It all started Saturday morning in the kitchen. I leaned against the door frame while Henry made breakfast, and we talked about hockey.
“You know, one of my old high school friends has season tickets and sometimes if she can’t make it to the game, she’ll put them up for grabs on Facebook,” I told Henry.
“Huh. Well, maybe sometime if we catch her in time, we can buy some,” Henry said over the sizzle of grease.
Less than a minute later, I sat on the couch checking my Facebook newsfeed from my phone. And just like that, there was my old high school friend Stacey, selling two tickets to Monday night’s game versus the Sabres, for $50.
Henry couldn’t justify us both going, because we’re still trying to catch up on past bills, and I guess I couldn’t really justify myself going either, but that selfish part of me won out. “It’s the fucking Pens,” I reminded myself. So without hesitation, I texted Alisha to see if she wanted to go with me. That was a no-brainer because she put up with me during the entire Stanley Cup playoffs and finals last year when I did nothing but rip off my fingernails with my nervously gnashing teeth and chew on my hair; it was only right that she should be rewarded for that. When my question was immediately answered with a Caps-locked FUCK YEAH, I pounced on Stacey and called dibs.
Two nights, one Radioshack employee crush, and a dozen street-crossing yelps later, Alisha and I were walking to Mellon Arena. On the way there, we witnessed a loud-mouthed portly white man, a total fucking dickhead Yinzer (one of the reasons I don’t love this city as much as I should) running his mouth at a horn-blowing elderly black panhandler (who wasn’t bothering anyone, I should add). “Get a real job!” the Yinzer snidely barked. And then, “How much money did you give to Haiti?! Fuck you!” And the panhandler, who stood there dumbfounded and initially took some of the abuse, finally started screaming “Fuck you!” which prompted the fat Yinzer to holla back “Fuck YOU!” and it was so tense, all these vacillating “fuck you”s, that my right strawberry knee high began creeping down around my ankle. Actually, I’m so angry about this right now that I’m trembling. I mean, did that Yinzer asshole feel good about himself after that? Yeah, you’re fucking cool, you Steeler-loving douchebag. Go home and rub one out while replaying your machismo.
Once Alisha had her suitcase rifled through by security, we made our way up to section F. I thought it was going to suck, that we’d be too far away, but it turned out that we were in the first row of that section, which hung right over the side of the rink where the Pens shoot twice. In fact, during the second period, I could actually hear Fleury yelling.
This was Alisha’s first hockey game, and it was important that she was there that night because it’s the last year the Mellon Arena will be around. When the lights went out for the pre-game theatrics, she was like, “OMG I’m so excited” and it was completely without sarcasm. I cried a little during the pre-game stuff and was thankful for the darkness.
I don’t care much for the Sabres as a whole, but I really have mad respect for their goalie, Ryan Miller. It was really cool to be that close to him. And even cooler 47 seconds into the 1st period when our Mark Letestu got his first NHL goal and ALISHA MISSED IT.
Unfortunately, the Sabres answered with two goals later in the period. This spawned an onslaught of disparaging remarks from a few fickle fans nearby and suddenly I was 12 and at a Pens game with my step-dad, who loved to yell, “Stick a fork in them!” whenever the Pens would flounder. Or, my favorite (read: there’s some sarcasm there), when he would yell, “Lay down, Coffey!” anytime my ALL-TIME FAVORITE PLAYER Paul Coffey would have an off-night.
At one point, I started laughing to myself. I leaned over and said to Alisha, “I hope someone spills something on you.”
“Oh, too late. That already happened.” If it weren’t for what was to come during the 2nd period, that might have been my highlight of the night.
When the 2nd period started, I remember thinking, “It’s going to be OK. They can’t lose. Not when it’s Alisha’s first hockey game!” And before I could finish that thought, the Sabres scored again, making it 3-1. But then Sidney Crosby scored, and in the span of eight minutes he went on to score two more times (along with one from Staal). So not only did the Pens regain the lead, but Crosby got a motherfucking hat trick.
I got to see Crosby get a motherfucking hat trick. I’m not even going to pretend that I didn’t cry. It was like a goddamn Visa commercial. Eight minutes. That was all Crosby needed to get a hat trick.
The last three minutes of the 3rd period were harrowing. The Sabres came back to score one more time and the last two minutes found the Pens defending a 6-on-4, but we ultimately prevailed which obviously made it even sweeter. While we all stood and applauded Crosby for being the #1 star of the game, I turned to Alisha and said, “It’s not often I wish to be a boy, but I wouldn’t mind being Sidney Crosby for a day.” Most non-Penguins fans will say he’s “over-rated” though, just like people who don’t know shit about hockey will say the same about Alex Ovechkin, who is unequivocally one of the best hockey players in the world right now. People who can’t appreciate that get on my nerves.
(However, when the Capitals play the Pens, Ovie will always be “Obitchkin” to me.)
Alisha and I later compared our applause-inflicted wounds while admitting that it was worth so much more than $25.
That night, as I tried to get my body to stop humming with adrenaline and excitement, I actually cried a little because I was that happy to have been at the game. It really meant a lot to me. Now that I got all that sentimental bullcum out of my system, I’ll be back on my game* tomorrow. I promise.
(* You know, the asshole game.)