The place is called Extreme Pizza. I know the name's lame, but they have slices so big that just one is a meal for me, and it's good. They had just closed, but the dining area was still open, with one family in it.
The father at that table saw me, turned around, and asked, "I coached hockey for you, didn't I?"
And sure enough, he did. The guy in question coached the Woodbridge High hockey team in tenth grade. Which caused an instant, unpleasant recall for me.
I played hockey from about seven years old until fifteen or so. But I was never serious about it--I made every game, got to every practice, did what the coach asked, but no more. I wasn't a particularly good player, which was fine with me--I was in it to have fun, to skate around for an hour a week working with my team to score more goals than we failed to stop. (Nor was I a liability--I was fairly quick for my size, and in later years I learned to put my weight to good use. I was a pretty average player overall.) And most of my coaches were good guys (partially because Dad coached half the time), who would give everybody equal time unless a game came down to the wire.
Except for this guy.
In ninth grade, I was on the frosh-soph team at Woodbridge. Even there, I wasn't a great player, but I was good enough. The coach was cool--he understood that JV and varsity were the serious teams, and this one was for the kids who just wanted to play.
That coach ended up moving cross-country at the end of the season, so they promoted his assistant to head coach. They also didn't get enough new players to keep three teams, so they moved the frosh-soph players into JV.
And there, with an asshole coach on a team that played every game to win no matter the score, I spent a miserable season. I averaged about one (two-minute) shift per game that season; many games I never touched the rink while the clock was running. I still went to all the practices and suited up for every game, but practices were never fun, and it was a miserable experience to suit up in heavy, hot gear, skate out, warm up--and sit on the bench for an hour, watching the other people play. And we didn't even do well! I could understand it if we actually got results, but we didn't--because the team was loaded down with kids that belonged in frosh-soph.
I don't think I've played hockey since.
My immediate reaction was a sort of wariness. I didn't want to talk to him, didn't even want to think about him. I had spent three years forgetting he walked the planet, and didn't want the reminder. He made some small talk, asked what I was doing; I mumbled something about having botched my first rount of college apps, so I was trying again this year.
He asked if I'd graduated high school, a question I found rather insulting.
I finally extracted myself from the situation and started driving back towards home. I made two mistakes--once I accelerated when I was getting close to a light that had just turned yellow, and had to break quickly; a little later I misinterpreted a flicker of motion as a light turning green and hit the gas. (I caught that mistake before I got through the crosswalk, so I didn't run the light or anything--but I nearly did.)
I stopped at the market and spent twenty minutes wandering around, grabbing things to eat/drink and thinking about things I didn't want to think about. Paid, put the stuff in the car, went home. Ate dinner, helped mom a bit with her new book's back cover copy (they're letting her edit it this time), then came upstairs to deal with e-mail and wish a few people weren't in bed.
And now that I'm ready to go to bed, I just realized that Rachel's been online the whole time, and I could've talked to her. ブレントンのばか。
Anyway...goodnight. (Hopefully better than mine.)