Here's an article I just finished writing for my school paper, people on HF seem to accept good literature, I hope this counts as good literature. Let me know how it sounds.
I Was There. I was Cold. I Was Happy.
It’s Saturday November 22nd; and for the first time in 19 years, I am happy to hear my alarm clock. This piercing melody of ignorance slowly fills my body with anticipation. My eyes open and I eagerly hop out of bed, I look on my dresser, and there they are…the tickets.
This morning out of every morning I’ve ever had the displeasure of experiencing, was special. As I scurried around, crossing off tasks from the to-do list embedded in my head, thermal underwear—check. Wool socks—check. Two pairs?—check. Edmonton Oilers toque—check. I stopped, I took a deep breathe and I picked up my ticket, this moment—this exact moment was when I realized exactly where I was going, exactly what I was about to be a part of.
Enough foreshadowing, let’s fast forward the grueling 90 minutes of traffic and LRT mayhem, and get to the good part. We get off the LRT, every step I take; I get one step closer to my destiny, one step closer to The Heritage Classic. Before we get into the Stadium, I’m going to share a little heart warming story that you can tell your grand-children in 40 years. In a prime example of “Paying it Forward” my cousin was given a $120.00 ticket from either a really lazy or really generous scalper, yes GIVEN a ticket. Here is where the “Pay it Forward” comes in; in a sense of generosity that you can only find in the greatest city in the world, Tempe, Arizona…I’m joking, I’m joking, we all know its Edmonton, my cousin actually traded this $120.00 ticket to a young teenager standing outside selling chocolate almonds for 5 boxes of chocolate. This story made the day that much more special. Now, inside the stadium…
Well, by now my heart is pounding, my feet are freezing, and we still have a good six hours to go before we can again be exposed to anything even resembling heat. We fight our way through the mass crowds which for some reason reminded me of that new Sony Discman commercial when all those musicians are cramped inside a portable CD player; we get to our seats and we absorb the atmosphere, the energy, the unbridled anticipation of 57,167 eager hockey fans. As people started to file in, we heard whispers that league officials were discussing what we all feared, that it would be too cold to play. This brought my heart rate down a few notches and a sudden discomfort hit me, this is when it really got cold.
The Alumni game came and went. I felt so privileged to see so many legends skating on one sheet of ice. Gretzky, Lefleur, Messier, Shutt, Fuhr, the list goes on and on; but somewhere hidden in this joy was a whole in me that could not be filled until I knew for sure that the real game, the one worth two points, was a go…
It’s 4:15 now, me and my Muslim buddies scurry to the concession in a failed attempt to break our fast (this is the Holy month of Ramadan). What stands ahead of us is sheer and utter mayhem, it took us nearly 30 minutes to move about 50 feet. Realizing that we were going to have to break our fast on 5 boxes of chocolate almonds, we turned around and headed back to our seats for the real game.
By now, my feet are too numb to feel, my nose was so red that Rudolph came over to me and was all, “dude, your nose is red”, and I was all “yeah”. But the anticipation kept me warm. To be on the safe side, I dug into my back pack and threw on the clothes I brought with me, I was sitting in nothing but a smile for the previous two hours (ok, I wasn’t, but I will be when I tell this story to my grand kids). To kill the time, before 5:00, me and my buddies munched on the now frozen chocolate almonds and reviewed the first half of the day. A lot of topics came up, most notably, the singing of Paulina Gretzky, and yes men, she’s only 14. So we talked, my buddy mentioned that she looked like she was at least 17, and all of a sudden, I realized, that R.kelly wasn’t that bad of a guy, and that maybe Wayne Gretzky's son and Paulina can go on a double date with R.Kelly and Micheal Jackso..err...ok, I won’t go there.
Anyways, it’s 5:05 now, there is a 20 minute delay, but they announce that the game will indeed go on. Once again, I take a minute to really enjoy what I am experiencing, I look around, I am surrounded by 57,000 of my closest friends, and we are all having the time of our lives.
After an extended delay, both teams come out in their vintage throw-backs, and the game is on. I watched the re-play on CBC, but it really didn’t do the game justice. Although we were sitting in the infamous “obstructed view” seats, we could still see about 98% of the ice surface, and hear every crunching hit echo through the stadium. I was convinced that the Oilers thoroughly out-played The Habs, but something about Jose Theodore’s toque told me that we couldn’t win this one. He stood on his head for a large portion of the game and made the saves that Ty Conklin didn’t. This game along with the alumni game had all the elements I was looking for; close, exciting, good saves, big hits and good times. In the end as the clock ticked down to zero, and the temperature fell to the mid 20’s, I felt good, the Oilers lost, but still, I felt good.
After the buzzer sounded, we agreed that we would fight off Mother Nature for another few minutes so we stuck around for the fireworks spectacular, and Holy Jebus, were they ever spectacular. Coming from a small town, I’ve never experienced fireworks like these ones. Up north, our Canada Day Celebration consisted of our Mayor standing on top of a rusty Ford F-150 with Pop Rocks Fizz in his mouth acting like firecrackers as he hummed our national anthem, ok, maybe I’m exaggerating, but these were really something special. It was a great ending to a spectacular day and a first class event executed to perfection by The Oiler’s organization and The City of Edmonton.
Anyways this concludes a Diary of The most Memorable Day of my life, Sure, The Edmonton Oilers lost, but The City of Edmonton won, The NHL won, we as fans won. And for the lucky handful that got to experience it live, we were a part of something special, so hold on to that, I know I will, I will forever remember November 22nd, 2003; because I was there. I was cold. And ya, I was happy.