Hey there! We’ve made it through another week, and you know what? This weekend is one of my favorite times here in Austin: it’s the Austin Film Festival and Writer’s Conference! I am volunteering this weekend, and it’s just a great time to see some of the best writers and creators come together and make cool things happen. I’m in need of inspiration, so this is coming at the right (write) time!
It’s also supposed to be a little chilly – FINALLY – this weekend (like, in the low 50s), even though it will warm back up next week. I’ll take what I can get; I am so tired of having my air conditioning running.
But, I’ve got a really fantastic, important book to discuss this week: “What Made Maddy Run: The Secret Struggles and Tragic Death of an All-American Teen” by Kate Fagan. Here is the official description from Amazon:
From noted ESPN commentator and journalist Kate Fagan, the heartbreaking and vital story of college athlete Madison Holleran, whose death by suicide rocked the University of Pennsylvania campus and whose life reveals with haunting detail and uncommon understanding the struggle of young people suffering from mental illness today.
If you scrolled through the Instagram feed of 19-year-old Maddy Holleran, you would see a perfect life: a freshman at an Ivy League school, recruited for the track team, who was also beautiful, popular, and fiercely intelligent. This was a girl who succeeded at everything she tried, and who was only getting started.
But when Maddy began her long-awaited college career, her parents noticed something changed. Previously indefatigable Maddy became withdrawn, and her thoughts centered on how she could change her life. In spite of thousands of hours of practice and study, she contemplated transferring from the school that had once been her dream. When Maddy’s dad, Jim, dropped her off for the first day of spring semester, she held him a second longer than usual. That would be the last time Jim would see his daughter.
WHAT MADE MADDY RUN began as a piece that Kate Fagan, a columnist for espnW, wrote about Maddy’s life. What started as a profile of a successful young athlete whose life ended in suicide became so much larger when Fagan started to hear from other college athletes also struggling with mental illness. This is the story of Maddy Holleran’s life, and her struggle with depression, which also reveals the mounting pressures young people, and college athletes in particular, face to be perfect, especially in an age of relentless connectivity and social media saturation.
I added this book to my reading list after seeing Kate Fagan on an episode of “The Daily Show”. The book sounded fascinating, although heartbreaking. I was able to get the book just a few weeks later, and I immediately did something I probably shouldn’t have: I looked up Madison Holleran on Instagram.
And there she was: a seemingly perfect college athlete, a woman I likely would have thought had her life – a beautiful life – all tied together. But obviously that’s not entirely true. And now, her public Instagram profile serves as a bit of a time capsule – even the picture she posted in the last moments of her life is there – neatly filtered and edited.
We’re all guilty of it: we put things into the public that we are only OK with people knowing. When I was reading this book, I blamed this on social media. But, once I was finished with the book, I went back and read some of Fagan’s earlier work and she made a great point: humans have been editing their outward “look” for years – even when we’d write letters to each other, we would only mention the things we wanted people to know.
Remember AOL messenger? It’s going away this December, but I know I made myself look different online – even through AOL. I would put away messages alluding that I was out, partying, leaving my computer idle for days, when in reality I was sitting in my dorm room watching “Sex and the City”.
Of course, Maddy Holleran was going through much more than a social struggle. She was suffering from a mental illness, and was really feeling the pressures of college, on top of being a sought-after athlete. Here are some of the lines from the book I took note of:
- Many coaches believe these moments are forks in the road, and that choosing to push through the pain – in whatever form that pain comes – is what creates champions.
- …the more polished and put-together someone seems – everything lovely and beautiful and just as it should be – perhaps the more likely something vital is falling apart just offscreen.
- Comparing your everyday existence to someone else’s highlight reel is dangerous for both of you.
- Digital life, and social media at its most complex, is an interweaving of public and private personas, a blending and splintering of identities unlike anything other generations have experienced.
- And nothing turns enjoyment into dread faster than obligation.
I’ll be honest, there were times I felt sick while reading this book. Partially because I knew what was coming and I had mixed feelings about reading it, and partially because I found a lot of myself in Maddy – and that’s scary.
I think there’s a lot to learn from Maddy’s story, and that’s probably why her family let the author in so much – so other families wouldn’t have to suffer from a similar tragedy.
Despite the darkness of this book, I absolutely loved it. The way it was told was respectable, true, and easy to read. I am recommending this book to my social media lovers, and my true-story obsessors. This is one you won’t be able to put down.
The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “The Art of Crash Landing” by Melissa DeCarlo.
I hope you all have a fantastic weekend!
After seeing the previews several times, I saw “Battle of the Sexes” on opening night. While I’m not a sports’ buff, I AM an Emma Stone fan, and I was pleasantly surprised to find out that this movie isn’t reaallllly about sports.
