WHERE EVERYONE KNOWS YOUR NAME: My voyage first started off visiting my cousin and his family in Red Deer for a night that included taking advantage of lax liquor laws to watch the Olympic men’s hockey gold-medal game at one of my cousin’s watering holes. It was a bit of a hole-in-the-wall bar, to tell you the truth. But I wasn’t there for the ambiance. I was there to watch hockey with my cousin.
The waitresses were quite friendly for the 5 a .m. game time and, low and behold, the bar owner was a cousin of a guy I was watching on the tube, Ryan Getzlaf. A young woman who joined our table also worked on Getzlaf for her masseuse training. Given I was only one beer in at the time, and my cousin and I had yet done the ritual of a shot-a-goal for Canada, I don’t think the stories were made up to play on a man in a hazy state. Getzlaf grew up in Saskatchewan and played his junior hockey in Calgary. If these people were pulling my leg, they could have used a less obscure reference in making a connection. I guess there always is six degrees of separation with the people you meet in your life where it turned into fun night (ooooopss…morning) out.
KID N’ PLAY: I’ve got to learn a few things about my niece Kinsley and my nephew Kendon in my week in Edmonton. Kinsley is just starting her formative education years and she is not interested in Barbies, One Direction or pony rides…she’s interested in zombies.
A game she plays on an iPad is something called Plants vs. Zombies and she was infatuated with the T-shirt I was wearing of a zombified Pillsbury Dough Boy moaning ‘Graaaaiiiiinnnnnsssss’ (get it?). A half hour conversation ensued from my niece inquiring how the Pillsbury Dough Boy got into his current state in which she further asked if the condition could be reversed. Don’t worry, there were games of hide-and-seek, tea time, and hanging out in her play tent, but there aren’t many girls out there barely in their Kindergarten years who would supposedly rather be watching Walking Dead than Barney.
LISTEN CLOSELY: My nephew Kendon is deaf in one ear as a result of a non-fully formed ear at birth. But it has not slowed him down a bit, as a child with boundless energy constantly running around the room. I got to see a perspective school for the deaf he may be attending during a play session which I attended along with my sister.
He was the most animated one out there in all the activities, shaking his money maker when music would start up. When I think he’s ready for it, I’ll show him my shopping cart, card dealer and mosey. It’s funny, it’s usually the grandparents and uncles and aunts who are seeking out the hugs in which young kids begrudgingly oblige. Not Kendon, he seeks out the hugs. Midway through many conversations with my sister or brother-in-law, Kendon would jump up on the couch and give me a big squeeze. People can worry all they want that Kendon may get bullied a little later in life for being different, but all we have to listen to is the matters of the heart, and Kendon is well on his way to discovering the true joys of life.
KNOW WHEN TO WALK AWAY: Got to do some gambling at the River Cree Casino and in my two brief Blackjack outings I got to see all the ups and downs. Just as I was coming off winning $200 in my first trip to the casino, I had just as quickly lost that money the next day before eventually pulling myself out of the hole to a $50 profit. Knowing how lucky I was to arrive even at that $50, I yanked my chips off the table even though I was on a roll. Be content that a $50 gain was a pleasant kiss good night on the cheek from the Girl Next Door instead of a morning after of regret lying next to Bea Arthur in a $200 loss. Keep your goals modest in winning with maybe a free fun night out with friends and you increase your chances of winning at least something with your law of averages.
BEING A SPORT: Got to take in an Edmonton Oilers hockey game and an Edmonton Rush lacrosse game and I must admit, I enjoyed the Rush game more. Here before my eyes, I was watching multi-million dollar athletes in hockey get outplayed once again against an offensively-boring team in the Minnesota Wild on Edmonton’s voyage to a top-three pick in the NHL Draft again. Taking in a lacrosse game for the first time, I noticed they played Rage Against the Machine…while play was going on. A fight broke out in the first 20 seconds in which the announcer commented the home team player got ‘five minutes for throwing them’ why the visiting team’s player got ‘five minutes for taking them.’ I have no idea how lacrosse is supposed to be officiated, but apparently short of you getting your limb chopped off, they don’t call anything. About the only regret I had about the Rush game which was exciting with a close score, was I was one weekend off from a promotion in which I would have got to meet the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders. My cousin’s girlfriend would have arranged it, doing promotions for the team.
Those cheerleaders and Kelly Bundy off of “Married With Children” were the ones that helped me reach puberty in my formative years.