Friday, September 17, 2010

The Gahden (A Melancholy Tale)

Pop knew everybody. Didn't have a dime and took me everywhere. We'd pull up to the Garden parking lot in our old beater. No hope. It was full when I was born, and now I'm in grammar school. I cringed until the face leans out of the booth and it's his nephew in there. Right over there, Uncle Buddy. Where the players park.

You couldn't buy a ticket with money. The Garden would thrum with excitement and no one would miss it for filthy lucre. Pop had four. Conjured them like a wizard at work because the boss was already wearing white shoes for the season and wouldn't sweat in a seat in that hellhole when he could be on the Vineyard. Pop says he'll sit behind the pole and stare at the big rusty rivets but I'd always end up there because I fit.

Uncle Smokey would come and puff his tiparillos and jape with Dad and I was in the company of men and stood in awe like at the foot of marble Lincolns.

There was weather inside there. Cumulus clouds of smoke would meet the smog from the drunken exhalations and clash with the cold front coming up from Bobby Orr's ice under the rickety parquet wood floor.

Then we'd stand and the floor was lost to me, nothing but the boles of men in an endless forest swaying in the breeze of excitement.

I'd kill ten innocent men to go back there for ten minutes.


Gagdad Bob said...

Being a lifelong Laker fan, I naturally regard Boston Garden as the abode of satan where countless evil deeds took place, not the least of which being Don Nelson's demonic shot in the 1969 finals. Being that I was just an innocent lad at the time, it warped me for years.

Still, I know what you mean.

BTW, everyone is surprised that I remember exactly where I was on the day the Lakers finally beat the Celtics in 1985. But the plain fact is that I remember everything that day prior to the alcoholic blackout. It was only anterograde amnesia, not retrograde.

Not entirely unrelated, but one of the big reasons I count myself as a lucky man is this: today is my wife's birthday. Sensitive man that I am, you know what I got her? Some great tickets to the Kings home opener, which she would actually prefer to shiny objects, dead plants, or pointlessly expensive meals.

Andy said...

LA Kings, Bob? Like, as in, hockey? Very nice. First Sippican warms me by throwing a nod (again) in the direction of the last professional sport with any integrity, and now one of his astute readers (and his undoubtedly lovely wife) show some allegiance to the same. A good day, indeed.

Gagdad Bob said...

Yes indeed, the KIngs. My five year-old son is even a face painter.

SippicanCottage said...

Gagdad- My nephews live in Venice and play hoop down at the beach and hold their own, so I know all about Laker fans. Happy birthday to your wife.

More or less no one we knew gave a tinker's cuss about the Celtics back then. We just went to the Bruins games. Hell, we went to the (now defunct, or moved, or something) Boston Braves minor league hockey games more than the Celtics.

We used to go to the Red Sox games, too. Nobody gave a crap about them, either, back then. Fenway was half-empty all the time.

Gagdad Bob said...

I wasn't a hockey fan back then -- really, not until the arrival of Gretzky in LA. Some people say that in the history of the game, the only player comparable to Gretzky is Orr (even though they obviously played different positions). Now I wish I could have seen both men in their prime....

Gagdad Bob said...

I just looked up Orr's career on Wiki. Unbelievable. If he were healthy, he would have been too good for the league.

Andy said...

They say Lemieux might have bested Gretzky, if not for little things like Hodgkins disease. I am just old enough to have seen a bit of Super Mario play, and it is certainly not a stretch to say that he may have retired from a full career with numbers better than the Great One. Plus, he was a physical presence that the much slighter Gretzky could not be.

SippicanCottage said...

Gagdad Bob- You're making me weep, though it is not your intention.

Boston was (is) a small, insular place. Bobby Orr once showed up at my Uncle Smokey's house, and my lovely cousin Cathy kissed him on the cheek for a picture, and even though it's in black and white, you can see him blush. There's a few hilarious polaroids my aunts have lying around of that, and Ken Hodge sitting at the kitchen table with the parish priest, looking lost, and so forth. What sort of potentate was my uncle to merit a visit? I dunno; I think he drove a bread truck back then.

I can still hear my Uncle Smokey call me "Greggie" and clap me on the back and laugh like ten Santas.

Anyway, here's Robert Gordon Orr, Oh Yeah, now with the execrable soundtrack removed.

Gagdad Bob said...

When I mentioned Bobby Orr to the wife this morning, she immediately directed me to that photo!

Gagdad Bob said...

And isn't it interesting that both Orr and Grtetzky are as humble and gentlemanly fellows as you will find in all of sports. As a parent you want to say, "just be like that."

Andy said...

Thanks a ton, fellas. Now I'm going to be stuck inside watching hockey videos all day.