Mike Ulmer has worked for seven news organizations including the National Post and, most recently, the Toronto Sun. Mike has written about the Leafs for 10 years and wrote Captains, a book about the club’s greatest leaders.
Like the Maple Leafs, Raptors, TFC and Marlies I am in the memory business.
Think of a memory you’d like to slip into your mental pocket. Let me guess, it involves the Stanley Cup or that sad little Larry O’Brien trophy?
Everyone wants their team to win the Cup or the NBA title. But the long odds of the sports racket, one team in 30 wins, rarely pay in full.
Same thing with the lucky strike in life. Everybody wins the lottery but me.
The rest of your life is what happens when you’re not on your way to a parade down Yonge Street or waiting for Uma Thurman to fall in love with you.
You need to fill your life with memories. Holding a little hand as you take your child to school is as exhilarating as anything that will bring you out of your seat at Air Canada Centre.
It’s just that sports memories last. I can remember the first walk into Tiger Stadium as an 11-year-old, the triple play I witnessed at SkyDome and a particularly sensational Doug Gilmour goal at Maple Leaf Gardens.
My middle child, the basketball player, has been on hand for a clutch Antonio Davis put-back for a win and a night’s worth of drives to the basket by T.J. Ford. Not too bad for 13.
Vacations are about accruing memories. No vacation would be more memorable than one featuring wall-to-wall sporting events.
Here’s the problem. My wife chafed through Saturday nights on the farm. Hockey lovers monopolized the television. Because she has stubbornly refused to undertake the necessary therapy, she hates spectator sports. A pilgrimage of ballparks with the three kids in tow appeals to her as much as a tour of Canada’s 10 top penal institutions. The kids, too close to infancy and her nurturing love to recognize her deep disillusionment, agree totally.
And so, our vacation was built around a tacit understanding. This summer’s trip to Halifax and Prince Edward Island was to be heavy on theatre, museums and freckle-faced girls with precocious vocabularies and noticeably light on seven foot guys in shorts.
The deck was stacked even more by the inclusion of my mom and mother-in-law in our happy band of caballeros. Six females and me for two weeks. It was a steel wire cage match kind of vacation, more a cry for help than actual time away.
Glad to tell you I sucked it up. I learned not to recoil when I heard the words “cute little shop.” I got up first to slip the sports section before the others stirred. I stashed the sports in the bathroom and, like Britney Spears, began attracting attention for going to the bathroom so often and coming back in a euphoric haze.
There were some manly junctures. At the Citadel, I immersed myself in military tactics and strategy that might have poured out of the mouth of Sam Mitchell or Paul Maurice.
Before the kids knew it, I had slipped into Halifax Metro Convention Centre just to see rows of seats that didn’t move through waterways.
But mostly, my wife and I built memories, at Peggy’s Cove, in Charlottetown, in Halifax and points in between.
It’s nice to be back in the churn of the sports world. I project six or seven more wins for the Maple Leafs this season and there is no shortage of people who will give an opinion.
But 14 days spent cheek-to-jowl with my wife, kids, mom and mother-in-law has only left me hungry for more. As I sit down and begin to work, I miss them.