Hockey Voodoo

Why must it always come back to sport? Why can’t the world love me for what I’m naturally good at?

“Honey we’ve been through this,” says Samara, “people just don’t give medals out for swearing.”

It’s a bastarding oversight if you ask me.

As an immigrant to Canada, the easiest way for me to integrate seems to be to take an interest in hockey. After all, I’ve already eaten my body weight twice over in poutines and nobody seems interested.

It has not been so easy though. I’ve never been a sports fan. It took me three “hockeys” to stop referring to the game periods as “movements” or “acts”.

But I’m sincere! A month ago, at the dawn of the Stanley Cup playoffs, I officially adopted the Montreal Canadiens (“the Habs”) as my team by placing a modest wager for them to win the cup. Every two days now, I go along to a pub or to my in-laws’ house and marvel at the Habs on the television as if they were exotic sea horses in a tank.

I’m happy to say there’s far more to the Canadian national sport than one might imagine. There’s genuine peril. The referees for instance wear water wings in case the ice should melt and they plunge fifty fathoms.

Excitement is also heightened by Hockey Voodoo: a complicated system of rituals and superstitions surrounding the game. Otherwise sensible Montrealers go around alphabetizing their shirts for luck and pirouetting over pavement cracks.

“Don’t say we’re going to win!” they say, “You’ll jinx it!”

“We’re definitely going to win,” I say, and then they have to go and stand in a corner to quickly recite the seven-times-table while stroking a horse shoe to neutralize the jinx.

You can even, it turns out, directly control the players with your mind.

Focus!” my father-in-law shouts when one of our players takes a shot. And I do it. I do it for Canada.

When I hold my mind in just the right way, that puck is in the back of the net. I just have to be careful not to direct my psychic energy too hard in case I accidentally shit myself.

So far, the gentle guidance of my psychic command has won eight games for us out of twelve. I challenge any skeptic to argue with those statistics.

I don’t think it’s hyperbole to suggest I am the Fifth Beatle of the Montreal Canadiens. For the remainder of the playoffs, the Canadian military, if they have any sense, should organise their troops around protecting my magic brain.

The Habs are something of a national favourite and nobody can quite believe how well they’re doing at the moment. Since they’re ahead, the whole country is holding its breath. It’s a bit like that scene at the end of The Italian Job. Nobody move a muscle. It could upset the balance. “Hang on a minute lads, I’ve got a great idea.”

For the rest of the season, we should leave all our clothes unwashed in case some microorganism living in them has had something to do with the team’s success.

Nobody should get a haircut either, on the off chance that your magic locks are the reason the team are winning.

Woe betide anyone who takes up chewing on the right side of their mouth instead of the left.

Thinking about it now, my hair will be a half millimeter longer now than in the last game. I’d better get a trim.

“Could you take half a millimeter off my hair please?” I’ll gingerly ask the barber.

“Hockey Voodoo,” he’ll say, nodding sagely. He’ll tap the side of his nose enigmatically and not charge me lest he be responsible for my modified bank balance forming an unlucky number.

As a final precaution, I suggest we precisely recreate the circumstances in which the Habs won the Stanley Cup in 1993. We must all wear stonewashed jeans, X Files t-shirts, and too much gel in our hair. I for one will be doing my bit by playing Pogs and stinking of lynx antiperspirant.

Of course, my writing about the situation today has probably jinxed everything. If the Habs lose their next game, you’ll know why. Everyone flick their light switches to the rhythm of the national anthem or we’re doomed.

If I had known sport to be so OCD-friendly, I’d have become a fan ages ago.

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