I write this, like most things, in my home office which is one of four bedrooms in the house. It’s also the smallest one because, well – don’t mind me – I’m just writing here. How much space do I really need?
I’ve tried to make it an inspiring writer’s room by having photos and paintings on the wall, and on my desk, things that remind me of a trip or a place, or that I just think are sort of cool. They include a Donald Duck figurine that I’ve had since I was four or five, a Peanuts calendar holder I bought in Tokyo, a tiny bust of H.C. Andersen – my favourite fairytale author – I bought in Copenhagen, and a miniature DeLorean Son convinced me buy at the Universal Studios two years ago.
The latest addition to my desktop collection is a flower I bought last week.
About a year ago, I wanted to make a change so I took down a framed photo of “The Goal”, which I bought in Boston ten years ago, and in its place, there’s now my father’s painting of a Finnish winter landscape.
On the bookshelf where I used to have pucks and old ticket stubs and other hockey memorabilia, I now have books.
Next to my desk, I have two new pictures: One a Back to the Future themed piece of art, the other something I painted years ago myself. In front of me, I have another Back to the Future poster, and next to it, a poster of Donald Duck as Einstein.
Down on the floor, Bobby Orr is still in mid-air, waiting to find a new place, probably in the basement. I’ve toned down hockey so much that it’s the only hockey photo in the room.
Well, not quite. There is one more. It’s a snap shot of me hoisting the Stanley Cup in a Helsinki hotel room about twenty years ago.
The photo was taken the day after the NHL International Challenge, a new tournament to promote the NHL in Europe. I had been helping the NHL for a few months, and had just spent a fun two weeks with my new friends. I had played early morning hockey with NHL executives, I had run errands for them, and I had partied with them.
I had made a lot of new friends, two of them being the two gentlemen, Phil and Craig, who each year, carry the Stanley Cup onto the ice for the NHL commissioner to present it to the new champions. They’re the Guardians of the Cup.
As I was saying goodbye to everybody, Phil and Craig asked me if I wanted to see the Cup up close, since it was in its blue case in their room. I said I’d love it, and so me and my friend went up to their room.
“Can I pick it up,” I asked Phil and Craig (who, in my head, are always “Phil and Craig”.)
“Sure, if you want to,” said Phil and Craig.
“You do know that, according to the legend, if you touch it, you’ll never win it,” they told me.
I knew that but I still wanted to pick it up. I mean, I was an un-drafted undersized Division III player from Finland, my chances of making it to the NHL, let alone winning the Stanley Cup, were worse than Lloyd Christmas’s chances to hook up with Mary in “Dumb and Dumber.”
I picked up the Cup, carefully, and let my hand run up and down the silver trophy, feeling the engraved names on its sides.
“Can I hoist it?” I asked Phil and Craig.
They looked at each other and then at me.
Phil and Craig sighed.
“Well, that is generally something only the champions get to do,” they started, “but if it’s something you think is appropriate for you to do, sure. Why not?”
I was so excited – and had probably already made up my mind – that I didn’t get their not-so-subtle hint. I grabbed a hold of the trophy and lifted it above my head.
That’s when my friend took the photo.
The standard-size glossy photo is stuck to the side of my bookshelf with poster putty, so it’s hanging there a little crooked, but it captures the moment so well.
I’m wearing a white baseball cap with the NHL logo on it, and a new T-shirt with the tournament and the NHL logos on it. I had just got them from the great new friend of mine, who had hired me in the first place.
I look so happy in the photo. And why not? I’ve been working with the NHL, I know people in the NHL and – gasp – there’s even been talk of an NHL job for me in New York!
I may not be on the top floor of the fancy hotel but I am on top of the world, bittersweet as it is that the event is over. But it’s not over yet. I’m with my friends, one old friend and my new friends, and – come on – I am hoisting the Stanley Cup over my head. I’m young, I’m going places. The grin that goes from ear to ear in that photo is not a fake one.
However, today, as I was standing in front of the bookshelf, procrastinating as usual, I realized there is something I’d like to tell that young and handsome bastard in the photo.
And it’s this: You’re doing it wrong!
I’ve never noticed or thought about it before but while my right hand is grabbing the base of the Cup, my left is on the modern-day trophy’s “neck”, the foot of the original bowl, not the rim.
I immediately googled photos of Stanley Cup champions hoisting the Cup – some more procrastination – but couldn’t find a photo of anyone doing it my way.
Which leaves me with two questions: Is it time to take the photo to the basement with Bobby, and more importantly, since I did it wrong, does it mean the curse is broken and that I can still win the Stanley Cup?
I’d better ask Phil and Craig.