Gospel according to the Holy Puck
(Madame Ginette Tremblay relève de nouveau un défi peu commun : traduire en anglais des chroniques de Sophie Torris, ce qu’elle avait déjà fait l’été dernier. C’est à l’intention de lecteurs anglophones qu’à l’occasion des Fêtes, notre traductrice s’est efforcée, avec succès, de rendre dans une autre langue le verbe agile et peu commun de Sophie. Cette semaine : Gospel according to the Holy Puck — L’évangile selon la sainte Rondelle…)
“Let’s go, Shoot the thing! Take the puck from him. Come on! Skate, skate! Keep goin’! C’mon!! Patriots, Go!” There I am in immersion at the Dolbeau Mistassini Arena. I learn fast. I’ve just joined the ‘Supporter Mothers’ choir and I chant their creed among fog horns, bells and kestrels. There are twelve of us, standing on the bleachers, displaying, high and proud, our little angels’ hockey sweater, repeating relentlessly the same string of litanies:” C’mon!! Go, go, and shoot the puck. Take it from him. Come on!! Skate, skate! Keep goin’! C’mon! Patriots, Go!!” while on their side, the fathers in cenacle punctuate their Molson-French fries with comments on each action of praise on ice.
If I remained at the door of arenas for so long, it might be out of loyalty to the round ball of my childhood. Hey dear Cat, one doesn’t change religion out of the blue, particularly when one knows that hockey in Quebec is a vocation. But there it is, my son was born here and he knows how to chant litanies. Therefore, he finally succeeded in converting me and I was thus baptized this weekend. Believe me Cat, it was a cultural shock to see him glide on the immaculate whiteness of the tournament skating rink bearing on his back his French father’s name. The fact that he wears the Patriots’ sweater and Maurice Richard’s number 9 is already an astounding oxymoron, but that all is sponsored by doughnut holes can solely be the act of a maliciously divine intervention. I confess dear Cat that I am already amused by imagining that one day perhaps, before a game, my offspring, hand on heart, will sing the ‘O Canada, our home and native land’.
While waiting for stars to line up in that sense, I would like to revert to this comical cultural immersion. Hockey is not simply history of shorts and spikes and, unfortunately, there is no breviary for Dummies. As I am at the genesis of the adventure, I had to observe, as Judas would have, my neighbors and figure out how to verbally protect my little angel. Because the Saint-puck can leave stigmata, plastron, shoulder pads, shin pads, elbow pads and butt protector have quickly transformed our delicate cherubs into husky pre-teens that are surely not sweating holy water. And so, I promptly learned that a hockey pouch must be given Extreme Unction of Febreze regularly to avoid unholy odors.
After the passage of the Zamboni ‘popemobile’, my son under the doings of an unprecedented profession of faith, “Go Lou, shoot the puck putainnnnn!” does during the third period a fantastic ascension all the way up to the opponents’ sacristy and he shoots the puck as an offering exactly where it should go, despite an astonishing genuflecting gaoler. The hero of the Holy Trinity (he’s left winger) is consecrated star of the game. While on side of the ice, twelve Pietas carry their cross, on the other, twelve Madonna are in bliss.
But that is not all dear Cat. The rite goes on once the game has ended; the whole family strung out in a long procession behind the closed door of the locker room, forbidden during the gospel according to St-Denis (the coach of the Patriots). And the usual clamours and other rallying uproars all the more enthusiastic when they are victorious, a sign that parents may at last enter the sanctuary to distribute in turns the usual blessings.
It is not the end of the festivities for we are in a tournament; the Patriots will be confronting another parish’s team tomorrow. I can therefore, before hearing the matins, continue my immersion. Thus, all the motels of the area are crowded with minor hockey teams from all over, assaulting the hallways and where ‘happy hours’ are being organized. And so, I find myself and 23 other adults gathered in a small room, on and around the bed. The buffet is set around the washbasin, each contributing to it. Take this, all of you and drink of it! Several of these conclaves take place on the different floors while apocalypse is in full swing in the hallways. Nobody seems bothered by the commotion. To a tiresome soul’s repeated sermons, we answer that it is tournament night and that is how it is.
At daybreak, it is mystery of faith! Mini hockey games start again in the motel corridors while a few fathers, in their birthday suits, try to regain some authority and repatriate their offspring on their respective pillows.
And while I make my way along the endless corridor towards my breakfast, incense of hockey pouches drifts from half-opened doors, like a prayer begging the return to the arena.
Ginette Tremblay is a Master of Arts student at the University of Quebec in Chicoutimi. Aside from her research interest in Shakespearean studies, Ginette holds a B.A in TESL and is currently teaching English as a second language at Cegep de Jonquiere.