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Game 22 Afterwords: Well, That Happened

Wednesday night, I am going to get in my car, pick up some family, and we are all going to drive up to our folks’ house for the weekend. We are going to spend some time talking about the food because it’s there in front of us, and we’re certainly going to do a lot of the catching up that happens anytime perfunctory conversation fills the gaps in general dialogue. It’s what you do. But almost inevitably, conversation topics will arise that make a lot of those present very uncomfortable, and that’s when I’ll be searching each and every moment for vestiges of a new thread of potential dialogue in order to relieve the excruciating tension that most of those present are feeling.

I don’t share that rather boring point without reason. That game was itself an uncommonly (or too common, until recently) uncomfortable block of time. You may have gathered some friends around to watch it, or perhaps you canceled some plans with those same folks in order to watch the game. “Sorry, Garrett, the game’s on!” you might have said. They probably thought you were kind of rude, but hey, they knew the Stars were on fire this year, so not only did they forgive you for blowing them off, but they even kept an eye on the television mounted in TGI Friday’s to vicariously watch the game with you. What a bunch of great friends they were!

Except that tonight just so happened to be the night when the Stars were on fire* in the bad way, and your friends all got a big ol’ laugh out of picturing you sitting at home alone in your Matt Climie shirsey, furiously flinging Your Sweet Stars Gear all over your studio apartment. When the empty net goal went in, they joked about the grisly fate surely befalling your Jamie Benn Art Ross bobblehead doll. Not cool to joke about that, friends. Also, it’s a figurine.

*Note: It’s a confusing metaphor, really. Being en fuego is good, but going down in flames or up in smoke is bad. I guess you can just say that tonight, the Stars were more like a building that is on fire than a superhero who is on fire, unless it’s Batman, who does not do well with being on fire.

I don’t want to dwell on this game, and most of you didn’t get anywhere near this headline to click on it to begin with for fear of triggering a 2014-2015 PTSD relapse. There were far too many unassisted goals that were actually very much assisted, and the Senators‘ goaltending came up huge to keep the game out of reach on the relatively rare high-quality chances that did head their way. In fact, the Stars didn’t really generate much more than Ottawa, SOG counter notwithstanding. Anderson faced seven high-danger chances, and the Stars’ goalies faced six. Sure, the Senators didn’t even bother with low-quality shots–they only had three(!) to the Stars’ 18–but would you bother to get good zone time if the other squad was gift-wrapping chances a month early like they did tonight? No. Instead, you would make the circus saves that Anderson did, knowing that the hockey gremlins would derail any shot into an open net, much to Spezza’s chagrin.

Hey, maybe this will help. Think of this game as that great joke you’re going to tell everyone on Thursday. You get all excited because it’s way funnier than anyone else’s jokes usually are, and oh man, no one’s gonna see it coming, although you have hyped the joke up a bit, but still, a lot of people have other heard rumblings, so they’re skeptical about just how great this joke really is. Predictably, everything goes wrong. Your Goofy Cousins John and Jyrki interrupt you twice before you even really get started, but then you start to set the hook again and things are going well, right up until Great Uncle Eaves hears you say the word “platitude,” which reminds him of the time he saw a feral platypus on a vacation in Surinam. Okay, that’s fine, I can still command the room, you think to yourself.

And that’s when your distant cousin Tim just can’t take it anymore. “Hey, I want to tell a joke!” says Tim. You try to protest, but Tim distracts everyone with his toy microphone while his identical twin ties your shoelaces together. “Just until Tim’s joke is over,” you hear as you get up off the now-gravy-stained floor.

It takes almost two minutes, but that’s more than enough for everyone to be quite disenchanted with jokes. You finally untie your shoes and get back up to the table, but everyone’s expression has changed. After some mild trepidation, you start to resume your joke, but again, Goofy Cousin John (he’s usually so great!) has something to say about that. He is only trying to help, seeing your popularity with the family foundering before his eyes, but oh John, today is just not your day. In another moment of over-exuberance, John knocks over the green bean casserole, and it trips onto the formerly beautiful carpet. Later, John will sort of get thrown into your Uncle Kari’s head during an ill-conceived wrestling match, putting your uncle out of commission for the day. Your grandma makes everyone promise never to tell a joke at Thanksgiving again.

You’re in the kitchen later, doing your duty as a good kid and helping to clean things up. You hear the neighbors (the Benns) whispering something to your young brother Tyler, and as you get closer, you catch one of the funniest knock-knock jokes you’ve ever heard. Hey, you say to yourself, Hey, maybe that’s the key–keep it simple I’ll try that! You should know better by now, but you are a brave soul, and you have had your moments in the past. Laughter is the best medicine, and you are on your deathbed right now. Time to inject some adrenaline straight into the ol’ aorta, right?

Well, good news: you catch some of the relatives by surprise on the patio, and they give you a chuckle or two. Hey, you’re not doing so bad! Now you go for the really funny joke you saw the Benns tell earlier, but you stumble over yourself in haste, and only the Benn’s reappearance is able to save the joke (they care deeply about the joke, too). Folks are finally relaxing around here, looks like. Maybe Thanksgiving won’t be a disaster after all! You head into the family room to show all the folks just how witty you’ve become, and that is when your older brother Alex shows up. Alex knows a thing or two, and he’s been here before. Maybe that’s why he takes pity on you and intervenes, or maybe it’s just bad judgment. Either way, Alex tries to force a pun into your jokestream, and it just takes the wind right out of the sails. No one wants to hear puns after what’s happened today, and you are cast right back out of the room to think about what you have done, going against Grandma’s wishes about Thanksgiving jokes.

You hear the Benns appealing for you behind the door, and despite some soft chortling, they do not relent. Everything has collapsed around you, and it’s all you can do to refrain from chucking that last tasty roll you’ve been holding right out the back door. Frustration mounts, and you can’t take it anymore. You open the door and throw the (buttered and delicious) roll with all your might at the bird bath in the garden, but that’s when the crazy gardener Andy dives in front of it for no apparent reason. The roll hits him in the chest, after which he proceeds to chuck it right back at you, over your shoulder, and right into your dear, sweet grandmother’s favorite ceramic plate, which shatters, bringing everyone back into the hallway as you stand there speechless while the buttered roll slowly slides off the remaining plate fragment and onto the carpet. Andy cackles somewhere outside as he runs back to his shed, but everyone just stares at you. You have nothing to say.

This game was kind of like that.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Talking Points