Jennifer LoveGrove reads from her book The Dagger Between Her Teeth (ECW Press) April 16, 8 pm, at the Victory Café (581 Markham). Rating: NNNNN
I grew up hating hockey in a two-stoplight hockey town. My adamant teenage stance had nothing to do with the game itself, the rules and structure of which I was ignorant. It had everything to do with the guys who played hockey. In the complex and immutable identity politics of high school, the punks hated the jocks and the jocks hated the punks. Inter-clique mating was unheard of. Besides, the OHL-wannabes were welcome to their tight-assed Jordache puck bunnies. Moreover, hockey reminded us of our fathers, whom we also, naturally, hated.
That was then, and now I'm about to turn 30 -- a milestone that brings with it a young woman's sexual peak. And unrelenting horniness, particularly when single, can lead to unpredictable preoccupations. Yes, I confess that I've become obsessed with hockey.
I now understand the rules and subtleties of the game. I know what "the short side" is, and "offside" and "icing." In September I was at the first Leafs pre-season game in Ottawa. I watch TSN's Smell The Sweat with near-ritualistic, breathless devotion.
Friends who aren't NHL-aficionados implore me to explain my new fixation. Valiantly, I try. I use words like "ritual," "community," "gender dissolution" and "Hayley Wickenheiser." I try patriotic nationalism, but my friends know the shameful truth: despite my staunch anti-Bush posturing, I don't even know all the lyrics to O Canada.
My fascination with the game itself is genuine, but the real obsession is my shameless objectification of the players. It has to do with physicality and aggression, the thought of a large, hairy, sweaty, über-masculine forward, heavy with muscles, tying me down on a four-poster bed (an antique wrought iron one, easily afforded on a seven-figure NHL salary).
To be specific, I'm obsessed with our Toronto Maple Leafs. OK, the real truth is, I'm obsessed with the very sexy #39 faceoff alpha male, Travis Green. No, not a first-line superstar, but still my favourite. My friends and acquaintances, male and female, queer and hetero, all want to know why. While a few concede to understanding my lust, the more forthright ask bluntly, "So, you really find that guy attractive?"
Yes. Oh, yes. Mostly, it's the lips. I swoon over pouty male lips. Not on guys who look like they'd get carded buying a six-pack of Stella at the beer store, but on fully grown men. Men who are much larger than I am, and could never be mistaken for "boys." Six-foot-2 and 200 pounds, Travis Green is much larger than I am, and he has the kind of saucy lips I can imagine in all sorts of compromising positions. I should know -- I get a good look at them (OK, on television) almost every game, since he always seems to have his mouth open, in a look of slight confusion or alarm.
But it's more than just those perpetually wet lips and supersize masculinity. He has an almost sweet-and-sensitive look about the eyes. I'm convinced that he spends his time on the bus between away games writing terrible poetry. I'm a writer; I can tell.
Positive and excited about Travis Green's affinity for contemporary poetry, I eagerly sent him a copy of my book. I included a note assuring him that it was brimming with sex and violence, so he'd be sure to appreciate it. And who hasn't fallen in love with a writer after reading a particularly brilliant book? No, I did not forget to include my e-mail address.
Clearly, my newfound devotion to our national sport has progressed beyond the passive. It's not just about hoping for Travis Green penalty-box close-ups, or that elusive locker-room interview where he'll be sweaty and shirtless (profusely hairy-chested, of course), mumbling the PR-penned standard, "Well, we just go out there and give 110 per cent. It's all about teamwork." No, I've gone beyond the barstool now -- I bought myself a pair of hockey skates. Gorgeous, sexy, black hockey skates.
Before the ice melted, I practised every day. It's much more empowering and liberating than any of my other New Year's resolutions, like yoga, for example. After a month, I progressed from wobbling giddily while clutching the elbow of my seasoned hockey-playing friend to manoeuvring dextrously around giggly teens in designer jeans and (ugh) figure skates. I can now skate backwards with an undeniable degree of control. I hardly ever fall down. I know I shoot right, not left. And I know what that means now. I've never felt sexier.
Sure, Travis Green has his faults. His bio on the Leafs Web site says he's "a big fan of Garth Brooks." Well, I'm sure if I sat him down and unlaced his skates and played him some Bikini Kill, let's say, or Le Tigre, when I got through with him he'd be a big fan of Kathleen Hanna. The Web site also says he's married, but again, all that means is that he hasn't met me yet.
Travis Green is the best boyfriend I've ever had. He has never disappointed me. Sure, he's missed some passes here and there, and maybe even broken a rib, but that's not the point. He's never fucked any of my friends behind my back, he's never stood me up, never come too quickly, never not called when he said he would. His lack of response to my book? The only explanation I can think of is that, sadly, he can't read. But again, I could fix that, too.