The movie revolves around a real-life tennis match (that turns out to be an all-out war) between Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) and Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell).
Bobby Riggs, a tennis player, but also a well-known gambler, is determined to show a newly-formed women’s tennis league what’s up when he challenges the #1 female player to a match. The winner takes $100,000.
But for the women, it’s about more than the money. It’s about getting equal pay, especially after they stopped competing against men (who were offered more than six times what women were offered). King wanted to win to show women they could earn equal pay, and to show men that women could draw a crowd and be equal-competitors.
But in 1973, more than just equal pay was at stake for King. She was falling in love with a woman behind the scenes of her big dual.
This movie was touching, and at times sad. We’ve come so far in some ways, but in some ways we haven’t. King didn’t want to come out: she was married to a man she obviously loved, and after all, what would people think of her if she admitted her true feelings?
Emma Stone does a superb job emulating King, and I’d venture to say Sarah Silverman has a breakout role as the women’s team manager, comically getting them a cigarette sponsorship.
Definitely a movie worth seeing, even if you already know who wins the big game 🙂
In other news, I’ve added two new items to the Etsy shop and will be adding more items throughout the week! I have also been making SO many of the Holly Golightly Sleep Masks – if you’re looking for a relevant, easy costume, this might just be the accessory you need for Halloween!
I feel like every single day this week kicked my behind – it was the holiday, the chilly weather, and yeah, I just wanted to stay in bed! At least it’s Friday, because I’ve got huge plans to sleep in this weekend and make tortellini soup. How cool am I?
Basically, it’s the perfect season to read a book about HOCKEY. And that’s exactly what Blanche’s Book Club did, as we just finished “99:Stories of the Game” by Wayne Gretsky.
I was really excited when I saw this book on the shelf in the library, because it was just released in November! I snatched it right up and got to reading. Here’s the official description from Amazon:
From minor-hockey phenomenon to Hall of Fame sensation, Wayne Gretzky rewrote the record books, his accomplishments becoming the stuff of legend. Dubbed “The Great One,” he is considered by many to be the greatest hockey player who ever lived. No one has seen more of the game than he has—but he has never discussed in depth just what it was he saw.
For the first time, Gretzky discusses candidly what the game looks like to him and introduces us to the people who inspired and motivated him: mentors, teammates, rivals, the famous and the lesser known. Weaving together lives and moments from an extraordinary career, he reflects on the players who inflamed his imagination when he was a kid, the way he himself figured in the dreams of so many who came after; takes us onto the ice and into the dressing rooms to meet the friends who stood by him and the rivals who spurred him to greater heights; shows us some of the famous moments in hockey history through the eyes of someone who regularly made that history.
Warm, direct, and revelatory, it is a book that gives us number 99, the man and the player, like never before.
As the description says, this isn’t really a book about Gretsky, but moreso a book about the game of hockey and its history. It’s loaded with interesting tidbits – about how long players went before even considering to play while wearing helmets, how the size of the rink affects the game, and how the league was formed.
Of course, there is plenty of information about Gretsky’s story; I had no idea his first professional team was in Indianapolis (Hooooosiers!), and that he spent lots of time practicing on a frozen river, learning to play while dodging frozen sticks and uneven ice… and he often wore skates that were many sizes too small, just for a certain edge in the game.
What I love about sports stories is that they’re really inspirational. There’s lots of hard work; tough stories, and often hard-fought victories. And while coaches and players can often move us with their voices, sports writing is another craft.
I will not say this book is phenomenally written, because it isn’t. But the stories are really interesting and worth the read – perhaps if you’re into audio books, it’s available in that format (check it out, here). Besides, who better to explain the history and the best moments of the game than Gretsky himself?
If you’re a hockey fan, or even just a sports fan, this is definitely a book you’re going to want to check out. The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “One True Loves” by Taylor Jenkins Reid. Read it with us by following me on social media @OrangeJulius7 and chatting!
Have a great, great weekend everyone, and I’ll see you right back here on Monday!
The following is an original piece, written by Holly A. Phillips in 2007. It’s a story based on her favorite hockey player, Sean Avery. Read previous sections of this story here, here, here, here, and here (okay, so it’s kind of long).
Walking usually cleared my mind, but it was still buzzing when I reached the stadium. The lines into the building were the longest I’d seen. It was going to be loud in there. The locker room was noisier than usual, too.
“Black, bro, this is it,” 32 said. “Beat that ass.”
“Planning on it,” I said.
“Dude, you hook up with that chick finally?” 45 asked.
“Oh, c’mon man,” I said. “No, and if I did, now isn’t the time to bring it up.”
