Thursday, April 3, 2008

Hear us Laugh

The brick steps of my house were always quite cold when you sat on them in March. Like an ice cube under your bottom, they were always splended at reminding you it was still winter in Kensington, Brooklyn.
But we really didn’t care you see, because we had our hockey jerseys and roller skates on, and were
about to get back to the “game”
any second.

Like a bunch of misplaced Canadians, there we were, with long hair and wooden hockey sticks sitting on my front stoop. Northland, Koho, Sherwood, Lopez, Liria, O’Callaghan. The names on our Jerseys and the names of our sticks, Oh, they were all so mismatched, and all so beautiful at the same time.

And we were a big bunch you know, Bobby Brennan stood at six five, Neil O’Callaghan at six two, Jimmy Brier, six two, and me at six three. And we never had to lie about our good looks because you could always find us on the block smashing each other into the sides of parked cars. Just ready to sign an NHL contract and find our faces on a box of “Wheaties” someday.

Except no one ever came. I guess Brooklyn wasn’t exactly Toronto when it came to scouting for a “future prospect”. And the fact that we were on four wheeled roller skates and tar instead of silver blades and white ice didn’t help much either.

No, roller hockey wasn’t exactly being featured on “Hockey Night in Canada” back in 1975. And the closest we ever got to Montreal in the Wintertime, was the Catskills for Easter vacation. So forget about a career in the NHL for these oversized Brooklyn boys.

But still we persisted, with numb fingers and numb toes we would just skate for hours. “We were “Rocket Richard”, we were “Bobby Orr”. We were the New York Rangers, we were the Chicago Black Hawks. We were Glenn Gruder, Ronnie Lopez and Tommy Brennan. We were just stars on our own block and couldn’t care less about the “outside world”.

We were seventeen years old and lived without a care.

And life just couldn’t have been any better.

And if you don't believe me,
just ask anyone that heard us laugh.

The puck made an oh so familiar sound as it hit my goalie pad. I must have heard that sound over a million times in my 50 years. "Thump" "thump", off my pad and right back to the blade of my cousin Pete's hockey stick. He lines up the puck and takes another quick blast. "Ting", that fast the puck is in the net, the sound of the metal pipe behind my legs is also familiar. Yes, the sound of a goal.

It was Easter morning 2008, and there we were, like two overgrown kids with gray hair. Living with more "cares" than you can shake a stick at. College tuition, million dollar mortgages, private school payments, job insecurity, 401k's shrinking faster than my hairline.
Oh yeah, its enough to keep you up at night and make you sick to your stomach. Just worry yourself to death to an early gravesite over in Greenwood why don't you.

And you know what,

life just couldn’t have been any better.

And if you don't believe me,
just ask anyone that heard us laugh.

Ron Lopez

Photo at top, clockwise:
Glenn Gruder, Pete Liria,
and me, Ronnie Lopez.

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