Us Hockeys used to go skating on the weekends. When it was not cold enough, which was most of the time after we had moved west from Alberta, we skated at the hockey arena. Dad would always be in the car warming it up as mom got the last of us snot clogged kids out to the car. We could hear him from inside the house as he shouted out the car's window, "We're leaving with you or without you in two minutes!" He was not fucking around. Often mom and a couple of us in our untied shoes would meet him at the end of the drive after he had driven around the block just to make sure we knew he meant business. "You asshole!" my mom would shout loud enough for the neighbours to hear. "We would have been out in time if (Axel/Beer/Kitty/Sal) did not have to puke their god damn guts out. This is a family for fuck's sake - not the god damn Newfoundland army!"
Dad loved to skate. He would be first on the ice and usually had to be ushered off the rink by one of the teenage rink pigs who were always there to make sure everybody was skating in the right direction and being polite. He still wore the skates he wore when he played the wing with his army team. CCMs.
Mom could skate pretty well. Both mom and dad had grown up in places you could skate outdoors for half the year. Kids back then were on the ice just about every day. Skating was what they did before television and computers turned us all into sad, soft sacks of seal shit. Mom wore figure skates and would sometimes try and teach my sisters a few moves just like some of the other moms.
One time dad saw mom teaching Axel and I some figure skating moves. After my dad saw what was up the whole rink went silent as he chewed out my mom at full volume. "You can't teach my fucking boys to go fucking queer! My God, next thing you know they'll be wanting to play soccer and be taking your clothes out of the closet when they play make-believe! Jesus Motherfucking Christ woman, why do you think I take the boys to watch fucking westerns at the cinema? Why do I take them fishing? You think I like that shit? I take them to make my boys not queer, that's fucking why. You know I've been worried about Beer ever since he started singing along when that god damned Snowfuckingbird comes on the radio." That was the last time mom taught us to go fucking queer and I think it may have been about the time my mom started talking to the Women's Libbers about burning her bra.
Us young Hockeys never could skate as fast as the other kids but I think we had more fun at the rink than anybody. When you are skating you are Free and there is nothing more fun than Freedom. Even the tyrannically coached '72 Russian national team were Free when they were skating.
A few steps above the ice another teenager manned the turntable which provided the music we skated to. He played traditional boring skating music, the sort of crap figure skaters used to skate to; loads of Christmas music in December; Anne Murray's "Snowbird"; and as many top 40 hits the teenage disc jockey could get away with. When I was a teenager myself I used to walk up the stairs to the disc jockey's room and ask him (it was always a him) to play "Snowbird" and "Freebird" back to back.
The arena had a skate guy. Ours was a colourful old fucker. If we brought our skates to him to be sharpened without our parents, when he finished sharpening the pair he was working on, he would look out his window to make sure no parents were within ear shot and ask us, "What do you little shitheads want?"
Later in the day we would watch hockey on tv. Often John Ferguson would be pounding the shit out of someone. "That fucking Frog!" my dad would scream and then take a great big gulp of beer for emphasis. "Why doesn't somebody kill him?"
I grew up dreaming one day I would grow up big and strong enough to kill John Ferguson. The dream did not come true. But at least I did not grow up queer. Dad is real proud.