“So you did then?” he asked. “I saw some new bitches in your 94 tickets, what’s that about?”
“Seriously man, it’s a big game,” I said. “Pull it together.”
I needed to make my own advice. I couldn’t tell if it was because Kate was coming again or because of the Kings. The stadium was packed. I hadn’t played for a crowd this size in a long time. When I took my place on the ice, front left, the Kings paired me with a new player. Figured.
“Bring it on, Fucker,” he hissed.
I kept my mouth shut. I was the night’s target, as usual. I didn’t need to say anything. Whoever the motherfucker was, he’s been warned about me all week. He could see the bruises on my neck and the leftover black eye on my face. It was going to be a long game. We got the puck first and were gaining on the Kings from the start. One of our rookies roughed up their wingman, sending them both into the box. The Kings always went straight up the middle, so I tried to keep the puck to the side. It was working.
I got my first penalty in the top of the second period. It was minor — persisting in an altercation — but it still cost me two minutes. It was obvious the Kings had been told not to fight with me. Anything I tried to stir up, they ignored. In the box, I studied the game. It was 4-3, Kings. My lip was bleeding. I was waiting for the Kings’ goalie to pull a low blow — he’d done it before. He’d pull his mask off in the middle of the play to start the whole thing over. But we had one more period to tie it up and then win it overtime. I couldn’t get worried now.
My teammates were able to sneak a play behind them and score while I was in the box. We were tied 4-4. I spent the rest of the second period actually playing; moving the puck — but we didn’t score. At half time, I looked for Kate again, but didn’t see her. I knew she had to be there though; we were on good terms this time. In the locker room, coach warned me about penalties in the third period. He said they were probably going to gang up on me, since they hadn’t done much in the first half. He was right.
We lined up before the puck dropped and the banter began.
“Black, you still a badass? Let’s fight,” 24 said. I gritted my mouth guard.
We got the puck after the drop and tried to pass it to the goal from the side. But 12 was blocked — tripped by a stick. But now we had the advantage: Power Play. Only four of their players were on the ice.
“Why don’t you get yourself in the box, Black?” 35 said. I didn’t look at him. I was waiting by their goal, hoping to slap it in at any moment.
“Well, well, look who’s being a badass now,” he said. “Did mommy tell you to ignore the bad boys?”
Damn. These motherfuckers wouldn’t let up. I wanted to swing at him; knock him out like I usually would. But there wasn’t much time left in the period. If we scored, we’d win without having to go into OT.
Two more minutes. I skated to the middle of the rink and found myself back in front of 24.
“Fucker, you’re back?” he said. “Back for more 24…”
“More of what?” I said. “You haven’t done anything. Pussy.”
He did nothing.
I looked behind me to see 12 with the puck again. He was crossing the blue line and there was a clear shot to the goal if he passed it to me. He saw I was open, made the pass, and I skated forward to the goal. The Kings’ goalie wobbled back and forth, ready to block. I went to the side and brought my stick back, ready to shoot. But as I slapped the puck forward, I fell. Someone had pushed me. When I hit the ice, my chin caught me; I big my tongue. I heard the sirens. Goal. I opened my eyes and looked at the clock. 10 seconds. Game over, we won.
We skated past the Kings, and shook their hands, all mumbling the same thing: “Good game.” It wasn’t the way I’d pictured seeing those guys again after skating with them for nearly eight years. But it was work; people got traded and then had to compete against each other. We’d play them again and maybe they’d win. Yeah, right.
I hurried through my locker room routine and went outside to see if Kate was waiting. I searched for her, careful not to talk to anyone else. I had learned my lesson. Through all of the jerseys and foam fingers, I saw her. She was standing in her heels that made her average height, and her hair was down and thick. She was wearing a Rangers’ button.
“Hey there,” I said.
“Hey, congrats,” she said as she hugged me. She smelled good.
“Nice button,” I said. She laughed.
“I’m conforming to the masses.”
“Don’t change too much,” I told her. “I like you like this.”
“You alright?” she asked. “That last fall looked pretty painful.”
“I think I’ll be fine.”
“What now?” she asked.
Home,” I said. “You coming with me?”
“Sure,” she said. “You walking?”
“Of course,” I said. The reporters were just leaving the ice and making their way toward me. “Hurry.”
I took her hand and we walked out of the Garden fast, quick enough to escape the mob. I wasn’t going to deal with it this time. When we got back to the apartment, Kate came inside. We sat on the couch under the Chanel painting. She’d insisted I put ice on my chin; I did it just to appease her. I was drifting in and out of sleep. Soon, my sheets stopped smelling like peppermint. Instead, they smelled like Kate — and I hoped they would for awhile.
