The next few months was smooth sailing. Kayla and I hung out almost every day and it seemed like we might have backed up a little bit, but in a good way. We got to really know each other. Sure, she still has her happy hands, and we’d have rockstar make-out sessions, but it always ended there. Ending before anything regrettable could happen. Before we gave something away, we could never get back. It does make me happy that Kayla feels the same way, that sex is special, and not just something you do to get off. I warned you before, that I’m weird. Well maybe Kayla is weird too. 
October creeped in and Mother Nature did grace us with a real Minnesotan autumn. Complete with all of my favorite elements. Kayla and I spent a lot of time in the forest, savoring the beauty and isolation. Exploring, drawing, painting, wrestling, and whatever else we felt like doing. Kayla was earning her own “nature girl” nickname, although I never called her that. Not once did the farm, and another visit, come up. I was grateful for that as well. 
The end of October also brought the much dreaded swim unit in school. In the few months I had to worry about this situation, puberty had still managed to evade me. As it turned out, I was not alone in my lack of development. The empirical evidence I gathered, definitely put me in a minority, but I’m happy to say, I wasn’t the smallest. I can also admit that I thoroughly enjoyed collecting my data, ogling my classmates. I can now walk through the school and tell you what 20 select 7th grade boys are packing. 
The only backlash from the swim unit is in 6th period Spanish, two of the boys from my gym class, started calling me pene pequeño. I had to look it up too. Funny thing is neither of them are particularly blessed either. Side by side, one of my tormentors is barely bigger than I am. The nerve of some people!
In all, it was exciting to see my peers naked. A revelation I did not expect. I would not expect any of them to be too happy about my excitement either. So I kept it to myself. 
November hits with a couple of big events in my life. First, I become a teenager. Another milestone in the game of life. Second, bantam hockey. I graduated from pee-wee, where I was oldest, only to become youngest again. It’s scary because bantam hockey has 7th and 8th grade boys, so there is a huge size range within the league. There are little guys like me, and huge kids that develop at a young age. In peewee you’d get tall kids, but they were still skinny. In bantam you get monsters. And some of them do want to hurt you. 
By the end of this segment, you will be well tired of hockey, but that’s how it is. 
The only time my father and I see eye to eye, is when the topic is hockey.  It’s a rare glimpse for me, into what I think a father-son relationship should be like. The fact that he and I both love the sport, and the fact that I am very good at it, makes him proud of me. It makes me happy that I can make him proud of me at those times. I can see it in his eyes, watching from the bleachers, with all the other fathers. It’s as if he is saying “yup. That’s my boy.” Sometimes I wish hockey season went all year round. Maybe then I could have a good relationship with my dad. 
I’m not one to toot my own horn. In reality, I’m quite the opposite. But when it comes to hockey, I cannot deny that I have a certain sixth sense, or a greater understanding of the game, than most kids I play against. I can predict what’s about to happen, which gives me a head start on the rest of the players. I also was born with “skates in my feet.”  From the age of three, I could skate fairly well. 
Normally, a player like me would play on the wing. A shifty, speedy forward, trying to score goals. The defense is usually your biggest players. With a long reach, and punishing hits, they protect the net and goalie. They are usually not fast skaters, or very crafty with the puck. In my first year of pee-wee, my coach made the controversial move of putting me on defense. It was unpopular amongst my teammates, and the parents, as I was a fairly natural goal scorer. Defensemen, especially at kid level, don’t score much. 
Coach stuck to his decision, and it didn’t take long for everybody to hop in board with him.  My vision of the game, and my ability to quickly react to the forwards entering the zone, made me a stingy defenseman. Most forwards would lick their chops when they saw me on defense. They would take a few runs at me, and more often than not, end up on their asses, and I would have the puck, going the other way. About half way through the game, they would try to run up the other side of the zone. They were not getting by me. 
Even though my dad enjoyed watching me as a scoring winger, he saw how I controlled the game from my defensive position. He signed me up for a mini-camp on how to check. It was run by an ex-NHL’er.  It was pretty funny. Most of the players at the camp were in high school or entering college. I was the only kid there in my age group. I learned a ton from this camp, and my game improved a lot. The idea behind a check is to remove a player from the puck, thus removing a scoring threat. Most people think the idea of checking somebody, is to blow them up, or injure them. With my small stature, it’s unlikely that I would hurt most players. However, I did learn how to get the most power out of a hit. Once you can put together all the finer details of a proper check, you can more or less, stop a larger player in his tracks, or put him right down to the ice.  I was living proof of that. 
In peewee I blew everybody up and I rarely got bested. I got in the heads of my opponents by just playing clean, legal hockey. I can’t count how many times I was challenged and harassed by other teams. It really gave me a great advantage and a lot of open ice to make plays with my teammates. It also helped that I never reacted to their attempts at intimidation and trash talk. I’d just give them a smile and skate away. I know, shitty! 
Now I was moving into bantam, where my size might become a problem. Bigger, stronger, faster kids would be racing at me now. Tryouts are less than a week away and I really want to make the A squad. Not too many first year bantams make the A team. It’d be my first year on the B team, if I fail. It’d also be a disappointment to my dad. My nerves and the tension have been the central focus in my head. I just need it to start, so I can try my hardest to get what I want.

