Imagine a teenage boy. Now imagine he’s a hockey player, then imagine he’s a pretty good one, and then, imagine him on the ice. Imagine it’s the 1980s, and imagine he’s playing a game in a fairly big rink. Imagine it’s the main rink of the town.
Despite it being the city’s biggest rink, and the only indoor arena, imagine only a handful of people watching the game. Imagine there are a few teenage girls, but mostly men of different ages. Imagine some of them in the stands, and some of the standing behind the plexiglass at ice level.
“Every time I jump like that, I feel like time slows down a little bit.”
– Son, today, after a hop over a puddle
On the back wall of my elementary school cafeteria, there was a big clock. White background, black hands, no numbers, just the short lines that indicate the five-minute (or second) intervals the hands have to make to travel around the face.
There was also something else I’ve never been able to forget in my school, and that was the rule that you had to finish your plate, because food was never to be wasted. That’s why I sometimes sat alone at a long table and stared at the clock, while trying to chew whatever food was given to me that day.
One time, when I was there alone, trying to make the food go down, I glanced at the clock, and waited for the seconds hand to move, as it did, second by second, not in one smooth motion – but it didn’t.
Maybe everything would be different had I acted on my impulse. Maybe I wouldn’t be sitting in this little office room in our yellow house, for example.
Maybe I’d have another job, maybe I would wear a suit every day, and not just on days when I want to pretend to be a guy who wears suits to work, like today. Maybe I wouldn’t have seen the Life of Brian, and maybe I still couldn’t tell the Spice Girls apart.
A few days ago, I put on my father’s IT support person’s hat on and tried to help him hack into his own Apple account so he could buy an app. It was fairly easy, or should have been, as it was the same IT support person who had once created the account and the password to go with it. However, once again, I had been too clever for my own good, or the good of my father, because I simply couldn’t remember the password and had to take the bonus round: the secret password questions.
First question: What was the name of your first pet?
Since the questions were designed to retrieve my father’s password, not mine, I hesitated at first, but then asked him, “Maybe Roope?”
“Nooooo,” he said, “who’s Roope?”
Who’s Roope? Only the first pet I remember him having.
First of of all, I told the world, I’d work on my physique
“This year, I’ll go to the gym at least four times a week”
But 300 days later I have to concede
That I’m not made for life at the gym, simply because I am weak
If a song was written in 1904, is it a traditional folk song? Maybe not, but I didn’t care because I was in fourth grade, and I didn’t know the song was written in 1904, or that a version of it had been in an early 1960s Finnish movie. Our teacher had probably picked that one to make our music class a little more contemporary.
It didn’t, but I didn’t care. I just loved singing the song.
I sat in the front row, as I often did, being a small kid. The big kids could see from behind a smaller one, but us shorties wouldn’t have seen anything sitting behind a big, we were told, so I sat in the front row even in music class, even though it didn’t really matter there.
“Daddy, I can’t sleep … tell me a story … pleeeeeeease.”
“Try to think of something nice. Like, like, fairies, and butterflies.”
“You always say that butterflies are just overrated insects, that’s not nice, is it?”
“Well, no, I know. How about you think about, say, the Smurfs? They’re nice. And funny, remember how that one smurf always carries around those gift boxes that explode?”
“Yes. He’s Jokey Smurf.”
“Yes! What a funny guy!”
I open my eyes and get out of my bed. I look out the window, the sun is shining, and a blue bus is just pulling out of the stop across the street. When it’s gone, three seconds later, I see the poster on the bus stop. It’s an advertisement for “Slap Shot”. It puzzles me that a hockey movie is coming out in the summer, but not as much as it puzzles me that Mom and Dad won’t let me see it.
I’m the kinda guy who’s fairly easily impressed by others. I may not always say it, or show it to the person in question, but in my heart I know it.
I look up to those people and I try to emulate them. Maybe I’ll start to dress like them, or I try to walk like them, or – just something. As a kid I taught myself how to fake Wayne Gretzky’s autograph, and I put a photo of Wayne over my own photo in my bus pass. When somebody told me I walked like Esa Peltonen, a Team Finland star, I made sure to keep walking that way.
When I was ten, or eleven, and read Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, I wanted to be Mark Twain. He’s still my literary hero and one day I will have a mustache like that, too.
I was only ten years old when I realized the first of my superpowers. I was sitting in the backseat of our car, in a parking lot somewhere, waiting for my father to come back from the store or the hockey rink. For some reason, I wasn’t reading comics, or a book, but instead just looked out the window – like kids used to do back in the day.
As I was staring out the window, possibly trying to see if Dad was on his way back, I realized that I was actually looking right through a lamp post.