The next person to crack a joke about the Leafs parade route is going to be awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy in a most unpleasant way.
You know the joke: the Leafs have won three in a row. Bet their fans are thinking about a route for the parade. There are a few variations, none of them clever, but the gist of the thing is clear enough: you are stupid. Stupid for believing in something for four decades, stupid for watching on television or following on the website. You probably named your kid Wendel.
The parade joke is made with a sort of airy faux world weariness. It is the imprimatur of the self-anointed sporting sophisticate, the fan who stands above the rabble who wear the jerseys of their favourite players and actually go to hockey games. The parade joke is bandied about by sports reporters, Hab fans and anyone who is distrustful of the sheer, unending loyalty that is as natural to Leaf fans as breathing. These cynics can’t be mended. It’s like trying to tell blind people about colour.
They remind me of the words of American theatre impresario David Merrick. “It’s not enough to succeed,” he said. “Others must fail.”
The more success the Leafs encounter, the greater the scorn of the wise guy, That’s why I have prepared 10 responses for the parade route joke. A few of them aren’t terribly clever. Not to worry, they will be more than enough.
1. “Shut up.”
2. “Yes, the route will take it past your house, forever”
3. “Those riot cops are going to need someone to pummel. Just sayin’.”
4. “Anyone still remember the route the Habs used?”
5. “I’ll be partying my keister off. You’re not invited.”
6. “You’re right, it will be awful. If I were you, I’d leave town for at least the next five years just to be safe.”
7. “You know, my Mom is going to the parade. Anything wrong with that?”
8. “It’s not the route for the parade. It’s the route for the first parade.”
9. “Yes, we have the route picked out. Turn left at Versteeg Avenue and follow Giguere Lane to the end. Can’t miss it.”
10. “Parade route, eh. Your kid think that up for you?”
Now, maybe you are a polite person. Perhaps you don’t feel a need to respond to the parade joke. If you are one of those five people, by all means, bite your lip and move along. For the rest of you, let me say this. Five years pining for a playoff that never came carries with it certain entitlements. Fools need not be suffered.