Tough Talk

by barbaragarn

I​n running JMS, I have had some difficult conversations. While most of those have been in the theme of “I know you started playing hockey last month, and you’re doing great, but you’re just not ready for Level 5 yet…” some of the toughest have had nothing to do with parity.

Awkward talks can usually be avoided by prevarication or passing the buck, but sometimes even Nice Minnesotans have to–like lemmings–push forward an unwilling leader to address the issue. If it’s cringe-worthy enough then somebody has to do something.

The two at the top of my list of “Awkward and Must Be Dealt With” are both pretty bad.

1. Smelly Guy
When Smelly Guy doesn’t air out his gear (and guys, I say “his” cause it’s usually your sex), it can get bad. I’m not talking about the regular-but-bearable Hockey Nasty Smell, I’m talking about Really Bad Hockey Smell. You know what I mean… the guy opens his bag and it smells like some critter got drunk and died in there, and then someone made cheese out of it. Yeah, you know what I mean… the inside of your nose is crinkling up as you read this. Ugggggh.
We all know how truly horrible it can be to share a locker room with this guy and even the bench with him–you can tell at a distance that there’s a Smelly Guy on the bench by seeing he has five feet of room on either side. And you can sometimes even smell this dude on the ice. I suppose it can come in handy if he’s trying to sneak up on you, but there’s really nothing that makes any of it better.
So somebody has to say something. In the history of JMS, I’ve only had to do this once. I tried to be as nice as I could, but there’s no dancing around the issue… and it even seemed mean to do that. I just got to the point and told the guy that he really needed to air out his gear. That people liked him a lot and were looking forward to getting to know him once they could, er, get a little closer.

2. Naked Guy
I don’t know if one sex or the other is more likely to do this, but in my case (and on one of my old teams), it was a guy. Holy smokes. When there’s a Naked Guy in your locker room, everyone gets very, very interested in their skate laces. Naked Guys come in two types: Oblivious and Strutting. The Oblivious Naked Guy we can excuse, but the Strutting Naked Guy seems happy as he strips and watches the whole team suddenly examining their socks. And he gets chatty when he’s prancing around, too… suddenly needs to hold forth on all manner of wide-ranging topics before the it occurs to him to please oh please put on some clothes.
Like I said, I’ve only been around one Naked Guy, and I wasn’t the one who had to tell him to quit it. I hope I never, ever, ever have to deal with this one.

Lots of us are new hockey players and new to the hockey environment. Like we all needed something to be more self-conscious about, right? I’m not writing this blog about anyone in recent history (both incidents are at least four years old), so don’t worry that this is a secret message to you. Chances are, if you’re wondering then you’re perspicacious enough to never be a Smelly Guy or a Naked Guy.

Whether in a large group like JMS or in a smaller group like a team, there are bound to be some “ermm…” moments. Which ones have you had? Anything besides Smelly and Naked?