Tuesday, March 8, 2011

"The Curse"

Correction: This posting appeared accidentally last week, but it told me it wanted to be published today. I have listened, and I have republished. If you missed it, this is your lucky day. If you didn't, read it again. You may have missed something.

Okay. Here we go. For some of you, again.

I thought I had beaten it. I was sure it was a thing of the past. I ha hoped that by moving to another country leaving no forwarding address, that I had finally eluded its grasp, that I’d gone “Witness Protection Program” on the problem

But I was wrong.

I have written about this before. How, when I used to watch hockey, which means Maple Leaf hockey, which as the only hockey there was – because I was a Leaf fan, and because those were the only games they showed – every time I’d go out the room, the Leafs would score.

For years, every time one of the great Leaf sharpshooters – Keon, Mahovlich, “The Chief”, George Armstrong, a full-blooded Indian – would put the puck in the net, I’d be in the bathroom, or taking out the garbage, or in the kitchen, making popcorn. I’d hear crowd-roar from the TV room, and I’d know:

I had missed another Leaf goal.

I was happy, of course. But less happy than if I had actually seen it.

I thought about contacting the Leafs, and informing them about my magical power – “I can make the Leafs score; I just have to stop watching the game.” I figured maybe they ‘d give me free seats, and I could go for a hotdog, whenever the Leafs got control of the puck.

But I just let it go. Probably for the best. I mean, it wasn’t like I could control the situation – the Leafs need a goal so I’d deliberately leave the room and they score. It didn’t work that way. The leaving had to be natural. I couldn’t fake having to go to the bathroom, because somehow it would know. But every time I actually had to go,

“He shoots; he scores! Pulford puts it in for the Leafs!”

Time after time after time.

Flash Forward: Half a Lifetime.

I don’t watch hockey anymore. I no longer live in Toronto, and besides, the Leafs haven’t won the Cup for 43 years. In situations of this nature, one’s enthusiasm tends to wane.

Okay, so I get a new computer. My daughter Anna volunteers to set it up, load some programs, download, upload, something with “load.”

I’m sitting there watching, “there” being my office, where the computer is located. I get bored, so I turn on the TV. I switch to the hockey channel, not so much because I want to check out the hockey, but because it’s one channel down from the baseball channel, and I had already seen the show on the baseball channel.

So I turn on the hockey, and lo and behold,

The Leafs are playing.

I immediately get the old thrill, seeing those blue and white uniforms, and the big Maple Leaf, painted at center ice.

I’m one Happy Chappie. My daughter is programming my computer for me, and I’m watching Leaf hockey.

They are playing the Penguins, from Pittsburgh, a city that, when I watched in the old days, did not have a team. The score is tied, one-to-one.

Anna says she can’t concentrate with the TV on. Could I mute the sound, or go in another room? I first mute the sound, but it’s no fun watching silent hockey, so I retreat to the Master Bedroom, which is literally ten feet from my office. I turn on the bedroom TV, and I switch to the hockey channel, where I discover that, while I was changing rooms,

The Leafs had scored.

Well, there you had it. “The Curse” was still there.

It was exactly like the old days. I went out of the room, and the Leafs scored. I couldn’t believe it. But the confirmation was right there on the scoreboard. Before, it was tied. Now, it’s

“Toronto – two; the Penguins, one.”

I watch the game, and in less than a minute, the Penguins tie it up. It is now two-to-two.

Anna calls me back to show me something. I return to my office. As I watch the demonstration, my mind immediately starts to wander, my eyes drawn to the muted TV. I notice the score:

“Three-to-two, Leafs.”

Thirty seconds; that’s all it took. But there it was: I leave the game, and the Maple Leafs score again.

A minute later, the Penguins tie it up. It is now three-to-three.

We are going out for dinner; I am informed that it’s time to leave. I go downstairs. Dr. M is not quite ready. I go into another room, and switch on the TV. (Yes, we have a lot of TV’s.) I turn to the hockey game. I check out the score:

“Four-three, Leafs.”

I just went downstairs! But I wasn’t watching. So, once again,

The Leafs scored.

Thirty seconds later, the shorthanded Penguins – they have a player in the penalty box – steal the puck, and they score. It’s a four-four tie.

I leave the game, and we head out to the car. It feels chilly, so I go back for a sweater. I have apparently left the downstairs TV on, and as Anna, who had turned it off, passes me, she says,

“The Leafs just scored.”

Final tally? Four times, I go away from the TV, and four times – all four times – the Leafs score a goal. And then, there’s this little bonus.

I keep watching three times, and all three times,

The Penguins score.

It was a truly horrifying discovery. It was now apparent that, not only had “The Curse” not disappeared,

It had actually

Gotten worse.


Mac said...

God Almighty, 43 years? You sound like a Scottish Football fan. We're still going on about how we beat Zaire in 1974, and we thought that was us on the way to the quarter-finals.
And then there was 1982, where we had the temerity to knock one in against Brazil 18 minutes in. The consensus was "It's like poking a lion in the eye with a stick - we will pay for this" and sure enough, they battered us 4-1.
We've now evolved enough to be proud of an "early, yet dignified exit." The idea of actually getting through to finals is up there with unicorns.

Dave Olden said...

What a relief!

Here I was thinking the posting had gone all Witness Protection Program on us...