The following is an original piece, written by Holly A. Phillips in 2007. It’s a story based on her favorite hockey player, Sean Avery. Read previous sections of this story here, here, here, and here (okay, so it’s kind of long).
“You can sit down,” she said.
I took her word and sat on the couch.
“Did you have fun at the game last night?” I asked.
“Um…it was okay,” she said.
“Well, I met your friend Amanda. She seemed to have a good time.”
Yeah,” she said. She was eyeing an outfit.
“Kate, ok,” I said. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” she said.
“No, seriously,” I said. “I know you’re upset. Come here.”
“Well, if you already know I’m upset, why are you asking?”
“Just come here,” I said. “Please.”
She put the camera down and sat on the other end of the couch, so she wouldn’t touch me.
“Tell me what’s up,” I said.
“I am mad at myself for being mad about it because it’s stupid,” she said. “But it just seemed wrong that you invited me to the game when it’s not really my thing. So I went and I saw all these other girls you obviously invited and I just wondered how many of those cheesecakes do you eat on a weekly basis?”
I tried to keep myself from laughing. She looked gorgeous even when she was mad. She held her hands together and sat them in her lap.
“Kate, it isn’t stupid,” I said. “She comes to all the games. I went out there looking for you.”
She was hesitant.
“I know we haven’t really talked much,” she said. “But I was excited to see you more and then I saw her and…she isn’t me and none of those girls are…”
“Don’t think about them,” I said. “Really, is isn’t like that.”
“It just took a lot for me to go there,” she said. “I don’t chase after guys.”
“So I’ve noticed,” I said. She finally smiled. “You okay?”
“Good,” I said. “Well, I can let you get back to work.”
“You don’t want to stay?” she asked.
Friday came and I was relieved. Practices had been running over the last few days in order to prep for the game. The Kings had us beat in the rankings; coach kept telling us over and over. It was going to be a tough game. I could easily pick apart my teammates, since I knew them. But I needed to actually be on the ice for this one. I was going to have to squeeze in a few jabs past the ref and see if I could stay in the game. Coach pulled me aside after practice. He dropped the Times’ sports section on his desk in front of me. “Black vs. Kings: The Most Anticipated Fight of the Season.”
“Nice article,” he said. “The game is sold out.”
“Oh yea?” I asked. “I hadn’t seen this yet.”
“What do you think? You’ve never played against any of those boys before.”
“Well no, but I played with them for seven seasons,” I know their moves.”
“Good,” he said. “We could use it. The new guys are nervous. Don’t get your ass in the box the entire first period.”
“Let the others get the penalties. Use your head. Play what you know they’ll play.”
“Got it,” I said. “Thanks.”
“Should be a good one.”
When I got back to my apartment, there was a newspaper in front of my door. A section of the story was circled with red pen. It read:
Black is quiet on the subject of women. Despite the obvious female crowd he draws in Madison Square, he said it’s just part of the game.
“As with most professional sports, there are women around,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean there’s one by my bed every night.”
Black puts women in a category with his Kings’ days, as part of his early hockey career.
“I’m not saying it wasn’t flattering,” he said. It is. What man wouldn’t want it? It’s just not as extreme as it seems. I’d like to think I could get laid without my hockey record.”
Thanks, Ed. Written below the article was, “Nice! Good Luck tonight. —K” I’d given her another set of tickets along with a promise not to fuck it up again. I was making progress. I sat on the couch and hoped to fall asleep until game time. But I had no such luck; my mind was racing. I couldn’t get too many penalties that night. I knew it was going to happen; it was a habit for me when I got on the ice.
Hours later, I put on my suit and began the walk to Madison Square.
Next Friday, I’ll post the FINAL installment of “Black & Blue” — When Wade finally meets his match against the Kings. In the meantime, help me shop for a Halloween costume on SnapChat @OrangeJulius7
“Bro, damn, where you going?” 12 asked.
“Out there…you know,” I said.
“Haven’t seen you head that way in… Well, ever,” he said.
When I raced through the door, my eyes scanned the mob of women. No Kate. I kept walking just to make sure. Someone pulled my sweatshirt from behind. I turned around. It was the sign-holding blonde from a few games before.
“Hey Black,” she said. She was grinning. Her lipstick was smeared and her eyes looked droopy. She was drunk.
“Hi. Do I know you?”
“Well maybe not yet,” she said. She swayed back and forth.
“Oh right,” I said. I looked past her face and behind her, still looking for Kate. “Do you know my first name?”
She put a finger to her lips and furrowed her brow. I kept looking while she mumbled different names aloud.
“No,” I said. “Keep guessing.”
Someone tapped my shoulder. I spun around to see a brunette wearing a jersey.
“Wade?” she asked.
“Yes, hi,” I said.
