Tuesday, December 08, 2009

So, How Are We Making Out?

Our last year of high school was a dandy one and a lot of it was spent in pursuit of a good time.

I went to an all guys school. It had its obvious drawback, first of all, but other than that it was a pretty fun place to grow up. Of course it did retard one stage of development for a lot of us. (Years later after a series of coincidences a guy I knew from high school ended up being my roommate for a year or so in a house I shared with a couple of musicians. He was studying for the bar and was a conservative ex jock type guy so it was an odd dynamic, him living with me and a couple of dope smoking communist musicians. But it worked. One night we were talking about one of the old high school guys, a guy who was very bright and funny, pretty good looking (I guess anyway, I mean I'd sleep with him, of course I would sleep with anybody), an athlete, you know the whole package. And here we are, like seven or eight years later and my roommate is shaking his head - 'That goddamned school ruined him', he said. 'Fucking guy still cannot talk to a woman to save his life'.

He wasn't the only one, although I had climbed over that wall a few years before, thank God. I recalled it all too well though.

After I kissed my first girl to the dulcet tones of Toto singing Africa I spent a couple of years living the dream. Well not really. My sex life, if you can call it that, its definitely overstating things by a lot, okay never mind the whole reference to sex, consisted of the odd night at a high school dance or a party at one of the local ethnic halls, slow dancing and making out with a girl to Stairway To Heaven or a similar rock anthem. I actually dated a couple of girls for a couple of months but generally the action consisted of the odd night at a high school dance or a party at one of the local ethnic halls, slow dancing and making out with her to Stairway to Heaven or a similar rock anthem.

It was Sudbury after all.

There were a few instances that I still recall.

There was the tall blonde in the sweater with the lovely big breasts at the Croatian Hall. She had what I call 50s boobs, the ones you saw in the oldest Playboys, long before implants, enormous and perky and natural, points riding way up high, impossible I know, yet true. I was loaded and we were dancing to the band, a punk/rock outfit of some sort. I was a shrimp and she towered over me. Anyhow we ended up sitting at a table making out for a good part of the night. We actually went out on a date or two but it went nowhere, most likely because I hadn't my driver's license and she got tired of being the DD.

There was the girl, who, well, um, taught me that girls, like boys, were horny dogs. While previous encounters I had had been relatively tentative, like a few hundred British commandos raiding a French port to remind Hitler that the Brits weren't dead yet, this girl's assault was full out D-Day, we're talking the entire fleet, the tens of thousands of troops, the bombers, the squadrons of fighters, the paratroopers. It was the first time I was left exhausted and spent by simply kissing. Jesus.

And then there was one of my buddy's sisters. I knew when I met her at the dance who she was, my God there was no mistaking her with the resemblance. And once again the usual ritual, the awkward white Canadian boy shuffle to a slew of 80s one hit wonders (I remember on the aforementioned night that almost immediately before Africa played dancing, if you can call it that, to Footloose by Kenny Loggins. Everyone cut Footloose indeed.) followed by the series of slow dances, then the lean in and .... paydirt! Tongue.

I would quickly outgrow the self conscious dance stylings of my very youthful youth, by the way, aided by my friend and yours, alcohol. Even to this day I will not step onto the dance floor until I have had a few drinks, then Gregory Hines, eat your fucking heart out, I become a gyrating, pulsating, automatic, spazmatic, hydromatic dancing fool. Think Travolta in Pulp Fiction only about one thousand times more awesome.

Seriously. Fucking. Awesome.

Anyhow in this instance we did the little kkkkkissy and then wandered out into the Sudbury February night in our parkas and Kodiaks, hand in hand, a bunch of my pals and hers hanging about, her brother staring in anguish.

Pat McLean and my sister!

It never came of anything, on Monday morning we were hanging about, shooting the breeze, a buddy of ours (we were pretty well all buddies, there were only ninety of is in our graduating class, if that) smirking:

So, basically, looking at her, it was like making out with Claudio. How was it?

Yeah that was it for that.

