tried to eat the safe banana (thefourthvine) wrote,
tried to eat the safe banana

The Reluctant Introvert Goes to a Hockey Game!

Fandom takes you to strange places. You find yourself, for instance, in Lawrence, Kansas. Or you find yourself bidding a lot of money on a small piece of molded plastic on eBay. Or you find yourself waiting in line at four in the afternoon for a movie that isn't showing until midnight.

On March 25th, fandom took me to a hockey game. dramaturgca courageously volunteered to accompany me, and since she is an actual fan of the Ducks and I am not a fan of the Ducks or anyone they had left to play at that point, we picked a game based on convenience to us. Which left us watching the Ducks vs. the Bruins.

Keep in mind that I am a huge introvert who has problems with crowds and loud noises and bright lights and people too close to me, and thus am perhaps the person who should least go to a hockey game. I mean ever. If you had to choose between taking an elephant to a hockey game and taking me, most wise people would choose the elephant.

But I went. And I had a really good time. And since I solicited advice from you all for this, I'm going to offer you my observations. As a very pathetic sort of thank you, basically. (Yes, I know you'd rather have a card. Next year, I swear.)

Here's what I learned.
  1. Hockey is better and easier to follow live. It just is. By an almost incalculable amount. I was worried about being able to see the puck, being able to follow the game without the TV replays, being able to figure out what the hell was going on without being able to back the game up. That turned out not to be an issue at all. There actually are replays of key moments, because of the Jumbotron, which is a torture device we will discuss in a moment, but it's obvious what's going on on the ice, because you can see what everyone is doing. Not just whoever has the puck. It's also hugely obvious, watching a game, what problems a team is having; you don't need to be told that a team has a turnover problem, because you can see that they're constantly giving the puck to the other team. Basically, you can see stuff instead of hearing people tell you what you'd be seeing if you were there! It's awesome.

  2. Hockey games are loud. Oh god, I cannot adequately convey to you how fucking loud it is, and I was attending a Ducks game late in a season in which they are no longer in playoff contention. Also, it was absolutely sheeting rain outside, and this is Southern California, so a lot of the season ticket holders stayed home out of fear they would melt. (It was supposed to be sold out, standing room only, but there were lots of empty chunks.) And yet. So, so loud. Screaming fans! Super-loud music! Piercing whistles! Random sound effects! And then each period, as the game got closer to the end and the crowd got drunker, it got louder. Somewhere in the middle of the second period, my ears started to surrender, and my conversations with dramaturgca all began to sound like this:

    D: [A thing.]
    Me: Sorry, what?
    Me: Um, still couldn't hear you.
    Me, wondering if it is safe to pat a disappointed hockey fan in a sympathetic manner and deciding probably not: There, there.

    My point is, it's tough to angst when no one can hear you, and in a hockey game, there is a lot of angst, but no one can ever hear you.

  3. The Jumbotron is a work of pure evil. I had never seen one before, because of my scrupulous lifelong avoidance of any situation in which a Jumbotron could conceivably be appropriate, and it is a GIANT MULTI-SIDED TV IN THE SKY. (If you've only ever seen hockey in streaming or whatever, you've probably wondered why players on the bench and in the box spend so much time staring up. They're staring at the Jumbotron, hypnotized.) Which provides useful information, yes, but also does horrible things like provide giant closeups on random members of the audience, some of whom are eating. (Or texting. Or waving frantically to get the attention of the Jumbotron God, for reasons that are still totally unclear to me.) It's awful.

  4. Hockey games are - pretty cheesy. Like, they sort of hide this from you in TV coverage? But in actual reality, once the TV coverage goes to commercial, they play terrible covers of songs from two decades ago, and they have these weird halftime competitions where, like, they pull random kids from the audience and have them hit pucks into circles, and the Ducks have a little dirigible that flies around inside the stadium and drops coupons for things no one wants coupons for on random audience members. (Half of them react like a coupon is the last item they need on their scavenger hunt, and half of them keep texting.) They have unfortunately dressed audience members (including a complete loon who sat near us and who we tried to ignore because we were afraid if we made eye contact we'd catch something). They have these competitions where fans sing or dance, which lead to contact embarrassment so severe I had to stare at my feet for them. So, basically, we're talking about fifteen or twenty thousand people who get together one evening to be total dorks. It's frankly adorable.

  5. Live hockey games have energy. Even if you didn't care at all about either team at the start of it, by the middle of the second period, you totally would, because it turns out that kind of caring is contagious. I found myself genuinely incensed that the refs, who it goes without saying sucked donkey balls, took a goal away from the Ducks for goalie interference when there was obviously no goalie interference. (Seriously, go watch that - I mean it! - and then know that at the time, I cared about that specific event more deeply than I cared about 90% of the votes I cast in the last election. The noise you're hearing in the background there? I was one of the people making it.) And I am not a joiner, mind you. I assume if you were the kind of person who actually chanted because everyone else was chanting, you would spend most of every hockey game totally high on the energy of people around you. (I assume this is why they design the parking lots to have looooooong waits to get out, so that you can come down from that high before you get out on the freeway and start, you know, driving to the net.) As it was, I smiled a LOT.

  6. Fangirls watch hockey differently than other fans. I mean, no, not in terms of what we actually see, but - okay. I was between dramaturgca and a random dude, both of whom were vocal Ducks fans. They both reacted the same way to the situation on the ice, but they sounded different. The random dude talked to the team like they were drivers on the freeway who were cutting him off and had maybe also fucked his mother. dramaturgca talked to the team like they were puppies who just did not understand that they were not supposed to pee on the carpet, but could probably learn to potty outside with lots of help. (Yes, I would like to get a comparison sample from when the team is winning.) It sounded like this:

    [The Ducks have the puck and are heading towards the Bruins' goal!]
    Random Dude, in a tone of intense aggravation: Come on, you fuckers, just - just GO, just GET IT - OH FUCK YOU.
    D, in a peppy, high-pitched tone: Come on, sweeties, come on, you can do it, babies, you just - AUGH.

    Because of this, I spent some of the evening working hard not to laugh. I think hockey on TV would be greatly improved if you had Sugar Announcer ("They're really trying hard! Harder than they did last time! Awwww, isn't that CUTE?") and Bastard Announcer ("If these assholes don't stop blocking their own shooting lanes, I'm going to go down there myself and start punching them in the junk.") instead of the burbling idiots they generally have talk over everything interesting happening in the game. (Opinions, I have them. Best Beloved is laughing at me right now.)

  7. If you go to a hockey game - and I think you should! - try to go with someone who has been there before. Because dramaturgca has been going to games at Honda Center for years, she was able to pick out good seats (great seats, even!) and then navigate us to them with a minimum of difficulty. She also drove there and dealt with the parking mess. Basically, she went to a game and sort of carried me along with her. It was great.
It was, overall, a wonderful night, and I am already planning to go back next year. I am apparently determined to become the country's least-likely hockey fan. (Sadly, I can't compete on the international level, because I have friends in countries that basically don't even have skating rinks who are finding themselves inexplicably drawn to hockey. That's hardcore.)

Or, to sum up: Hockey. YAY.

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