Thursday, June 05, 2008
I was barely fourteen when my family moved to Michigan, and although we had only migrated from the border state of Ohio, it sometimes felt as if we had moved to another country. The prospect of entering high school with zero friends was a huge source of stress for me, so when Shelly and Jenny took pity and offered their friendship that first summer at band camp, I latched on to them with a death-grip. They both had their own firmly-entrenched social circles so I’m not entirely sure why they reached out to sad little me, but I have a feeling that it was partly due to my fascinating “otherness,” that being my distinct “Ohioan-ness.”

All week they teased me about it – asking if I grew up on a farm (I didn’t), if I had ever milked a cow (I had), and commenting on my funny accent (Whatever). The gentle teasing escalated when I noticed Shelly’s necklace – a winged wheel – and asked her what it meant. In fact, if I remember correctly I think I asked her if it was some Greek mythological symbol, because, you see, I was born destined to be a literature nerd. Unsurprisingly, she looked at me like I had goat ears and fell speechless, forcing Jenny to take over, asking, “You mean, you’ve never heard of The Red Wings?” Gently. Like I was retarded.

But, no. I had never heard of The Red Wings. If fact, I’m not even sure I realized professional hockey existed. And lo, but did they make me feel ashamed.

They did their best to explain hockey’s importance to me, and while I could certainly understand the appeal of Steve Yzerman (yum), it really wasn’t until Detroit’s 1997 Stanley Cup win when I fully grasped the city’s love of the sport. The moment the winning goal was scored, a slew of fans flooded the downtown area of my suburb – shouting, honking, cheering, impromptu-parading and general merry-making. And although I hadn’t watched a second of the finals, I still couldn’t help but swell with pride at the very special thing that had apparently happened while I wasn’t looking.

And while I’m still not a huge fan of hockey (or of any other professional sport, truth be told), my knowledge and appreciation of the sport has come a long way since then. See, I may still not be completely sure what a power play is, but that doesn’t mean I was any less thrilled to see that 35-pound piece of metal being hoisted up in victory last night.

I'll always be from Ohio, but my heart now belongs to Detroit. Go Wings!

(And for the record, Shelly, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the way I say the word “pillow,” and you Michiganders all sound Canadian to me.)


Blogger Mary said...

You were fortunate to miss those years before 1987 when they were good, but choked in the playoffs. I was just telling my husband last night that it's weird to live in Ohio where there's no hockey.

Blogger Abs said...

Well, it's weird that Ohioans don't support their hockey proudly as do those of us raised up right in Michigan. We have Columbus Blue Jackets and certainly the college scene is fun. Come to the nameless BG Ice Arena during a game versus Ohio State, Michigan, or Michigan State, and tell me there's no hockey in Ohio. It may be barn hockey, but it's hockey that'll remind you where you came from, Michiganders!

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