in which some moments aren’t funny
2013. Leafs VS Bruins. Game Seven.
4-2 Leafs with 1:24 to go
To catch a bus in Plymouth a person can’t just walk up to the edge of the curb where the bus stop is and expect the bus to stop. You have to stick your hand out like a hitch-hiker to show the driver that you’re serious about hitching a ride. If you don’t do this the bus will zoom by leaving you in its airstream. When a bus is coming toward your stop there’s always a fumbling of arms from pockets and a run by at least one person to get to that curb and flag that lumbering bus down before it’s too late. And somehow this whole process gives the buses a look of arrogance, a sense of superiority, over the waiting passengers. This never comes from the bus drivers. They couldn’t be friendly once you get on. Almost as if the drivers to felt the weight of the buses judgment.
In Toronto, the opposite is often the case when you wait for a TTC bus. A person could step up to the bus stop and the bus would drive on by, not because of some complicated hand signal but because the bus driver for some abstract reason, maybe contempt, decides not to. Once when this happened to me, seconds later a cab skidded up to the corner and the cabbie said, “Get in.”
“I can’t afford a cab,” I said.
“I’m not charging. I just saw what happened. We’re getting you on that bus.”
That cabbie drove North up Dufferin, overtook the bus, and let me off at the next stop. As I was getting out of the cab he said, “I couldn’t keep watching that happen without doing something about it.”
In Plymouth, the bus schedules are an obsession. Will the bus come, won’t the bus come, when’s the last time the bus came, and always a favourite, did you hear that the bus didn’t come at all from nine to ten am. As I was talking about the bus schedule with a few people, another person, some guy who was behind us, asked me, “Where you from?”
“Toronto. Toronto, Canada,” I said.
Next thing he said was, “You see the game last night?”
I knew which game he meant right away. The Leafs at the Flyers. The second game of the 2013-2014 season. Even eight hours away by plane, with all the other sports possible, my sports talk was still reduced to the Leafs.
Twenty minutes later, I was sitting in a coffee shop when someone walked in wearing a Maple Leaf t-shirt.
Omens. Hopes. And ignore that the GM, David Nonis, went to the hospital during the Home Opener. Chalk that incident up to overexcitement because Nonis has got the this is the year fever.
I’ve given up watching the Leafs regular season. I watch the game highlights, read the post-game, follow the happenings, grimace when I hear Captain Dion Phaneuf is rumoured to hog the soundsystem in the Leafs dressing room, and hope that the Minnesota North Stars never again rise up and win the final playoff spot by three points, but I can’t muster the energy to follow the regular season in real time. I’ve tried a few times to watch one or two games but I can’t turn off the full-body twitch, the raised heart rate, the sick feeling, or, what I’d like to call the Nonis Shuffle from this day forward.
When I tuned in for the playoffs in 2013 I thought I’d feel differently, that maybe, after a full year away from the Leafs, with the residual lockout anger, maybe I’d be able to watch the games feeling a little healthier about the whole thing. I wasn’t. I didn’t. I was sucked in. I was told to keep it down.
If you’ve never watched a Leaf game, if you have no idea what the Leafs mean, watch those seven games. Watch and root for them and feel what every Leaf fan has felt for seasons. I think we should bury those seven games under one of the many condos going up. Let future Torontonians dig the games up, download them into their eyes and let them see how the Toronto Maple Leafs of yesteryear played.
Because fifty years later, I mean come on.
Surely by then.