Sunday, January 26, 2014
The Hockey Life: Tournament souvenir
Coming down with a cold at least once during a youth hockey season is a given, much like weak rink coffee and that one old referee with a personal agenda. Why? Let me tell you. Any time you bring together a bunch of children, especially those who play hockey, as well as their parents and siblings, millions, if not billions, of nasty cold-causing germs are soon lurking about.
So, as we made our way north about 10 days ago, taking three days to reach the Charlotte, N.C., area, I could feel my first cold of the season coming on. A slight cough. Scratchy throat. Increasing thirst. The tell-tale drip of a runny nose. Singularly, no cause for concern. Combined, though? Houston, we have a problem.
The big difference this time, however, was that I'd go into the tournament with a cold, rather than taking one home as a souvenir. You know what? I didn't feel the least bit guilty, too.
Far too many times, especially when Colin first started playing organized hockey, I'd pick up the sniffles at some rink. Over time, I learned to avoid touching door handles, snack bar counters and pretty much any surface below my shoulders. If this tournament meant, even despite my best efforts to stem the passing of my germs, that someone else caught a cold, so be it.
Trust me, there was far more serious nonsense that went on in Charlotte than the potential for a random passing of a head cold, but you'll have to wait for the book -- a humorous fictional account that may (or may not) draw from facts -- that's kicking around in my mind.
Either way, I digress. This is about a cold, my cold to be exact, and the ability to survive the weekend and nearly 1,500 miles of driving. Please know, though, you don't have to feel sorry. In a way, save for one unforgettable 12-hour period, the weekend wasn't as bad as it could have been.
Of course, cold medicine was a constant companion. Pills filled with an orange-colored liquid for the day, and ones filled with a green-colored liquid at night. So were numerous glasses of orange juice, consumed during breakfast hours at the hotel. If memory serves, I even took an afternoon nap. The biggest help, though, was working the team's penalty box through the four games. If I ever had a fever, I certainly didn't feel it, much like some toes and fingers.
As the tournament wore on (let's just say the highlights weren't plentiful, though Colin did put together a three-game point streak, including a nice breakaway wrister from 20 feet out that beat the goalie on the low blocker side), I felt better, even to the point of enjoying our side trip into downtown Charlotte to watch an American Hockey League game.
As always, there's more to a tournament than your team's games.
By the road home, which touched four states in less than nine hours, the cold was becoming, or so I thought, an afterthought. I wasn't taking nearly as much cold medicine. Tall cups of steaming-hot McDonald's coffee replaced the orange juice. Sneezes, thankfully, were minimal.
Since then, however, the cold has lingered. Can't say that it got any worse, but still. Cold medicine, orange juice and chicken soup are, once again, near-constant companions. I've even taken some daytime naps.
Gee, maybe I did bring home a souvenir cold after all.