Anyhow my last year of high school and our social lives changed. The weekly event became the house party, usually at one of the guy's houses or one of our counterparts from Marymount, almost always on the Friday night. Saturday nights were a little more chaotic but Friday night was the event night for the week. It was generally the same group of kids and a lot of the same shit happened week after week. There was a guy who smoked rather than drank and always passed out early in the evening. There was another guy who always pulled out his guitar around 11 or so; he always 'just happened' to have it around when the girls asked. ;)

Anyhow partially because of familiarity with everyone, partially because there was just no interest from anyone, partially because I ended up with a massive crush my last year in high school, partially because I was a schrimp, partially because for me a lot of the year was about hanging with the guys, my senior year in high school was pretty barren when it came to girls. Indeed I can only recall one encounter. There may have been another one or two but I only remember the one.

It was New Year's Eve, one of those classic nights from high school, I remember about a half dozen of them. It was at one of the guys' places, his folks were away although I am pretty sure they were aware of what was going on. It was a fair sized gettogether and although now, years later, most of the details elude me, I do know that it was one of the best parties of my youth. All the gang, guys and girls, my best friends, the beer was flowing, good music. It was a terrific time. And at one point as we stood around shooting the breeze one of the girls, one of three sisters actually, staggered into the room, completely loaded. She'd never given me the time of day, barely to say hello even, until now, when she stumbled up to me, grabbed me and planted a big one on me. I responded. And then we fell over.

I jumped up and as she slowly got up I prepared myself for the onslaught, thinking certainly that my host was one of seven kids (Irish Catholics) and as a result there must be a bedroom somewhere and oh boy this is it and she got up and immediately grabbed someone else and planted one on them.

So you see it is true what they say about blind squirrels and all that. ;)


What can you say about the Oilers? Its pretty fucking typical of this club in most of its incarnations over the last long while. When they are expected to win, they usually do not; when we write them off then they surprise us. Often its mirrors and smoke, as Comrade Putin would say, but still they never fail to surprise us.

Ales Hemsky goes down and so we expect the season to go down the toilet, especially with Deslauriers becoming the starter with Khabibulin also going down.

Never saw that coming, Khabibulin being injured that is.

Shawn Horcoff, battling a shoulder injury so bad he cannot even take a faceoff as well as the whispers that he is in fact, a dirty Russian, begs Quinn for a chance at the shootout in Dallas. He finishes off the Stars and then does the same to the Panthers two nights later.

The aforementioned Deslauriers somehow manages to win three in a row on the road despite looking, lets say, uncomfortable when the puck comes near him.

Laddy Smid continues his breakout season with a timely goal, riding shotgun for the brilliance of Lubo Visnovsky.

Robert Nilsson reborn, at least this week.

Tom Gilbert, paired with Souray, a good combination, same as last season.

Cogliano awake.

Moreau too.

And Ryan Potulny, gaining traction, maybe an NHL career finally?

Although apparently the answer to the question for this club is Ryan Stone. Who knew?

Again, some of this little streak is that smoke and mirrors thing but the Oilers did a job on Detroit, outchanced Dallas (even at EV) and were a minus one in chances at EV against the Panthers (all of these numbers thanks to Dennis King).

So its not like they're getting away with murder out there.

Would it be best if this team went down the tubes, taking management with them? The answer is yes, to me anyhow. I think the club hasn't a chance with this management team in place. They have to go.

But they're hanging in there and winning is a lot more fun than losing. Remember the death march of spring 2007.

That was unbearable, even though it resulted in the highest Oiler pick in years and years.
So here we are, Oilers' fans, betwixt and between again. Longterm the best thing for the franchise would be a disaster of a season, a franchise player picked, management purged, players exposed and shipped out if possible.
But where's the fun in that?


PDO said...

The Oilers are in a scary position right now.

With Visnovsky, they might be too damn good to finish in the lottery.

But not good enough to make the playoffs.

And that's going to lead to a very frustrating season... if there's one thing I think might really send the locals insane, it's an 11th place finish.

The plan was for JDD to ensure that the team couldn't win enough games it wasn't supposed to and lost some it should win... that's not happening, and I'm not quite sure why as the book is clearly out on the guy.

Halfwise said...

I have come to believe that whatever trajectory an organization is on is likely to persist, even if the powers-that-be make loud commitments that things are gonna change and it's gonna start right now. Heck, even if the powers-that-be change.