“Wade!” the blonde shrieked. “See, I knew it.”
“Um, yeah. I’m Amanda,” the brunette said. “I came to the game with Kate.”
Amanda pointed a finger behind her. Kate was standing there, cradling a styrofoam cup.
“Cool. It’s nice to meet you,” I said. “How did you like the game?”
“I loved it. I’m a big fan,” she said. She was eyeing the blonde.
“Good,” I said. “Really glad you guys came out. Is Kate alright?” I wondered why I was talking to Amanda and no Kate.
The blonde interjected. “Wade gave you tickets?” she asked.
Amanda nodded. Great.
The p-fuck tugged on my shirt. “I want tickets.”
“You already have tickets,” I said. “You come to all the games.”
“So you have seen me!” she said.
“Well, it was really nice meeting you,” Amanda said. “And thanks again for the tickets.”
“Hey…wait…er…you’re welcome. Maybe I’ll see you later.”
“Look, it’s time for me to go,” I told the blonde. “Have a nice night.”
I turned my back and walked out of the Square and into the cold night. I really fucked it up. I shouldn’t have even talked to the blonde. But I did and Kate saw and she probably thought I was an abusive asshole. I didn’t know how I was going to get myself out of that one. I didn’t know Kate that well. Maybe she didn’t care; maybe she didn’t like me more than just a neighbor so she wouldn’t be upset. No chance in hell. I’d heard the guys in the locker room talk about their wives to know women get pissed over everything. When I got upstairs, I didn’t look at Kate’s door.
The next day, I got a call from The New York Times. The sports section wanted to do an interview with me in light of the Kings’ game that weekend. I was less than thrilled. They wrote a short piece about me when I got signed to the Rangers. The writer made me look like a dick. It was the same story every journalist wanted to cover: “Black Really is the Bad Guy.” Everything I said was going to be taken out of context. But I couldn’t say no. I agreed to meet the writer in the coffee shop downstairs.
The reporter, Ed, was waiting with a mug of coffee and a yellow Steno pad shortly after we’d spoken on the phone. I’d guessed he was running under a tight deadline. Mostly, we talked about the upcoming game. I told him it wasn’t a rival like everyone made it out to be. Hockey was my job and it just happened to be competitive. This, of course, brought up the anger issue and the number of fights I’d been in, which was now in the hundreds. I tried to keep it short, knowing he was going to blow it out of proportion. He asked me about money and politics. He asked me about women, blushing a little when he brought up the girls that danced on the zambony during halftime.
After the interview, I was done for the day. Ed told me to expect the story Friday — the day I would kill the Kings. I went upstairs and threw something frozen into a pot for dinner. While it simmered, I thought of ways to approach Kate again. I was going to have to go back over there and apologize. Shit. I ate and went next door. Kate answered the door, but didn’t say much. She gestured me in, but I didn’t feel like she really wanted me there. She followed me in the house but went to work on a stack of clothes. She was putting shirts with pants and then taking pictures of them.
…Stay tuned for part X of “Black & Blue” right here, next Friday, October 23! In the meantime, follow me on SnapChat, Twitter, and Instagram @OrangeJulius7.
We practiced in a smaller rink right outside the city. Practice began at nine and after warm-ups, drills, and weights; I was out by one and ready for food. I headed back to the apartment after I picked up lunch. I did my usual drill as I walked by Kate’s door, but I didn’t see or hear anything resembling life inside. I hung the Chanel piece over my couch and stepped back to admire it. I was still mouthing Kate’s last words, “I’ll…think…about…it.” Obviously a “no” since I’d just finished hanging the thought in question. She presented a challenge.
I didn’t think she’d ever been to a hockey game. A puck fuck would wait outside the locker room like it was a Barney’s sale. She said she’d seen the game on TV… but only because her friend was over. I doubted she was impressed with my 98 fights or whatever Sports Center said it was. She couldn’t possibly think I was abusive, could she? My curent approach wasn’t working.
That night, I showed up at Kate’s door with a cheesecake I’d gotten a few blocks over. She gave me a weird once-over when she opened the door.
“Well hello again,” she said.
“Hi there,” I replied. “I brought you something.”
“Oh no, Fed Ex really has us mixed up. Great,”she said.
“Well, no. I brought… it’s from me,” I said, pointing at the white box. I handed it to her. “Here.”
She opened its lid slowly. “An entire cheesecake?” she asked.
“I was thinking we could share it,” I said. “You know, eat some of it together.”
She laughed. “Alright. Now?”
“Sure, if you’d like,” I said.
She opened the door wider, inviting me inside. Her apartment was bright and colorful. There were clothes everywhere, but they were neatly stacked and it looked like they were organized somehow.
