In spite of the dismal state of Leaf Nation, I'm still in a hockey mood. Maybe it's because my other favourite team, the Habs (Montreal Canadiens to you non-hockey folk) came back from a 5-0 deficit to win in a shootout. So in honour of the winter that will not end, I offer a little story about our first sojourn into the world of Peewee Hockey Tournaments (cross-post from one of my other blogs - The Writers' Vineyard).
We gathered in the blue light of pre-dawn at – you guessed it – Tim Horton's. Parents cradled mugs of coffee and consulted maps while the boys and girls gathered around a Formica table with their inevitable stash of hot chocolate and sticky doughnuts.
After everyone agreed on a route to the tournament, we ushered the kids out to the parking lot. "Everyone who has to pee, pee now. Anyone who doesn't, pee anyway."
"Who's going to follow us?" Mr. Todd was my former Grade Seven teacher, now on his second marriage. He beckoned his son toward his gigantic four-by-four with its chrome roll bars and license plate that said, "Da Bears." His taste in vehicles hadn't changed since I was the same age as his youngest son.
His boy stopped short of the open door. "Hang on a sec, Dad." He doubled over and puked on the pavement.
"Eww!" My son sidestepped the mess and climbed into our ancient Escort wagon.
"You okay?" Mr. Todd bent down and peered at his son through the dim light.
"Yeah, no problem. Let's ride!"
We drove at the tail end of the convoy – not a wise decision since we didn't have a cell phone and had no idea where we were going. We had to make sure we didn't lose sight of our guides. A thin sheen of salty, dirty water coated the roads and our wipers worked overtime.
An hour into the trip through slick secondary roads, Mark said, "Shit!"
"We're out of washer fluid."
"So we stop and refill it."
"We can't. We'll lose them." Mark squinted at the windshield. "We'd better do something quick or I'll be driving by Braille."
We tried waving at the car ahead of us, but no one seemed to notice. I unbuckled my seatbelt, climbed to the back seat and reached for the jug of windshield washer fluid. Scrambling to the front, I grabbed an empty cardboard Timmy's coffee cup. "Good thing you ordered a large double-double." I poured washer fluid into the cup and rolled down the window as we came to a stop sign. Cold air blasted inside.
As I flung the liquid at the windshield, Mark flipped on the wipers. It worked! For about thirty seconds. Every time we came to a reduced speed zone or a stop sign, we fired another cupful of fluid on the windshield.
As we pulled into Lakefield Arena, the last drops of blue gold trickled from the cardboard cup, which had become rather tattered from the hard grip of my frozen fingers.
In some bizarre way, Tim Horton's saved the day.