Let me say for as creative and fanatical and sometimes downright dorky I am, I have never made a fan sign. Yes, I have done some embarrassing things to represent, but usually it’s from my converting myself into my own sign. Normally I refrain from such behavior. I don’t like to wear a shirt to the place where I bought it. I won’t wear a Killers t-shirt to a Killers concert. The first three hockey games I went to I wore laymen’s clothes. I never thought I’d be a jersey-wearing fool. But there I was in Minnesota, not only wearing a Smaby t-shirt (poor Matt Smaby, put him in, Guy, put him in) but a hat and jeans with glittered 32’s on them. Dork, dork, dork, one declaration of dork for each fan sign on my body. However, there is still one barrier I refuse to break, one line I will not cross: the homemade poster board declaring, announcing, TRUMPETING for all to see just what I love and how non-creative and ill-grammared I am at expressing it. Well, that doesn’t describe me: I am creative and a grammar master as any poster I would construct would most certainly prove. But wouldn’t that in itself make me an even bigger dork? I can’t even text without using ‘ and ; and two spaces after a period and caps when writing proper nouns. So, misspellings and sloppy penmanship aside, what makes the homemade fan signs such an embarrassment? That it is women in their fifties making them and holding them up. Mum-mums. Women who could have given birth to someone who had given birth to a man on the ice. Women who aren’t smart enough to at least take a child to the game with them so we all could think maybe, maybe the kid wrote the sign and grandma’s so proud. No. Four grannies together, holding up their Vinny: Simply The Best sign, in blue and black Sharpie. A bunch of women, not together, but seated side by side, all older than 35, holding up poster board signs: LOVE MOORE GOALS (written in pink, for Dominic Moore), BEST SWEDISH IMPORTS #5, #21, #77 (that would be Ohlund, Ritola, Hedman respectively. Why poor little #24 Harju was left off, I don’t know. He was at Glitz and Sticks. I didn’t get a picture with/of him. I feel guilty. I am Swedish. Makes me want to hold up a sign for my gram: BEST SWEDISH IMPORT, RUTH OLSON). By the way, the woman in charge of that Swedish import sign: wearing #6 jersey, Malone. Definitely not Swedish. And what makes it more disturbing is that I picture these women walking through Michaels selecting the perfect board, buying the Sharpies. What are they thinking? Going to the game tonight, gotta make my MARRY ME OVIE sign. Then I see them at their kitchen tables, tongues propped in the corners of their mouths as they first in pencil, then go over in Blue, Black, Red, Pink, Magenta Sharpie their carefully crafted signs, like putting warpaint on the face of a warrior. What if they mess up? Do they buy several poster boards in anticipation of such a tragedy? After the game do they throw them out? Is it like an outfit, you can’t be seen with it twice?
I went to a sports event (okay, it was wrestling) once with people who made signs. Funny Girl and Superbee, when they were eleven and eight.
In Minnesota, a guy had written a rather lengthy sign, which detailed a road trip he was taking with his son. Their fave player was THE ALASKAN ASSASSIN, NATE THOMPSON. A lot to cram on one board, they held up two. Who would take the time to read all that? Yep, yours truly, you Blair Betts I did. It was very sweet, and I couldn’t make fun of him. Dad and son bonding gets me misty.
Saw the best sign ever on TV last night when catching the Flyers at Buffalo. A Sabres fan was holding up a sign that read I HATE CHEESESTEAK. Now, had he said cheesesteaks it would have been perfect. But again, these are sports fans, they can’t construct a sentence. It’s not a word like cheesecake. You can’t hate cheesesteak. You can hate a cheesesteak, you can hate cheesesteaks. You can even hate a cheesesteak eater, or the home of cheesesteaks, but you can’t grammatically hate cheesesteak. And they say Philadelphians are stupid.