Joining a Cult
Sometimes I tell people that starting to play hockey is like joining a cult.
It’s weird– things you previously would have dismissed as inconsequential suddenly become of utmost importance. Can you cut out of that late meeting to make your icetime? Will you persuade your spouse to authorize new gloves? How did you just spend hours online researching NHL stats?
And things that were important suddenly aren’t… Friday night with your sweetie? Um… can we do that before hockey?? And smells–suddenly having “glove hands” all the time doesn’t bother you. So you stink, so what?
Priorities aren’t the only things that change: friends and habits, too, as one becomes more entrenched in this new and singleminded community. Of course it’s not bad; most of my own new contacts in the Twin Cities are hockey-related, and knowing these people and their non-hockey expertise has been helpful (see earlier posts about Kirk Nelson the Accountant). But as your interests change, so do your associates, not to mention habits.
Eat differently on game day? Take a detour home past the hockey shop, to ogle new gear or get your skates sharpened? Small things, but little changes like this add up into a different life.
And just like family members react to newly-brainwashed cult members (no eye contact, nods as they back slowly away), so you too will be oblivious to your family’s puzzlement at your newfound and consuming passion. It may be interesting to you, but they’ll be gritting their teeth or rolling their eyes when you start another story with, “There I was, heading down the ice…”
I’m the last person to talk, of course. My life is almost entirely hockey, so most people I know are part of the same happy hockey cult I follow. Well, it’s the coolest sport ever, and we shouldn’t be ashamed of being single-mindedly addicted to something so awesome.
Hmm, I’d propose a secret handshake… but to be honest, we could probably identify one another by smell, really.