It’s Saturday night and we’ve just finished dinner. Sarah glances at her watch. “Oh my gosh, we’re missing the game.”
“It’s okay.” I assure her, “I’m taping it.”
Sarah and I have become big hockey fans over the past few years. Actually, we’ve been fans for a long time, but since she’s been living at home, we’ve been watching more and more games. We root for the Washington Capitals, even though we live in Connecticut. I’ve never been able to give up my childhood teams. As a kid, I rooted for the Caps from their very first year in the league, even though they were a truly hapless team back then. I’ve stuck with them over the decades as they’ve become first just respectable, then good, and now one of the top teams.
For a while, we only watched when they were on TV in the New York area. Then my nephew showed me how to find the “free” live stream. Having access to every game was a big temptation. I started watching much more regularly. The fact that the Caps happen to be a very good team who wins regularly and makes the playoffs every year makes them even harder to resist.
It’s time to get ready.
Step One: I dash upstairs to get my jersey (I know, they call it a sweater in Hockeyland. I call it a jersey). Sarah grabs hers, and we head to the basement. Farley seems interested tonight, so we get him suited up, too. He has something that’s a cross between a vest and a cape. He likes it. He doesn’t have a number or a favorite player’s name on his back, but he looks like a fan. Nancy is not a hockey fan. She enjoys an in-person game, but at home she prefers the less dramatic, Guy’s Grocery Games.
Step Two: We plop down in our usual positions. I’m in my bouncy Ikea chair, and Sarah and Farley are sharing the couch. We turn on the TV and switch to the DVR. The Caps are playing a New York team, so we can watch on honest TV tonight. Unfortunately we have to listen to the New York announcers. Very biased.
We’re about 35 minutes behind real time. This is good. We’ll be able to fast forward through commercials and at least the first intermission.
Step Three: We both put our phones away. This is important for two reasons. One, it prevents us from accidentally seeing the score, but more importantly, I discovered during the 2018 Stanley Cup-winning season, that having my phone out during a game was very bad luck. I discovered this early in the first round of the playoffs, when, as I texted with a friend during the game, the Caps lost badly and fell behind two games to none. I blamed myself. Fortunately, the coach didn’t find out. He has a bit of a temper. Also fortunately, by correcting my habits, I was able to guide the team to its first ever championship. Since then, it has been a strictly-enforced rule. Sarah has negotiated for phone rights during intermissions, but that’s it.
Step Four: I grab the remote. This too serves multiple purposes: First, and most obviously, it allows me to do the fast-forwarding through commercials, but second, and equally important, it helps the players with their focus. They might be worried that I’ll switch to the Grocery Games. Anyway, whenever I hold the remote, they play much better…except when they don’t. But that was probably just a flukey thing, or maybe the batteries were weak.
Step Five: I press Play…and they do.