I love hockey.
I enjoy a lot of sports: tennis, obviously, football, soccer, but I especially love hockey. There aren't a lot of time stoppages and with no out-of-bounds, the play is pretty much constant. That means your emotions run rampant as the puck continues to move up and down the ice. The game is so intense.
And as if that weren't enough, the fans—and Penguins fans, most notably—are crazily devoted. Even if someone in the stands didn't understand what was going on, I doubt that they wouldn't get caught up in the crowd's cathartic outpouring of cheers.
Last season, I would watch the games at home or a local sports bar with fellow fanatics, and then watch the postgame interviews in the locker room. This year, I went to a lot of the games and got to watch them firsthand. And I didn't need to watch interviews, because I got to see a lot of the guys off the ice and outside of the rink. I had become entangled with the world of hockey that I had only known on the screen.
I thought about how lucky I am. Here I was, enjoying a game of my favorite spectator sport being played by my favorite team, surrounded by over seventeen thousand of my closest friends, plus Lynne of course. And the entire night was made possible by my wonderful boyfriend. In a million years, I never could have imagined this for myself.
The Pens won in a shoot out against the Devils, and the crowd erupted into a frenzy as Tanger deked and shot top shelf, stick side, and his teammates came out on the ice to celebrate with him. Kris was by far the sexiest guy on the team, and for a defenseman, he was great on the shootout. I knew we'd be going out tonight, for sure.
The fans started to file out of the arena and into the parking lot, and The Girlfriends and I (I still didn't include myself in their group) found our way back to the lounge to wait for the guys. Véro, Kelsey and I chilled out in one corner, discussing our favorite plays of the game and talking about the next weekend.
"It's my turn to host the viewing of the next away game," Kelsey said. "That's next Friday. I'm inviting all the girls. Are you coming, Noelle?"
"Sure, Kels, I'd love to come."
"The next night is a home game, and also the team's Halloween party," Véro added. "But I'm sure Sid's told you all about that."
"No, he hasn't," I told him.
"Well, he's had other things on his mind," Kels said, "like how to win you back."
I laughed. "I'm sure he'll mention it when things calm down again, since now he has a couple days off."
"I'm glad that you guys worked through everything last night," Véro commented absentmindedly. "Now people won't be asking questions anymore."
My eyebrows rose. "Who was asking questions?"
"Some of the girls, but it wasn't a big deal," Kelsey dismissed.
"No, now I'm curious. Please tell me. What were they asking?"
"You know, it was just Lynne running her mouth, and then when she started insinuating that you guys were over, some of the other girls were asking us if it were true." Véro.
"Yeah, everyone noticed that you didn't come back to your seat for the rest of the game, and then Max said you left early." Kelsey.
"What did you guys say to them?"
They both shrugged. "Just that you had had a fight, but it wasn't anything major."
I snorted, both at how quickly they wanted to overlook my quarterlife crisis and also at how Lynne would stop at nothing to interfere and become a third wheel in my relationship. "What a bitch. Why can't she mind her own goddamned business instead of being in mine?"
"Because to her, your business is her business, as long as it pertains to Sid," Kelsey stated.
I shook my head and looked for her in the crowded lounge. When I spotted her, I noticed she had been looking at me; once she saw me looking at her, she looked away. "I can't believe her."
The guys started to walk out of the dressing room and pair off with their girls. Sidney and Kris were the last two to join us. He approached and put his arm around my waist. I grabbed his tie and pulled him down to my level, planting a wet kiss on his lips, throwing my anti-PDA attitude out the window. Maybe if Lynne saw for herself that Sid was off the market, she'd back off.
Sid didn't care why I kissed him, just that I did. He grinned widely and kept his grip around my waist, pulling me against him. We had to make up for lost time.
"So, Diesel, right boys?" he asked. Some of the guys rolled their eyes and mumbled that we should go somewhere else for once, but their dissention didn't change any minds. We all headed for the parking lot, Sid and I leaving with his arm around my shoulders and my arm around his waist. Walking that way wasn't easy, but we laughed as we bumped into each other and zig-zagged our way to his Range Rover.
In the car, Sidney asked, "What's up? You're kind of quiet."
I shrugged. "I don't know why I let her get to me like I do, but Lynne just lights a fire under me."
"Her again? Nelly, I don't know why you two don't get along. She seems like a nice enough girl. Gogo really likes her."
"She hates me, Sidney."
"No she doesn't. How could anyone hate you?"
"She truly does, and seemingly for no other reason than I'm dating you."
"But she has a boyfriend."
"Yeah, well, that doesn't mean much of anything."
"Really? Does that mean I have to worry about you keeping an eye out for other guys?"
"No! Sid, why would you even think that? I can hardly handle you, let alone some other guy," I joked.
He laughed. "Well, then who's to say Lynne's the way you're making her out to be?"
I rolled my eyes. "Don't be naïve. She wants in your pants, Crosby. She's totally using Alex to get to you."
