I think got through the entirety of the NHL playoffs without talking without talking to Fred, a native yinzer who now lives in Columbus.
That almost changed the day after Game Six of the finals, when he sent me an email suggesting we talk just before Friday’s finale.
I try not to be superstitious, but for some reason, I slide into some peculiar habits when it comes to hockey playoffs. I hadn’t trimmed my goatee in the week before the playoffs began, and once they were underway, I knew I couldn’t do it until after they were done. When I planned what I was wearing for Game Seven, I replicated everything I wore to Ruggers to watch Game Four, down to the same boxer shorts.
So when Fred suggested we talk on Friday evening, I said I’d be happy to chat, about anything except that sporting event we both would be watching.
We talked three times on Friday:
1) He called when Mrs. Crappy and I were looking for a place to grab a quick dinner on the way to the Burghseyeview Lounge, where we were going to watch the game. We talked about movies and the fact that if we got to Elizabeth, we were better off eating convenience-store hot dogs than trying to eat at a restaurant.
2) I called him after the first period. I asked him if he was having a nice evening; he said he was.
3) Just after Sidney Crosby handed off the Stanley Cup to Billy Guerin — and just before my phone ran out of juice for the night — I called Fred again. And we were able to finally talk about hockey. And he was as happy as I was.
– – –
Last night was spectacular. As I mentioned before, we spent the evening at the home of Hutch and Jen, specifically in the Burghseyeview Lounge, a perfect set-up for watching just about anything on TV. A gigantic high-def TV is the focal point. There are plenty of seats — and, as it turned out, plenty of room for standing and pacing as well. We even had two taps of Hutch’s homebrew available, a nice red ale and an excellent APA.
We had great hosts, great company and a hockey game for the ages. And after a couple more drinks around the official Championship Burning of the Furniture (an old chair in the BEV Outdoor Fireplace) we headed home, occasionally encountering spontainious celebrations along Route 51. I even got a high five from a chick holding a gigantic Stanley Cup as we drove past.
I’ve experienced this stuff before — many times, in fact, usually in the form of post-Michigan game outbursts in Columbus. This one was especially cool, though, because it was my first real sports connection to my adopted hometown. I’ve been here for two Super Bowl wins, but my own NFL preferences have prevented me from fully appreciating those events.
But I am an honest-to-god Penguins fan — and I have been for a long time — and watching this championship with a group of like-minded friends made it even that much better. Having the pleasure of running around town today and seeing everyone wearing Pens gear — as we were — made it clear: I chose the right place to be.
That was fun, Pittsburgh. Maybe we can do it again next year?