“Yeah, I bring my work home,” she said. “I know it looks overwhelming.”
“No, don’t worry about it,” I said. “It’s kind of cool.”
I followed her through the entry that opened up into a wide space, a living room shared with a giant dining table under an old chandelier. She put the box down and moved into the kitchen. She was quiet.
“I didn’t mean to impose on you,” I said. “I can just leave this here for you.”
“No, really, it’s fine,” she said, digging for forks.
“You sure?” I asked. “I just wanted to thank you for keeping my painting.”
“It was no problem,” she said. “Would you like something to drink?”
“Absolutely. Wine, if you’ve got it, please,” I said.
She walked back to the table carrying a bottle of sauvingnon blanc and two glasses. Relief. She was tiny; but her blond hair was rich and full looking. She had tan skin and short, dark nails like they were painted with tar.
“So what do you do all day?” I asked. “I know you told me you were a stylist, but…”
“Well, I work at YM, which is almost a very young Cosmo-type of magazine, you know?” she looked up from pouring the wine. “Anyway, I pick and style the clothes before they take pictures for the fashion spreads.”
“That’s cool,” I said. “Is it the same thing every day or what?”
“Well, it depends on what week we’re in as far as deadlines. I travel to different sets around the city and sometimes I’ll go to events or parties for the magazine. It’s alright.”
“That sounds neat,” I said. She smiled and sat down, pushing a plate toward me.
“So…hockey?” she asked.
I laughed. I hated talking about work. Then I hated myself for asking her about being a stylist. Shit.
“Yes, I play hockey,” I said. “What about it?”
“Well how’d that start?” she asked.
“I played when I was younger and through high school. I went to UCLA, kept playing, and got signed with the Kings when I was 26. I just got traded and moved to New York in September.”
“How do you like it here?” she asked. She took a tiny bite.
I shrugged. “It’s what I thought it would be. I love playing in Madison Square; really neat place. You ever been to a game in there?”
She shook her head. “I’ve been to some concerts there, but no sports.”
“Aw, that’s too bad,” I said. You should think about it. You might have a good time.”
“Maybe. I don’t know if I’d fit in with those wild fans over there,” she said.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
She shrugged. “I don’t know. I’ll think about it.”
* * *
I left ttwo tickets with Kate for my next home game. She acted excited when I gave them to her, but I couldn’t tell if it was real. I told her she should bring her friend and I hoped to see her there. For the first time in Madison Square, I was nervous. If Kate hadn’t already heard about my penalty box habit, she was about to see it for herself. After the progress I made with the cheesecake, I wasn’t sure how it would go over for her. I didn’t know if she would even show.
I looked for her after my first few spats on the ice that landed myself in the box, like always. Her tickets were for section 94; right behind the goal. They were the best seats in the house — better than the ones for the p-fucks. I didn’t see her, but I hoped she was watching. After the game, I showered quickly. Maybe she’d be waiting outside the locker room. I hurried to the doorway.
Read part IV of “Black & Blue” right here, next Friday, October 16. In the meantime, catch up with me on SnapChat, Instagram, and Twitter @OrangeJulius7
We played the Wolverines in the Square three days after we killed the Flyers. I had just walked into the locker room when the usual pre-game banter sparked.
“Who you gonna piss off tonight man?” 58 asked.
“I heard Carmen was pretty irritable. I bet I can shake a fucker up,” I told him.
“Dude you really know how to sell tickets,” he said.
“What do you think pays the bills?” I asked.
“Well shit, with all the women who come in this place wearing number 27 maybe your dick could pay the rent.”
“No man. Maybe in my Kings’ days — the twenties. Not when I’m 34.”
The younger teammates always got a kick out of the women in the crowd. Most of the guys my age were married. They’d been through the routine. It was all part of it. Sometimes it was fun and other times, it was tiring. Of course it was flattering, but the women couldn’t handle anything past a decent fuck. I could see the next “Star” cover now: “Black rapes fan; now she’s pregnant” — not a shot in hell. I suited up and got onto the ice.
I spent the same time in the box as I did on the ice. I had found Carmen two minutes into the first period and asked him about his sister — how was she in bed? Apparently, it didn’t settle well and he tried to sever my skull with his stick. I handed him a black eye and we both ended up with a couple of roughing penalties. From the box, I could see the puck bunnies — the team wives, sitting in their usual spot. There were younger children surrounding them, all screaming for cotton candy or a t-shirt probably. I wondered what Kate was doing. Two sections above the wives were the p-fucks. They were loud and exposed.
I took a long shower in the locker room; it was quiet when I got out. I walked home that night. It was almost December in New York. I’d been in town two months, but hadn’t met many people. My social circle didn’t extend beyond my doorman or the team. I didn’t miss L.A. though. Getting signed to the Rangers came at a good time; sometimes the West proved itself a little too crazy for me.
