I heard from reliable fans that it was a good one. I don’t think it was sour grapes (although if I had been rooting, it would be Chicago over Boston — please, please forget that year when I had a temporary lapse of sanity and was rooting for … yes, Boston and Tim Thomas). I’d like to think it’s because I was too busy to watch, but that’s not entirely true, either.
This season was shorter than the others. I had more opportunities to watch regular season games than the others. And yet, by the time Pittsburgh had been humiliated by Boston, I didn’t have much left in me in the way of spectatorship. (I am fan — and narcissist — enough to believe that I share some responsibility for the Pens’ downward spiral — because I was in Chicago working 15 hour days and unable to watch the final two games except in snippets in a hotel lobby bar. Actually, now that I’m writing this, it’s clear that I inadvertently became a talisman for Chicago, arriving in time for them to take back their series from Detroit. Damn. I doomed my team and brought Chicago back from the brink. Now that’s fandom.)
My best hockey guy told me a while back that I was something of a spoiled fan, having my first “team” win a Stanley Cup my first viewing season, with a national Olympic gold not far behind. I always thought it was just how these things went, but now I’m beginning to see that fandom is far more complicated than that. (Of course it is.)
But maybe it’s more than that. Maybe it’s that the honeymoon phase of fandom for me is over. Those first golden years were filled with voracious reading and intense conversations, a hot burn towards knowing everything I could about this game that I had fallen for. That kind of intensity doesn’t last, as well we know. So now I’m in the post phase. Where sometimes it’s work to stay up with the trades and moves and bruhaha. Where sometimes I’d rather be outside frolicking than inside watching. It’s more like steady work now, like knowing that it will pay off and I’ll enjoy it, but it’s more about staying the course than about the squeeeeee of the next game.
I’m going to try to stay a bit more in contact, world. It’s a contract, between me and my Pens, between me and the world of fandom, between me and the millions of words floating about hockey. See you in a few.