It is some sort of inertia, not unlike your willing but awkward group of school buddies trying to figure out how to make happen in real life what their hormones and imaginations insisted should be happening. You can want it, a lot, but that doesn't mean you'll get it.

So blowing up the team won't be the Cure-All for Rex-All no matter how much we imagine this to be possible and desirable. There is too much corporate memory and culture baked into the cake. New trees, but pretty much the same forest. Whatever metaphor works for you.

2009-10. Change coaching plus a third of the team, let that soak in, see how it works. Fans not happy.

2010-11. Change a coach due to age or a better offer elsewhere, retire some vets whose contracts mercifully expire, bring on some rookies, see how it works. Fans likely still not happy.

2011 - whenever. Repeat ad infinitum. Maybe the fans are the problem...everything else has been changing...

Unless a real gamebreaker arrives or leaves, seriously, how many team rocket up the conference standings by more than 4 spots based on roster changes?

We define our hopes game by game and season by season, but we are fans for the long haul because the long haul is real life. The short term miracle cure happens so rarely it has to be considered a fluke.

Show me the genius who could prove in advance that Ryan Stone would have a more positive impact than POS. That is the only guy that we want as a replacement GM to blow up the team.

I don't think such a person exists, so if it's all the same to the rest of you, I'll vote for the 'change enough to expect a difference but not so much you won't know what you are getting' strategy.

Coach pb9617 said...

Unless a real gamebreaker arrives or leaves, seriously, how many team rocket up the conference standings by more than 4 spots based on roster changes.

It's not the gamebreakers they lack - it's the 6 of 9 bottom nine forwards that know what the hell they're doing that they lack.

Swabbubba said...

Great piece of writing once again. The songs of Journey were always playing when it was on in High School parties yes I am old.
The Oilers just cannot for life of me cannot stay down. But it is long way to go and injuries do happen. JDD has now developed the most unorthodox style of stopping the pucks. it is like Conky gong show we had before. Adventures in Goal keeping. Hell have to see how the webcast works out hope there is chat component would be fun to toss some barbs out there. Go Oil

Bruce said...

Beauty piece yet again, Pat.

I'm having trouble breaking this lifelong habit of wanting my team to, you know, win. While the cold-hearted math-brained analysts around us all seem to be convinced that tanking and somehow finding Wayne Gretzky in the next draft is the way to go, in my experience of "building" though the draft over this past quarter century or so, short term pain generally leads to longer term pain. The horrendous stretch run of '06-07 is a case in point, a whole lot of medium-term pain which netted us Sam Gagner and several years of "development". Not too many instant-fix types out there.

The other thing is that while the team is certainly weaker sans Hemsky, that some of the other fellows are gradually, glacially improving, and the team "should" be better than last year's. Gagner, Smid, Cogs, JDD, JFJ, Stortini, even slightly older guys like Gilbert, Grebs, Penner, Nilsson are still on the upward slope. Add in the emergence of a couple of NHL-calibre depth guys like Stone and Potulny and maybe it's not as hopeless as it seemed.

Importantly, the team looks a whole lot different without that flu than with it: they now have three periods worth of energy most nights and that makes a hell of a difference, makes the games more fun to watch and the squad easier to root for. Unless you've already given up hope for this season and are rooting for a bingo ball.

Dennis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dennis said...

I just always remember my HS days by what music I was listening to ( I started off listening to Metallica in 7th grade and then by the end it was Nirvana, Soundgarden and GNR's Use Your Illusions) or by how the Expos or Oilers did that day.

I heard Aerosmith's "Angel" the other day and it reminded me of being in 7th grade and being utterly confused about girls and as a result I really didn't have much of an interest because I knew it wasn't going anywhere:) I was the fat, smart and funny guy who loved sports and it wasn't until the summer past Grade 8 that I had a growth spurt and started hanging out with an older crowd and drinking on the weekends and then, bam, you like girls:)

During that particular summer a girl from Labrador happened to be visiting a cousin who lived in the harbour and this older agent of lust deflowered me on our old soccer field - which was really only half-sodded and which we used for everything from soccer, softball, ball hockey and, more importantly, binge drinking and screwing:)

Anyway, so I'm 14 and I'm off the snide , remember when Axl said "It's So Easy", but then I'm dry for the next 2.5 years.

