Mario, can I come over?
The year was 2009. The Apprentice was five years old. Barack Obama was inaugurated President of the United States. The world economy was in the crapper, (that’s a technical financial term, btw). H1N1 Flu was named a global pandemic. Michael Jackson died in his home. The Pittsburgh Penguins competed for (and won) the Stanley Cup.
We are a sports-minded family. We lived for a few years in Pittsburgh and cheering for the Penguins just kind of rubbed off on us. This particular evening, JB and Apprentice were watching one of the championship games between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Detroit Red Wings. Out of nowhere, Apprentice turns to JB, “Daddy, I want to do that.”
“What? Do what?”
“That,” he says, pointing to the television, “what sport is this again?”
“Hockey. You want to play hockey?”
“Yes, I want to play hockey (saying it ever so slowly, to be sure he has the pronunciation correct). I want to do that.”
Keep in mind, that despite his dearly departed Grandmother’s pleading, (she LOVED her Buffalo Sabres), JB never learned how to skate. We had never attended a NHL game or AHL game. In fact, we had never taken the kids to an ice rink, inside or outside. Where was this coming from?
The Apprentice certainly could play hockey. He is built like my father, which is to say he is built like a German Mack Truck and accidentally breaks things on a regular basis because he forgets how strong he is. Football coaches have sized up the Apprentice, (yes, at 5 years old), and (with a sparkle in their eye) have informed us that we have a linebacker on our hands. The Apprentice would have none of it. He wanted to play hockey. I talked with some friends that play and/or love hockey about what to do. I researched a couple of programs and signed up the Apprentice for skating lessons.
When we told the Apprentice that we were moving to Canada, he had two questions. “Will we be by the mountains?” and “Do they play hockey?” Luckily the answer to both questions was “yes” and he was totally, 100% on board. Upon arrival in Calgary, he asked when he started skating lessons. So, as luck would have it, I found a program and signed him up. (Please note sarcasm here. We are in Canada, for crying out loud, its like finding a #12 football jersey in Green Bay.)
“Mario. He seems GREAT. I want to learn about him.” With this, Mid’s eyes perked up, because anything to do with Mario video games is of interest to him. He was disappointed to hear that his brother was referring to (arguably one of the greatest) hockey players, Mario Lemieux. Undeterred, Apprentice goes on. “Mommy, can we go to his next game? When we are in Pittsburgh?”
Oy. I give an explanation that Mario is retired from playing, but owns the Penguins and yes, he can still wear his Flames jersey and be a Mario/Penguins fan. Then, the most adorable, innocent question. “Can I go to Mario’s house? I want to meet him.”
And double Oy. I explain that we cannot simply invite ourselves over to someone’s house and that I highly doubt we could finagle an invitation from Mario Lemieux to come to his house for dinner. He would not be denied. “Okay. Then let’s invite him to our house.”
So, Mario, if you read this.. wanna come over?