About a year ago, I met a guy named Stuart while working in a local bar. Our eyes met across the tequila-smothered surface, and I spent the rest of the night plying him with shots as a good bargirl would. On our first date, three ‘make or break’ facts emerged. One: Stuart was an ice hockey player, a sport I know absolutely nothing about. Two: Stuart is a loyal Anaheim Ducks fan, and has been for over seven years. Three: We had started dating at exactly the right time; it was the start of the NHL season, and he was just so excited to share it with me.
As our romance blossomed, so did the time spent watching and reading every single game, blog and news update. My Google Chrome favourites ‘ducks.nhl.com’ over any other duck-related Google search and, believe me, there are many. Breakfast in bed? We were joined by Saku Koivu. Romantic candlelit dinner? We made it a party – left, right and centre. Mini-break to Berlin? Who needs Brandenburg Gate and currywurst when we have Ryan Getzlaf and some cheap popcorn?
It was midway through this mini-break that I decided to face my reality. If this relationship was going to work, I had to learn about ice hockey, and I had to become a Ducks fan. Stuart brushed remnants of salty popcorn from his increasingly unruly beard (he had to support the players, after all), and in the time it takes Cogliano to cross the rink, he had created a ‘Hockey 101’ poster for my perusal. I learnt about the rink layout and game time, player descriptions, icing, penalties and why we should really like Bruce Boudreau. All was complemented by pausing games at specific points to show how the Ducks players executed forechecks, line changes and power plays to perfection.
I was hooked. I loved the bold colours, the tension during shootouts, the crazed fan’s cheers and exasperated sighs, and most of all, the crisp sound of skates on ice. As the Ducks ventured further into the Stanley Cup playoffs, I even handmade a ‘Holy Ducks’ prayer flag, reminiscent of the Nepalese prayer flags. Sadly, my efforts came a little too late. We were out of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and now our Holy Ducks prayer flag hangs limply on Stuart’s noticeboard, waiting for next year’s victory. Next came free agency, which caused Stuart a bit of stress. But, as I kept on reminding him, everyone needs a bear killer on their team.
The months between the Draft and preseason games were tough. Coping mechanisms included watching Disney’s The Mighty Ducks every morning and night, listening to Ice Ice Baby by Vanilla Ice, downloading the Ducks mobile app, or just going back to that tequila-smothered bar surface and waiting for September to come round. Now, four months later, preseason games have begun and, as the roster changes, so does our relationship: We have moved in together.
As a ‘Date Night’ idea, Stuart proposed that we buy some cheap cereal bowls and paint them together. What a romantic, creative and economical idea, I thought. We can share an intimate evening together without the company of the Ducks. As I dabbed my paint brush into the red acrylic pot and delicately started to construct a flower design, I noticed Stuart outlining an all too familiar emblem onto his bowl face. His bowl design was a tribute to the team, adorned with both the new and old logo*.
Having become an enthusiastic Ducks fan myself, I supported Stuart’s source of creative energy. Once finished, I suggested we write a themed message on the bottom of our bowls, etching our love and truly making our house a home.
This is mine: "I love you (plus cereal)."
This is Stuart’s: "I love Corey Perry #10 (plus cereal)."
I’ll let that sink in.
*Stuart is eager to add that, if you need any additional merchandise, do not hesitate to get in touch.