This past Friday, I attended my first Penguins game since I was about 16-years-old, and if you know any math at all, you know that that was mumble-mumble years ago. Okay. Fine, let me do the math for you 36-16=HOLY NUTS, SHE’S OLD.
Why did I wait twenty years to go to a second Pens game?
Well, when I went as a teenager, my father took my sister and I along as his guests when a customer of his at US Steel invited him. Pre-game was awesome as we went up to the Igloo Club (is that still there? Not the Igloo Club seats, but the Igloo Club with the kickass buffet?) Anyway, my sister and I daintily inhaled everything in sight while squeeing to each other under our breaths, “THIS IS SO FREAKING AWESOME! I feel important. I wonder if Mario will come in here or maybe that big stuffed Penguin.”
Then we went to our seats and it was very not awesome.
The seats weren’t bad or anything, maybe midway up. But here’s something I discovered at the time — from midway up, I could not for the 16-year-life of me follow the stinking puck on the ice. I mean, where’s THE DAMN PUCK?! Is it there? Is it there? I do not see the puck.
I ended up just sort of following the players’ bodies and figuring, they must be chasing the puck, right? I don’t know if my eyes just reject the small black dot on the white ice or something, but I didn’t see the puck until one landed in my dad’s customer’s lap. I’m not even making that up. He and my father were all, “Blahbitty blah steel tension blahbitty [more words I don't understand about steel] blah bl–” BAM! Puck in the lap.
So THAT’S what a puck looks like. This is stupid.
I spent the next twenty years watching the Pens from the comfort of various living rooms, because at least on TV, I can see the stupid puck.
Then last week, Mike and I were offered — are you sitting down — FIFTH ROW BEHIND THE PENGUINS BENCH tickets! Of course, we jumped at the chance to sit that close to the action, the closest either of us have ever sat at a Pens game. We took our spouses along and made it a date.
Long story short? So THAT’S what a hockey game is supposed to be like!
Oh, my God, you guys. I had no idea what I have been missing.
My thoughts in random order because there’s no way to bring order to this much random awesomeness:
1. I saw Michelle The Knitting Lady’s husband across the ice! I even took a picture!
Michelle couldn’t go to the game because of work. Also, I should tell you that she has generously offered to knit me a version of that scarf I was coveting. WOO! Can’t wait to sport that this fall or winter.
2. Dan Bylsma? HOT.
3. When you sit high up, the players kind of look like they’re skating a moderately fast version of a Smuckers Stars on Ice program; however, up close, five rows back, the incredible speeds hockey players can reach is mind-blowing. They must have bionic thighs or something. And they make it look so easy! But here’s something I learned from curling … looking easy is not the same thing as BEING easy. I’m going to have that etched on my gravestone.
4. In my opinion, and THIS IS JUST MY OPINION, so don’t write me evil letters, sister Pens Fan AKA I’d Leave My Husband for Sidney Crosby, I found that the fastest, most fluid skater seemed to be Geno. There were times he literally took my breath away with his graceful power. He’s like a cheetah on skates. Mmrowr.
5. Player most likely to become an NHL coach? That’s easily Billy Guerin who spent more time instructing players on when to enter the ice than Bylsma did. He’s the one player that looked like both a player and a coach at all times — watching the ice like he was memorizing everything. Love him.
6. Letang is sex. No, I didn’t forget the y.
7. I never understood why hockey fans bang on the glass, but after sitting through that intense game, holding my breath without realizing it, jumping up and screaming and high-fiving when the Pens scored, and the general feeling of “I COULD KILL A BEAR AND BITE THE HEAD OFF OF A SNAKE RIGHT NOW,” if I was sitting by the glass, I’d have been banging on it like an angry zoo gorilla. That intense.
8. There were some other kids in our row, and the reason I say “other” is because me and Mike’s wife Meg were basically little kids. “Oooh! That sound when they hit the boards! Oooh! That punch! Ooooh! Look at the glass shake! Oooh! That guy just killed that Penguin! Oooooh! SQUEEE! Oooh! Eek! CAN I HAVE SOME COTTON CANDY?!?!” She and I did not leave our seats one single time during the entire game. We sent the husbands for food and they missed Leopold being knocked the hell out by some jerk and they missed Max Talbot’s fight.
9. Speaking of fighting and knocking out, I could never be a hockey mom because I was aghast at how hard they drive each other into the boards and how serious about fighting they are. If any one of those Penguins was my child, I would have been arrested after I used the business end of a broken hockey stick to beat the shit out of a Senator. This sport might be more physical than football. Way more brutal hits. Way less padding. Hockey guys are incredibly tough, but Mama-Bearitis would easily trump that if I got my hand on a broken hockey stick.
10. I saw Letang and Geno have a little tiff during a commercial break and because I am an expert lip-reader, I shall now transcribe what they said:
Letang: You didn’t go around.
Geno: I did!
Letang: You didn’t. Right there. [points to the ice].
Geno: I did!
Letang: You did not!
Geno: I make many score.
Letang: My hair is pure sex.
Okay, so I made up the last two, but the rest is, like, verbatim. You’re welcome.
11. I had so much fun that I spent the entire game wondering how I could become employed by the Penguins or the Arena so that I could go to every game for the rest of my life and get paid to do it. I mean, there’s this guy whose entire job it looks like is to sit in the bench with the Penguins and hand them sticks. No lie. I could do that. How hard could it be? I bet you don’t need a Ph.D. in Hockey Sticks to be all, “Here’s your stick. Here’s a stick. Sticks here! Get yer STICKS HEEEEERE! HEY, SEXY LETANG, YOU WANNA STICK?!”
Or how about this guy’s job?
He would spend the breaks heading to the locker room and retrieving hockey gloves. That’s easy! I could retrieve the hell out of some hockey gloves for the Pens.
Or what about the guy whose job it is to fly that little blimp around the arena and drop prize envelopes? I could do that! I fly my kid’s remote-controlled helicopter like I’m saving lives over the Pacific. Precision handling is my middle name.
Or what about the Ice Crew? It appears that some of those guys are in charge of shuffling across the ice after the Zamboni drives over it. I guess to test the smoothness? I could do that. “HEY! YOU MISSED A SPOT!”
Or maybe I could be the person that opens the doors for the Zambonis? Or maybe I could drive a Zamboni provided I don’t have to ever ever ever parallel-park the Zamboni on account of my inner-ear thing? Or maybe I could be an usher? A hockey-stick cleaner? The lights-turner-offer? The person that hides in a locker and watches the players get undressed?
What do you MEAN that’s not a thing?
LET’S GO, PENS!