6 responses to “LIVE THROUGH THIS (part 17)

  1. The bass player for The Big Wu goes by the name of Padre Pienbique. For the longest time I never knew how it was pronounced, and continued with the shorthand of Padre. Finally found out about a month ago, it's pronounced Peen Beak; a reference to his small penis and large nose. Talk about embracing your shortcomings! (Daniel's spanish nickname reminded me of it. It's all about perspective!)

    We're finally getting to the hockey! It seems like a long time since we've heard about the hockey. The thoughts of Daniel's dad only being proud of him when he does well in hockey and the idea of disappointing him by not making the A team are a bit worrisome. But Daniel's got the skills, so it'll be fine!




  2. A big jump in time this time, months. It sounds like an idyllic period of time with two young friends enjoying each other's company without any complications, two with almost perfectly matching interests. It seems an ideal situation for friends this age, maybe unusual but not weird at all. I’m glad Kayla backed off from the scary adventure initiatives, at least for now.

    It’s interesting to have Daniel speak of that time in life when the body changes occur and that results in many young people feeling left behind and inadequate. I can sure relate to that and it brings back many memories. One major memory I have is the constant fear of having some of my excitement become visible in the locker rooms, I just knew it would happen but it never did, thank goodness.

    I did have to look up several words, including the Spanish, because of my lack of worldliness and general ignorance.

    I am glad to see that Daniel’s father was proud of him at least some of the time, hockey being the one thing that Daniel excelled at that his father appreciated and they both enjoyed. Too bad he didn’t recognize and be amazed by all his other talents as I am.

    I’ve never been around hockey and know very little about it but I am learning a lot now from reading what you are writing here. I certainly won’t get tired of what you have to say about it. I’m really looking forward to hearing of Daniel’s further accomplishments in the sport.

    I think the mention of ‘sixth sense’ is significant here, it may really be a fact. I remember an earlier mention of a ‘gift’ that also points in that direction.

    I so enjoy this story! The first thing I do when I get up in the morning is to look for a new part and I’m really happy when I find one. It really makes a nice start to my day. I just continue to be amazed… who would ever have thought a 17-year old could write this well!


  3. Hello David
    Interesting to read about some of the technical background to hockey, and Daniel's path within the sport. I used to be quite a fan when I was younger, albeit that hockey isn't a major sport over here, but I've rather lost touch with it in recent years. I'll be looking forward to hearing more in the coming chapters.

    Love & best wishes
    Sammy B


  4. Sometimes the coach knows best. It's a real shame when parents try to second guess them or make them change their decisions. I happen to love hockey, even as a southerner, and when Richmond had a team (actually, a succession of teams), those games were THE BEST!

    I was wondering if things might jump a bit. You summarized the time in between well, and brought us right up into some important times in Daniel's life. This is top notch writing, D_!

    Peace <3


  5. This section was a departure from the rest of your writing as it was a summary of what happened over a period of time rather than a detailed “showing” of this time period. I think it is OK to do this once in a while, but not all the time, as the golden rule of writing is “show don't tell.” Sometimes it is necessary. I can't wait to see how you do in try-outs. (I have a nephew who is small and blond and he just made a select hockey team, so this entry really hit home!) Looking forward to your next post!!


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