He reached over and took my hand, holding it as he drove. "This is pointless. I already have a girl, and Lynne is the girlfriend of one of my teammates. Nothing is going to come of this. Can we just drop it? I can't handle another argument. Let's just have fun tonight, eh?"
I squeezed his hand back, but I was still a bit peeved. Didn't he see what she was up to? And even if he couldn't—which I shouldn't put past him, because he is rather naïve—he should wise up and listen to me.
We got to the club and were quickly ushered to the V.I.P. lounge. A girl could easily get used to this kind of treatment. Max was at the bar. I walked over to say hello, and he ordered four red-headed sluts. "These are your favorite, no?" he asked.
"Yes, I can't believe you remembered," I replied. "But why did you get four of them?"
"Because we've got two things to toast," he said, as if the answer were obvious. He handed me a shot and took one for himself. "This one is for you and the Kid. May you keep the conflicts to a minimum, because I hate when he's grumpy."
"Hear, hear!" We clinked glasses and downed each of our first shots. Then he handed me the second one. "What's this one for?"
"Ah, this one is for me. I won't be able to party as much soon. The docs cleared me. I'm playing in our next game, against Montréal!"
"Max! That's fantastic!" I cried, drinking my shot and then hugging him in congratulations. "Do you know which line you'll be placed on?"
He shook his head. "Coach will figure that out during our practices, now that I can play full contact. I'm so excited to be back out there. I figured you'd want to know."
"I'm so excited for you. The games are just boring without you, Superstar," I told him, giving him a wink. Inside, I was a little worried that he would be playing so soon. He wasn't expected to play until November. However, if the doctors and coaches thought it was okay, then it was. They know more than I do on the subject of shoulder surgery and rehab.
Max was a bundle of energy, bouncing between clusters of people and having a good time. After he left me by the bar, I meandered over to the railing overlooking the first floor, people-watching and swaying to the music. I wasn't a lightweight, but I could already feel the effects of the shots. Sid asked if I wanted something from the bar, and I nodded. Another drink wouldn't hurt. As he was stuck at the bar getting his drink order, Alex Goligoski walked over to me.
"Hi, Noelle," he said. I didn't know him quite as well as I knew some of the other players, but I knew he was a good guy.
"Hey Alex. Good game tonight."
"Thanks." He fidgeted a bit before speaking again. "Listen, I'm really glad you and Sid worked things out."
I laughed. "Does everyone know about the intricacies our relationship?"
He laughed with me. "Don't get the wrong idea about Sid. He never said a word about it, we all could just tell something was up. You both wear your hearts on your proverbial sleeves."
"Yeah, well, it would be nice if some people weren't as perceptive to that as others," I said, thinking of Lynne and finding her in the lounge. I shouldn't have been surprised to see her at the bar next to Sid, talking to him. He had our drinks in his hands, but he was trying to be polite and listen to her. She trapped him at the bar, and he was too nice to blow her off.
Alex followed my line of sight. "I know she doesn't love me, even though she says it. All the guys are telling me she's up to no good, but I don't feel right breaking up with her unless she gives me a reason to."
I faced him, forgetting about Lynne and her close proximity to my boyfriend. "Do you love her?" He shook his head. "Then isn't that enough of a reason?"
"No. But I think she's giving me one right now."
I turned back to the scene before us, as she inched closer to Sid. The bar was crowded, and he only had so much room to back up before he couldn't move anymore. Lynne still zeroed in on him.
"Tell her 'no,'" I whispered to myself. Anger was building up inside of me. I wanted to march over there and slap her silly. I wasn't jealous; jealousy would imply that I wanted something of hers, or I was worried about her taking something of mine. I just knew that she was up to no good. Sid was mine, and I knew he didn't care about Lynne. Even if he liked her, he'd never do that to his teammate. Or me, I hoped.
As pissed as I was, I was rooted to my place on the floor. I expected something like this from Lynne. I knew she liked him and was devious enough to try something to get him. But I had tried to warn Sidney about her, and I wanted him to realize how silly she was. To push her away. To tell her that there was no fucking way in hell he'd ever be with her. He wouldn't believe me when I told him she wanted him, so maybe now that she was throwing herself at him, he'd see it for himself.
"Do something, Sid," I again whispered. Alex stood next to me, shaking his head, getting angry. He, too, was unable to move and stop them. We were helpless and frozen, watching the interaction between Sid and Lynne.
Even though I was psychically willing him to act, Sidney stood there, obviously distressed but unmoving. She leaned in closer to him, her face inches from his, then millimeters, until there was no more space between his lips and hers.
Everyone in the V.I.P. lounge saw. There must have been neon arrows pointing to the two of them. All the players and their girlfriends watched as Lynne put the moves on Sidney and kissed him and further watched as Sidney did nothing to stop it. They looked at them, then looked at Alex and I observing the kissing scene, before looking back at the bar. Sidney jerked back his head, breaking the lip-lock and looking embarrassed.