When I reached my floor, I stopped in front of Kate’s place. I reached my hand up to knock on the door, but stopped when the door opened. She had a puzzled look on her face.
“What were you doing?” she asked.
“Oh… I… well I was just getting home from th-“
“The game?” she asked. “Yeah, I saw it was over on TV.”
“You watched it?”
“Well, no, a friend came over and she’s a sports fan. I saw it was on.”
“Oh, I see,” I said, not knowing where to go next.
“Well I was actually heading to your apartment just now,” she said.
“Really?” I asked. I didn’t know her well, but I wasn’t opposed to having a woman around the apartment. She was cute.
“Yeah. The Fed Ex man dropped a painting off here the other day. I opened it thinking it was a dress I’m waiting on, but it definitely isn’t,” she said. “She pulled a giant canvas toward the door. It was painted black with the white Chanel symbol in the middle, joined by a blue-haired woman who was topless.”
“Wow. I’m somewhat embarrassed,” I said, although it cost a fortune and was an amazing piece of work. It was too early to be talking over tits.
“Don’t be,” she said. “I just wouldn’t place you as someone to have this in their apartment, but to each his own I guess.”
“What makes you say that? You think I’m some kind of hard-ass?”
“Don’t flatter yourself,” she said. I didn’t think athletes had a creative side.”
“Ouch,” I said. “Well I do. Would you like to come over and help me decide where to hang it?”
“Are you going to give me a black eye if I say no?” she asked, smiling.
“No…I’m not like-“
“I’ll think about it Mr. Creative,” she said, pushing the canvas toward the door. “Have a good night.”
Shit. I couldn’t remember the last time I heard those words from a woman. I mouthed them with my lips. “I’ll think about it.” I grunted to myself as I picked up the painting with on hand and reached into my pocket for my keys with the other. I leaned the Chanel piece against my living room wall and decided I’d hang it another night. I crawled into my Icy/Hot sheets and wondered if Kate was sleeping with someone.
Read part three of “Black & Blue” next Friday, October 9. Need a Bitter Lemon fix over the weekend? Follow me on SnapChat @OrangeJulius7 to see what I’m up to — I’ll be shaking things up in Kansas City! Care to throw some dollars at the cause? Click “donate” in the upper right corner to buy me a shot.
The following is an original fiction piece, written by Holly A. Phillips in 2007, with great inspiration form her favorite hockey player, Sean Avery.
I had 30 seconds left in the penalty box. From my bench, I could see the rows of puck fucks in the lower sections. “Once we go Black…” one sign read; a blonde was waving it above her head. I squinted my eyes. She didn’t know shit about going Black. The clock timed out and I jumped back onto the ice. Only two minutes left in the game; the game we were going to win.
“Number 27, Wade Black, back in the game.”
I flew past 65, hoping to get another snarl in before the end of the period. He was easy to piss off.
“Look who’s back for more,” he said. “It’s box boy. You want another penalty, fucker?”
I laughed and spit in his direction. My teammate, 45, was already ahead of the blue line with the puck, about to spin it toward me for one more goal, one more slap in the face for the Flyers. I tapped my stick on the ice, waiting.
The puck skidded my way and I slapped it into the goal, fast, yelling as it coasted into the net. The goalie feel to his knees, trying to block it, but had failed. Sweet victory. The sirens roared and so did the fans. I held my stick in the air and scanned the other team for more possible takers — fucking Flyers. Nice try, boys.
Winning was glorious in Madison Square Garden. Fireworks popped and the crowd was loud; decked out in jerseys to match us. The reporters hobbled onto the ice in heels, only to get rejected.
“Black. Just a few questions from WCBS News.”
“Outside the locker room,” I held my hand up in her direction.
I took of my mask, skated off the ice and onto the rubber tiles near the locker room. I was sweaty and my shoulders burned. I walked to my locker, loosening my pads as I neared the benches.
“Hey fuckers, we’re all my clean towels?” I asked.
“Chill out, dick lick,” 23 said. “Check the shelves.”
I glanced in the other direction. Clean towels.
“Hey Black. Saw some ladies out there screamin’ at ya tonight,” 12 said.
“Did ya? Who?” I asked.
“‘Once we go Black…'” he said, laughing. “That was a hot bitch, bro.”
“Well, you can have her,” I said.
“Oh really? She didn’t do it for you?”
“Who the fuck knows. Never seen her. You know I’m over that shit.”
“I swear you’re gay, man, I know it.”
Outside the locker room, the reporter was waiting. She had taken a seat on the wooden benches amongst the 6-year-old boys, their fathers, and the puck fucks.
