So I’ve decided to see Vinny (it’s like that; Vinny, no more Vincent once you see him live) do his stuff and I proceed to buy tickets. Front row, center ice, because I won’t be on this side of the stage or the rink, sorry. Especially not for my first experience. And I say first, because I have a feeling I will need to watch Vinny play hockey for many years to come, if not at least until this book is written. It’s late January last year when I get the tickets and with plane fare and hotel and center ice: pricey. My birthday is in two weeks. I call Mom and Bobeet and ask if I can have Vinny as my birthday present. Just the tickets. They say yes. When I stop jumping around the room, I buy the tix and I can’t wait until April.
Arty Party gives me the task of finding her someone on the team to love, always thinking about what’s in it for her (just kidding). Hey, it’s more fun if you have a favorite. Just ask all those people walking around in jerseys with somebody else’s name on it. Which at this point I still refuse to do. Just like I won’t wear a band’s concert t-shirt to their performance. I know, I’m weird like that. Whatever. Probably it stems from some traumatic childhood experience of being afraid and ashamed to declare what I like for fear of being ripped to shreds. But I’m getting over all that, trying to be like, “I like it, F-U if you don’t, no one asked you to wear it, you don’t want to be seen with me, hightail it out of here, just leave your credit card.”
So I’m on the Lightning website trying to find someone for AP to love. It reminds me of band times, sweet nostalgia, how many times we suffered with a smile in black leather so the other one could be by her bass player. I’d heard the name Hedman bandied about so I think she should love him. I click to see what he looks like. Hmmm. Sort of like a young Brendan Fraser. Mine. Next. Let’s just click at random. Not finding anyone. Stammer and St. Louis, too obvious, who doesn’t love them. Keep clicking. Steve Downie. Hmmm. Cute enough. Okay, AP will love him. I show her his picture. Yes, she could love him, we both agree.
April comes and we fly to Tampa. Driving to the hotel from the airport there’s a huge billboard on the highway with Vinny’s face on it, and the sky opens up and the angels are singing. “We’re here!” I announce to AP, and we both say hi to Vinny. Game day is the last home game of the season and it’s fan appreciation night. Free t-shirts and half price merch. Sweet! I buy a bejeweled Lightning shirt and a Vinny necklace so I can wear it when I write. I hide it under my clothes when I go writing at Starbucks, don’t judge, I’m trying to work on the shame thing. We get Mountain Dews and take our seats and a Lightning salesman comes and talks to us about all the great things we get with our VIP tickets, not least of all access to some club where the hockey players sometimes pass through. Say what what?
Opening skate begins and much to my chagrin, I find that we are on the Ottowa Senators side, so Vinny is skating around without his helmet, taking practice shots on the other side of the rink while I stare at Carrie Underwood’s husband. Live and learn, next time I’ll be sure to be on the Lightning side. The game gets under way and watching Vinny skate and play hockey and just plain old do what he was put on this earth to do is something I will never forget. I’d waited six years for this. All worth it. AP and I notice another hockey player, Mike Lundin. Gorgeous. Dark hair, long lashes, just a beautiful man, what is he doing in a place where hard flying objects can knock out his teeth, blacken his eyes, and break his nose? So AP decides to love Lundin. She still loves Downie, but he is unfortunately the fighting badass of the team, therefore already missing teeth and perpetually sporting a black eye or some other kind of injury. And he’s hated by opposing team members. Can I pick ’em, or what? Thank goodness I gave him to her.
Since that first time, I went back to Tampa in October and caught another game, this time on the Lightning side, and we went into the club for taquitos and free soda. Didn’t linger for hockey members, because it won’t go down like that for me. I won’t meet Vinny like that. I chose not to meet Brett like that, some sniveling please notice me fan. When I met Brett I was the woman who cut his check. My standards for meeting my second muse have to be along the same status lines. (I also broke down and decided wearing jerseys to the game is what you gotta do to represent. When in Rome, so AP got me a Vinny toga for Christmas, I got her a Lundin and in less than two weeks it’ll be all good, matching hats.)
Caught the Lightning again in Philly a few days later when they played the Flyers. Three games, and they won every one of them. Not so much in LA when they played the Kings in November. 1-0, one of the most violent games I’ve ever seen; the Kings are Compton vicious. Hey, I’ve got an idea; let’s not try to get any goals. Let’s just beat the Lightning senseless until they’re all lying on the ice pooling blood and place the puck in the net. Yeah, that bad.
Some interesting asides before I wrap up this muse session now that you’ve been brought up to date. In Bury My Lovely Agatha’s dead mother’s name is Victoria, something I wrote back in 1990. When Vinny and his girlfriend had their baby daughter this year they named her, yep, Victoria. Agatha’s brother is Xander, short for Alexander, it’s how he is referred to so as not to be confused with his father, Alexander Sr. Wrote that in 1990. Ovechkin’s first name? Alexander, kiddies. My favorite saint growing up was Agnes, who was burned naked at the stake at fifteen after being raped and not naming her attacker, they all said she asked for it (barrel of monkeys, those catholics, huh?). The miracle God gave her was to grow her hair long enough to cover her entire body as she burned to cover her nakedness. While visiting family in Cape May this summer I actually saw a St. Agnes figurine. I showed my mom and Funny Girl, who were there with me. I told them the story of St. Agnes and how I would love to have the figure. “Christmas,” I said to them, hint hint. My mom bought it for me that night (which I didn’t know) and sent it in the mail last month. Only when I opened it, she mistakenly bought me another saint instead of Agnes. What saint? Agatha. Muses everywhere. Can’t wait to finish this book . . . .