Alex's face reddened, and he strode to the bar, said a few choice words in her direction, and then left the lounge and club. Lynne appeared shocked—did she think no one would notice?—and chased after him. Poor Alex. He told me he didn't love her, but he was still obviously upset with her. And who could blame him? Seeing his girlfriend kiss his teammate couldn't have been an easy thing to see.
I should know; seeing his girlfriend kiss my boyfriend wasn't an easy thing to see.
Sidney shook his head and joined me against the railing. He handed me my drink but didn't say anything right away. I couldn't say anything to him because I was too angry. I drank the entire glass in just a few gulps, trying to numb the feelings churning inside of me.
"Wow, I guess you were right."
"'I guess you were right'? That's all you're going to say?"
He looked surprised at the venom in my voice. "What are you so upset about? She kissed me."
"And you just let it happen. I'm not upset, Sid. I'm furious. I told you she was an evil, conniving little whore, and you dismissed me like my feelings were unfounded. I was right, Sid; I was dead fucking right."
Ever since Lynne followed Alex out of the room, all eyes had been on us. He ran his hand through his hair. "Can we not do this here, now? Let's go home and talk."
"Oh, you're right," I spat. "I wouldn't want to cause a scene and sully your spectacular reputation. No, you did that all on your own by kissing that skank."
I couldn't be around him anymore. Just being near him left me seething. I started to walk away from him, but he grabbed my arm and pulled me back. "Nelly, wait...."
I ripped my arm from his grasp. "Don't touch me. And don't call me that. You can't sweet talk me now."
People stepped in around us. Marc-André, Véro, Jordan, and Max stood between Sid and me.
"Let's keep our tempers here," Véro rationalized. "Let's not do anything stupid."
"Too late," I spat, and then I headed for the stairs, needing to get outside into the fresh air. I heard someone follow me, but I didn't care who it was. I couldn't breathe in that stuffy club, and soon my eyes were burning from tears of frustration. How could he just let her do that? In my mind, that was just as bad as if he had kissed her himself. He didn't even try to get her to stop.
Once outside, I sat on the curb. Usually, I was such a reasonable person. I thought things through and never acted irrationally. Until I met Sid. He pushed my buttons and made me feel emotions I never thought existed. Not to mention I couldn't think straight around him. I just abandoned him in Diesel, stuck in the Southside with no way to my car and no other way home. What was this power Sid held over me to act so stupidly?
I heard voices behind me, one male and one female. "Drive around for a bit and give her time to cool off. Then take her back his house." The female voice.
"No, I don't think they're going to be able to talk about this tonight. Tell him I have her, and just to take it easy tonight. Tomorrow's another day." The male voice.
Then I felt hands on my shoulders. "Come on, Noelle."
My fury began to partially transform into apathy. "I wanna go home. Take me to get my car, Max."
"No, you're not in a condition to drive. You're coming with me."
"Please, Max, I just want to go home and crawl into my bed."
"You can stay with me, for tonight," he coaxed as he pulled me into a standing position. He led me to his beemer, and I got in the front seat. It only took us a few minutes to get to his house. We went inside, and that's when I lost my composure. Max had taken me to his spare bedroom, and all the memories from Sid's birthday came rushing back.
"I can't sleep here."
"Okay, here, take my room."
"I don't want to kick you out of your own bed. You're already doing too much."
"Don't worry, Noelle. We'll get everything sorted out in the morning, and then you can never set foot in my house again." I tried to smile to Max, to show him my appreciation, but the corners of my lips wouldn't curl and I finally let the tears spill on my cheeks. "Oh no, Noelle, please don't cry." He pulled me into his arms and we sat on the edge of his bed. "I'm no good at this sort of thing, and this is two days in a row you're making me comfort you."
I sighed, but I didn't allow him to let go of me. "I'm sorry. I don't know what's wrong with me."
"Do you want to talk about it?"
"No. I don't have anything to say about tonight, except he should have listened to me. He can have that whore."
"It's late, Noelle, and you're upset. Don't say or do anything you may regret in the morning. Let's just get some sleep and deal with it tomorrow." We laid down on his bed, and he rubbed my back and I closed my eyes.
"I'm sorry, Max."
"What are you apologizing to me for?"
"You were having such a good time tonight. Celebrating. I bet you were planning on bringing a girl home, and you're stuck with me instead."
He laughed, and I felt the bed shake. "Of all the girls I could have brought home, it figures I pick the one that doesn't want me. Honestly, Noelle, I just wanted to make sure you were okay. It looked like he ripped your heart out."
"He did. But I don't want to talk about it," I said, feeling my chest clench again.
He continued to rub my back. "You'll talk about it when you're ready."
This was so messed up. I should have been in bed with Sidney. Things were just starting to get good again, and in the span of twenty-four hours, they were all screwed up again. Max kept saying that the situation would be sorted out come morning. But as I drifted off, I couldn't help but think that if this was how life with Sidney would be, argument after argument, broken heart after broken heart, I didn't want to wake up.
My Favorite Five (2015)
1 year ago