Olympic Gold Medal Game – A Mother and Son Adventure
Recently I wrote about the adventure in finding somewhere in Nepal to watch the most recent Olympic Gold Medal Game in between Canada and Sweden.
In that post, I may have referred to the time, 4 years back, when my mother and I set out to find the game in Thailand… this is that story… It exemplifies one of the many reasons why Hockey players make good travelers; blind dedication to ridiculous adventure.
Travelling with ‘The Mother’
As you may have guessed, it can be difficult to travel with me at times. I don’t mean to say that I’m hard to get along with, or stubborn, or picky… but rather the opposite, I’m too friendly, too flexible, and at times, don’t have high enough standards. I know what you’re thinking… how utterly annoying that must be!
There’s a slight chance that in my younger years I wasn’t quite aware of how difficult that can be for other people… the one who opened my eyes to it was my very own, lovable, genetically-predisposed-to-not-judge-me mother.
I won’t get too much into some of the tales of the two of us travelling together, as it was a blast, and we learned to get to know each other in whole different ways. I’ve never been so impressed as seeing this beautiful 60-year-old with back issues jump right into the 25-year-old backpacker mentality.
But, when the gold medal game in between Canada and USA came around, she showed me just how I had underestimated her.
Finding The Game
We were back on the island of Koh Tao, where I had lived a few years earlier. I had asked around and discovered that Choppers bar was going to be playing the game live… it was starting at 3:00am.
I asked my mother if she was going to make it, to which she responded affirmatively.. so I decided that it was probably a better idea to go home and sleep, wake up at 2am and then head out to the game.
Our place happened to be at the other side of the island, so we woke up around 2, got dressed, got some things together and stumbled out to the scooter, climbing on (half-asleep) at 2:30 for the twenty minute drive out to Sairee and the game.
I won’t lie, I was a little concerned as we entered. You see, my mother is not really a heavy drinker. No, no… she’s the type that puts sparkling apple juice in her wine glass at weddings so she can make a proper showing. Despite her objections, I parked about 50 meters away from the bar and we walked over. Knowing, full-well, that there were most likely many people that had never gone to sleep…
Now, I don’t want to say that Canadians are too patriotic when it comes to hockey, or that we have an inexplicable grudge against the USA and thus see them as the biggest rivals… so I just won’t say anything at all.
As we entered the bar, there were close to equal numbers supporting both teams. The puck was just about to drop… everything was going great. The game was an absolute nail-biter as I watched my lovable mother get her trash-talking out… Well, trash-talking might be a stretch… let’s call it her… ugh… erm… repetition of cliches she’s seen in hockey movies I made her watch when I was young. Just picture any lines from ‘The Mighty Ducks’ and you get the idea…. watching her coming up with these in a crowd of drunken, boisterous 20-something year olds was hilarious… and not at all embarrassing…. no, no, it’s not possible for her to embarrass me after all these years… riiight.
At the beginning of the second period the bar owner was called outside to meet the police. Apparently the next day was a full moon which made it a Buddhist holiday and he was breaking the law by staying open. He made the totally achievable bargain with the police that he would turn off the volume, shut all the blinds, and ask everyone to be quiet… if we made more noise, they were welcome to come and arrest him.
So we went from this boisterous crowd to not a sound in the place, with about 60 people watching the game on the edge of their seats… thankfully, half-way through the 2nd period the policemen decided it was just too painful for Canadians (and Americans) to be quiet during such an important game and they decided to arrest the bar owner for cruel and unusual punishment.
Imagine 60 drunk North Americans trying to understand what is going on as the screens suddenly go black. A Thai woman comes out and in very broken English starts telling, then ordering, then pleading us to leave the bar. Through much gesturing and a crowd full of backpackers fluent in language barriers, we finally came to understand that her husband, the bar owner, had been arrested and we had to leave.
Which meant that we were all kicked out into the street… drunk, disorderly and destined to find the rest of the game. Everyone scattered in different directions, with different plans and the mother/son combination came up with totally different strategies.
The mother decided that we should all stick together, and took over as the caretaker, trying to make sure everyone was going in the same direction…
The son, on the other hand, went completely silent, and decided that the mother was probably going to get run over by one of many of the drunkards who thought it wise to drive home and started trying to herd her in a different direction.
Finding the Game Again
Through no fault of her own, the mother assumed that her son had taken a vow of silence. She figured that beyond that blank stare his whole life might be crashing down. She, totally rationally, knew that he may never recover from this disappointment and she figured it best to maybe not say anything… Eventually, she stepped up and dove into a conversation breaking her son’s monk-like trance where some of the most important questions known to man may have been in the process of deep contemplation… and asked, “So, I guess we won’t find the rest of the game?”
“Of course we will,” I responded, “let’s just see where everyone else is going, if they don’t find it, we’re coming back with my computer to sit outside of a different bar where I have the WIFI code and we’ll stream it there”
“Oh” she acknowledges realizing that perhaps her son wasn’t entering a monastery after all, “You can do that?”
“Legally?” I asked her doing my best to raise one eye-brow… but being as that’s a trick I’ve never been able to master, I’m sure that I came across as having dust in my left eye whilst simultaneously looking skyward with my right-eye and being shocked by the potency of a sour candy… A beautiful facial expression forcing her to awkwardly look away and proving to her that after all these years, it’s still quite possible for me to embarrass her as well.
So we let the group scatter, and started to drive home… then we saw it. In a little Thai street, the shining light beckoning us forward… it was this little 13-inch screen in a tiny bar where one other Canadian couple had stopped (oddly, people in Thailand frequently thought of my mother and I as a couple… oh, the things to tell a future psychiatrist).
This new bar owner hit some knobs, turned some dials and we found the game. As the third period began, Canada had taken the lead… and we all watched in dire anticipation. Our crowd of 4 continued to grow as apparently many Canadians were wandering around looking for the game in dark alleys (it’s a Canadian thing)… 4 grew to 6 grew to 9 grew to however many are in the photo below.
When Parise scored in the last minute to send the game into overtime we had a crowd of around a dozen Canadians ready to strangle the bar owner who decided that he would show us what a real sport, Muay Thai, looked like. After managing to save buddy’s life by asking him kindly to change the channel back, we all sat and watched in a silence so pregnant with anticipation that… ugh… that… (I don’t know where to go with this)… that it must’ve been carrying twins?!… Man, that’s a horrible analogy!
Sorry, head was in the hockey game.
A scramble in the corner, a voice calls out for the puck, it lands on Crosby’s stick and he puts it home… the golden goal!
I had many friends tell me how amazing it was to watch this game in Vancouver, and head out onto the streets afterwards… tell me how it was an incredible experience to be surrounded by so many people, all cheering for the same team, and celebrating together…
But, I don’t think I would ever replace my experience of wandering around a little Thai island with my darling mother, to find the 3rd period and watching Crosby score the golden goal to win the Olympic Gold Medal Game.