“Black. Questions?” she asked.
“What’d you say to 65 to start the fight?”
“Oh, I keep that to myself.”
“Okay… What’d you think about tonight’s win?”
“It was expected. Even though we’re full of new players this season, we still come in to win and that’s what we did tonight.”
“What will you do when you face your old team?”
“The Kings are any other team. This is my job, my business.”
“That’s all I need. Thank you.”
I walked past the blonde and saw a boy wearing a tiny Black jersey.”
“Hey buddy,” I knelt down. “You have fun tonight?”
He was silent.
“He’s a little shy,” said an older man with him.
“That’s alright,” I said. I patted him on the head and moved to the driveway, hoping to catch the team driver before the night was over. It was too cold to walk back to my apartment in Chelsea.
By the time I got home, it was past midnight. I made it to my floor, empty as usual. There were only two other doors on the floor; one belonged to an older man, a writer who never emerged. The other to Kate; she styled clothes for a teen magazine. I walked past her door, 9, and tried to see if there was any light coming from under the door. No luck.
My apartment was dark and quiet. It still smelled like paint. I flipped on the TV and sat on the couch. Sports Center.
“Rangers score second win over the Flyers this season. Black gets into his 98th brawl. We’ve got highlights here on Sports Center tonight.”
“Who keeps track of this shit?” I asked the TV.
I coasted through the channels, drifting in and out of sleep. I tried to coax myself into the bedroom. I had practice in the morning. I rolled off the couch and moved to my bedroom. There was no beautiful woman by my bed that night. I slid between the coolsheets and tucked a pillow under my neck; it smelled of Icy/Hot. Back in L.A., when I first signed for the Kings, I never went home alone. My L.A, sheets didn’t smell like me, they were scented with Dior and Armani. Their perfumes lasted, but those women were states away, probably still at the Kings’ games. I drifted off to sleep and tried to remember the name of the last girl I slept with; it was after the Kings played Colorado…
* * *
Wanna know what happens to Black? Check out part II next Friday, October 2!
In the meantime, I’m heading to Baton Rouge this weekend to say a final goodbye to my apartment, and well, I suppose I’ll drink to the Tigers kicking some ass! Check it out on SnapChat @OrangeJulius7
Happy Friday, y’all!
It’s finally here. What some would call the most wonderful time of the year: football season is upon us.
What I’m about to admit is going to lock in my single status for the rest of my life, but here goes…
I’m not really a fan of football.
There, I said it. I’m a Yankee and I prefer hoops. But, I understand that football is a necessary evil of living in Baton Rouge.
Don’t get me wrong; a Saturday night in Death Valley is an experience like no other. And I always hope the Tigers win.
But during these months, any and nearly every male in this city is consumed with football.
So, whether you’re single or in a relationship, it’s time to accept reality, buckle down and have a game plan for surviving the next six months.
And yes, I know, there are lots (and lots) of women out there who love football just as much as the men do.
But for those of us who are on the struggle bus when it comes to the sport, there are ways to cope.
For starters, you’ve already got a team to root for — the Tigers — so you can start building your Game Day wardrobe.
Whether it’s for a night in the stadium, tailgating, or a house party, you’ll need plenty of purple and gold.
Next, find the good things about football. Personally, I like the fact that day drinking is not only accepted, it’s required. So, bring on the bloody Marys, cases of cheap beer, and the LSU Jell-O shots.
There are also the amazing spreads of food that go hand-in-hand with the drinks.
And finally, there are the hot guys — on and off the field.
The next step in surviving football season is (take a deep breath) attempting to learn the rules. I still don’t understand all of the rules and calls, but once you get the hang of it, the game gets a little more interesting.
Finally, if you really want to get into it, and perhaps earn a little cash, throw some money on it. Bet on it.
If I’ve learned one thing living here, you never bet against the Tigers.
Over the years, I’ve seen infamous eye rolls from women when their boyfriends or husbands mention “the game.”
But, we all have our passions. My passion isn’t football, but I love to cook. So, if I get invited to a tailgate, I’ll be there with homemade chili.
And what better way to get to a man’s heart, amiright?
I will say, though, that seeing a man get so into something (yes, even football) is pretty sexy.
Few things fuel men: sex, grilling, and sports. So, let’s roll with it.
If anything, football season is the kickoff for fall, hopes of cooler weather, and right around the corner are the holidays. It really is a great time of year.
So, fan or not, slap on your war paint (purple eyeliner), take a shot (homemade moonshine), and get in the game.
The chances are, you’ll meet someone new, and won’t you look so festive and cool knowing a few things about football?
That is what I call a touchdown with a two-point conversion. In other words, it’s a major score.