Note: the only thing worse than having to wait all that time in order to lay your first length of pipe is to find such a job early on and then have to wait such a long frustrating time before you get re-hired, as it were.

Sure, in the interm there was this cute girl who loved beer and hash as much as I did but she never ever dated me and always had a boyfriend and would only manage to throw me the odd handy on bus trips but it wasn't the same as I'm sure you fellows know.

It all ended fine because eventually I met a few people from another community and neighbouring school and I wound up hitchiking over there on weekends and there was a new crew to hang with and girls who who were a lot easier than the ones I grew up.

Anyway, some really great times but with the knowledge that I've been on medication for acid reflux medication since I was 26 also comes the reality that I was probably drinking too much back then:)

When it comes to the Oilers I don't mind if they tank it and get a great pick but I also enjoy the wins as well. The Oilers are on a bit of a roll with the occasional outchancing and more often than not they're at last playing to a coin flip and the next seven games are winnable so let's see what we have.

I'm just taking it one game at a time by this point;)

Bruce said...

Ah, Dennis, you make me laugh. Impeccable choice of words, as always.

Black Dog said...

Great stuff Dennis.

And you are right, as is Bruce. Four wins now and the team has some energy and looks more like the club that started the season, they make mistakes sure, but they're not hard to watch. JDD seems to be somewhat competent and Greb's return will make the D pretty solid.

Still a mess up front although the work of the fourth line tonight was pretty cool.

The thing with this club is that they are far from being a contender but not far from being a playoff club. As Derek said, throw in a few more solid forwards and suddenly they're a little more formidable.

Ideally they would collapse completely, thus getting the franchise player and have Lowe and Tambellini out of there, new management comes in and augments the current roster with what it needs and suddenly you have a decent club with a Taveres (fifteen goals now) in the wings.

Most likely, as PDO says, they finish 11th, again.

that might not be enough to save management

Anonymous said...

Just one thought today...
O'Sullivan was one player I was excited to watch this season. It's just so weird, he looks so good but it's hasn't come together for him (yet?)
I keep flashing to that one game where he got blammed pretty good and seemed PO'd and scored a great goal. I also keep thinking, you know, maybe it actually is a psych thing. It's admirable what he personally went through; I do wonder if someone like that has had to develop a certain state of mind to remain 'normal'. I mean, the very thing that protected him during those stressful times is also the very thing that prevents him for getting to that high (healthy) stress level of playing. That getting pissed off and/or physically shaken got him to that good competitive stress level. Did that make any sense?

Black Dog said...

anon - interesting comment

I know nothing about psych - what you are saying makes sense to me except that I thought he actually played quite well for about the first, lets say ten games just because its a nice round number

he was aggressive, hard on the puck, he really looked terrific even though a bit snakebitten

since then he has been pretty disappointing, maybe its his confidence has been shaken, maybe its his linemate, heck maybe he's just an inconsistent guy

so while your comment makes sense (and a lot of guys have the rep as guys you don't want to 'wake up' as they say) I am not sure if it applies.

Dennis said...

Pat and Bruce: I just always feel like sharing some of my exploits when I post here because Pat's not shy about talking about what he used to be like and then it sorta leads me into following suit.

Anonymous said...

Dennis; I love reading your stuff too :-)

Just gonna try to expand on my humble theory;
Whatever that stress hormone is, the fight or flight thing, cortisol? whatever, I think some people who have these raised levels over a long period of time may need a stronger jolt than most i.e. anger, physical, to really get going.

When I listen to his interviews, I don't hear a lack of confidence.
Anyway, just a silly theory because I want to see him succeed. Like I mentioned, I like this fella.

Black Dog said...

anon - not discounting it, just don't know enough about that sort of thing, certainly as I said a lot of guys play better when they get angry - you always hear anecdotes about a guy getting 'woken up' and going on a tear

something is going on with him and while he is confident in his interviews it does not seem to be translating onto the ice

too bad because if he were to break out it would be a huge help

Anonymous said...

Thanks for letting me babble on BD :-)

Black Dog said...

Hah, I'm not going to delete your comments. ;)

Interesting theory, as I said.

He has the tools but something up top is not right, not a surprise considering.