Back when I was 17 I spent a summer working for Manpower, a temp agency. The jobs were mostly office based but the physical ones tended to fall my way, as I was young and presumably strapping. One day myself and another guy were hired out to a small nursery for a one-day job. The gig was unloading a truck and sounded like a nice break from the indoor filing borefests I'd been having. The morning of the job was hot and humid, the temperature above 85 degrees before 10am. We helped the owner unload a small load of bushes while we waited for our main job, and even with the heat it wasn't so bad.
Then our truck showed up. It was a full-sized tractor-trailer, and inside were bags of peat moss. At first that didn't seem like it would be a problem - the bags were only forty pounds, although they were each the size of a footlocker. And so what if the entire trailer was stuffed to capacity with the things? Forty pounds. Big deal.
Well, it turned out that this load had come down from somewhere in Canada that didn't believe in summer because the bags were all frozen. Solid. I can't give you an accurate recalibration on the weight but ye gods they were awful. The owner of the nursery had figured that hiring two dopes at 14 bucks an hour was cheaper than renting a forklift and man, he worked us until we dropped. I have never sweated as much as I did on that day., and that includes playing in a rugby match in South Carolina where the temperature on the field was estimated to be at 104 degrees at kickoff.
Last night, my first time ever as a hockey goalie, came pretty close.
I have always wanted to be a hockey goalie, and having started with all this ice-related nonsense a year and a half ago this moment seemed inevitable. I'm not trying to replace the goalie for the Scurvy Dogs - we lucked out in that category and got a guy who is both very good and infinitely patient with us floundering around in front of him, and I wouldn't dream of trying to push him out. But when he got new pads and offered me a more-than-fair deal on his old stuff, I couldn't resist, and once I'd gotten the rest of my gear (I splurged a little on the helmet because I'd like to keep my head in one piece, thanks) I jumped on last night's opportunity. It was a pickup game, which meant that I played 90 minutes straight. The venue switched from one 15 minutes away to one 40 minutes away, but I got aided by thunderstorms canceling the kids' games and letting me get out a little early. On Route 287 I didn't just see a spectacular rainbow, I saw a DOUBLE rainbow - WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
The play level of the guys in this group is a little above what I'm used to, so I figured on a long night. I managed to get my leg pads on with only one restart, and thank the powers that be for online tutorials. There are more straps on those things than at a bondage convention. I even remembered to put my jock and hockey pants on first. With a nervous sigh, I headed out on the ice. One of my Scurvy Dog teammates was there, and he was nice enough to pelt me with shots during the time I should have been stretching. Then about 90 minutes of non-stop action started, and . . . well, a play-by-play would be pointless. The first real shot I faced beat me waist-high blocker side. Then, through a combination of my defense bailing me out and some lucky flailing, I managed to go ten, maybe fifteen minutes without anything going past me. Well, past me into the net. Plenty went past but were wide. My attempts at butterfly - which a style that focuses at dropping to your knees with your legs splayed out to either side - was more of a caterpillar, but I've been told that gets easier and more comfortable with time. I missed some saves I should have had, stopped a few shots I shouldn't have, and fell in love with my posts, which made a sweet pinging sound each time they kept pucks out. I made a complete and total tactical error by leaving my elbow brace at home - when I'm playing D I have an elbow pad that mimics the support, but my goalie chest/arm armor - there's no better way to describe it - doesn't do that, and by the end of 90 minutes my tennis elbow was screaming from hefting the heavy stick. A puck managed to find unprotected space on the one time I managed to correctly drop into a butterfly, drilling me in the lower abdomen about three inches above my Stanley Cup. At least the ice was cool when I dropped my head to it. I gave up more goals as the night wore on, a combination of getting a little tired paired with players on the other side starting to make cross-ice passes on odd-man rushes - if you don't know what that means, just understand I wasn't good enough to react and make the saves.
I get to do this again next Thursday, as our real goalie is away and I will stand between the pipes as my 2-4 Scurvy Dogs play the 6-0 Rubber Puckies. Am I going to get shellacked? Almost certainly. Will I miss saves that Chaz would have gobbled up? Without a doubt. Will the scoreboard operator take pity on me and stop posting goals once they hit 9? Hopefully. Is it going to be awesome? Absolutely.
Back to the sweating. Before I left I stepped on our scale - 193.1. It was a snacky weekend, I make no apologies. After I got out of the shower at midnight last night? 186.4. Who needs peat moss?