I don’t usually give a lot of thought to what I wear. For anyone who knows me, that’s probably really obvious. Yesterday, though, I gave it some thought. I was going to have a big day, and it involved several different settings. Here’s what I chose: Jeans, Sneakers, a black Washington Capitals cap, and a black long-sleeved t-shirt from my daughter’s college. Understated move. One needs to dress accordingly. I’ll explain.
The first event of the day was a hockey game. I know, this doesn’t sound like a big fashion moment, but hockey fans like to make fashion statements to show their allegiances. Here’s the thing, I’m a Washington Capitals fan, but my daughter and I were going to a game at Madison Square Garden, home of the Caps’ rivals, the New York Rangers. We would be guests. This called for some thought.
I have strong, and not-such-fond memories of the olden days, when I lived in Washington and used to attend hockey games. In those days, the Capitals were really bad. Most people in the Washington area knew that if you wanted to preserve your self-esteem, you didn’t subject yourself to an unnecessary traffic jam on the beltway, an expensive ticket, and a really depressing hockey game. On the other hand, there was a team up the Interstate in Philadelphia that was really good in those days. They referred to themselves as The Broad Street Bullies. This was a source of pride. Yes, they enjoyed being called bullies. All of their games in Philly were sold out. Those fans loved their team so much that they chartered buses and rode down 95 in caravans to Washington, just to invade the Capital Center and turn it into Philadelphia South. Then their team would proceed to destroy the Capitals. Philly Phun…for them. It seemed to boost their self-esteem…a lot.
I made the mistake of attending one of those games. To say that the Philly fans were rude is an understatement. The stands were dominated by orange jerseys, not the red, white, and blue of the home team. More importantly, they were dominated by drunk Philadelphians inside orange jerseys. The few Caps fans in attendance were treated to taunting chants from orange-jersied drunk Philadelphians, and fights in the men’s room (and probably the ladies room, but I wouldn’t know) between orange-jersied drunk taunting Philadelphians and outnumbered, overwhelmed low self-esteemed locals. Not fun.
On Friday I had been listening to sports talk on the drive to work. I don’t really know why I waste my commuting time that way, but that’s another story. One of the callers was relating his horrible experience on Long Island the night before. He is a Toronto fan, and he’d taken his daughter to a game between the New York Islanders and his beloved Maple Leafs. Apparently it was ugly. He’d worn his Leafs jersey and he and his young daughter had been subjected to some serious abuse by the fans who he referred to as “white trash from Long Island.” Ouch. The radio hosts had cut him off at that point and proceeded to critique his decision-making skills. “Why,” they wondered, “would you take your daughter into the Islanders’ arena, wearing a Maple Leafs jersey, and expect to receive polite treatment?”
Long Island fans were not going to suffer an invasion from the north. Part of me understood that. I guess some people would call the man’s actions “provocative.” Then I recalled my childhood experiences. What would you call the Philly fans? I wouldn’t have called them provocative. I would have called them…obnoxious. But I also understood. They couldn’t get into their own team’s arena, so they road tripped to a place where they could see them. In the case of the man and his daughter, what could they have done? If he lives in New York, that’s a long way from Toronto. Shouldn’t he have been allowed to pay his money and watch his team in New York? Should he have to think about what he wore?
Well, I’m not from Philly or Toronto, and I’m not what you would call provocative or an invader type, and I certainly didn’t want to subject my daughter to abuse. Hence the conscious decisions about wardrobe. Sarah was distressed that she didn’t have any Caps gear. I suggested she could wear my Stanley Cup Champions shirt. I didn’t really think someone would pick a fight with her, and I knew she wouldn’t say anything that would lead to a fight. If the atmosphere was hostile, I reasoned, she could always keep her coat on. I, on the other hand, sometimes get a little carried away with my cheering. I decided to only wear a Caps cap. It’s black. It has the Caps logo, and a small insignia of the Stanley Cup that they won last spring. Subtle. I don’t think you’d call it provocative. We survived…without incident. This probably would have been a more interesting slice if I had been more provocative. Sorry.
I sported the college shirt for a different occasion. Later in the day, we planned to meet up with my wife and another family to see a comedy show headlined by John Mulaney and Pete Davidson of SNL fame. Stand-up comedians probably don’t expect their audience to arrive, like hockey fans, in outfits to proclaim their allegiances. In this case, though, my family felt unusually well-equipped for the occasion. Sarah had just graduated from college, and our family had spent four years acquiring a vast wardrobe of logo wear. It’s not often that you can find an overlap between college t-shirts and stand-up comedian names, so we seized the moment.
I know, this “bit” was probably was not worthy of a short story, but if ya got it, flaunt it. I’m pretty sure we didn’t provoke any anger from the Mulaney fans.