Seeking a Friend For The End of The Season
Does art imitates life or life imitate art? Not sure but I have often run across situations in a movie that reminds me of something from my youth hockey life. Take for example the movie Seeking A Friend For the End of the World, with Steve Carell and Keira Knightley. As described by IMDB: "As an asteroid nears Earth, a man finds himself alone after his wife leaves in a panic. He decides to take a road trip to reunite with his high school sweetheart. Accompanying him is a neighbor who inadvertently puts a wrench in his plan."
Sounds heartwarming doesn't it? Actually it is. If you haven't seen it, I encourage you to do so. Fine performances, sweet and engaging. But you may be asking what does this have to do with hockey?
I am getting there.
The beginning of the film shows how differently people take the news of their impending doom. Some are still going to work at their crappy insurance jobs (why??) Some are still going to the gym (even bigger why??) Even Carell's cleaning lady still shows up to Pledge his dining room table. His wife, however makes a dramatic exit by fleeing the car and that is the last we see of her. Some are celebrating the end of days in grandiose fashion by partying, throwing caution to the wind with unprotected, promiscuous sex and allowing their children to have their first taste of alcohol about eleven years too soon.
This behavior is not unlike the last couple of weeks before the end of a hockey season. Let me deconstruct the behavioral patterns I have seen in the rink that mimic Seeking A Friend for the End of the World.
Known for sticking their heads in the sand, these hockey parents show up to each and every practice/game as if it was any other day. The end still seems so far away and we have all those playoff games, and then districts and then maybe national championships. We still have LOTS of time left. The reality is that all of this happens within a short two week window. This behavior is along the same lines of thinking as the man mowing his lawn in the movie. Apparently we must have a freshly manicured lawn for Armageddon and freshly pressed jerseys for those last games.
Nothing like the end-of-a-season or the end-of-the-world to bring out everyone's true colors. Hockey parents who accept their fate with glorious abandon believe strongly that no conversations are off limits, no cheering or chirping is too offensive and it's all the refs' faults! Much like Carell's partying friend who crows in glee "Heroin?! Bucket, bucket list!" Make every last second count, damn the consequences!
These parents accept that the end is near in a quiet appreciation, knowing that things will never quite be the same. For who knows what members of the team will go elsewhere or what coaches may decide to hang up their whistle. Understanding, knowing, accepting and embracing, these parents make peace with the end. Carell and Knightley embrace their fate and their journey is about making amends for the past and enjoying the present. I compare the lovely beach scene in the film where everyone gathers to the small group of hockey parents huddled at the glass watching the last handshake line. Endearing and a little sad. You can't do something eight months out of a year, year in and year out without it leaving its indelible mark on your soul.
The last game represents the asteroid hurtling towards us with no warning. Even as we stand there as hugs are given, tears are shed, photos are taken and thanks are offered up to the tireless coaching staff, it just isn't real. The annihilation of the season isn't complete yet.
Only when the equipment goes in to hibernation for a while, Monday night comes and goes without a practice, and the turntable stops turning in the film, have we faced the asteroid.
NOW who will I hang out with three or four times a week? As the credits roll, who will be my friend at the end of the season?
How do YOU handle the end of the season? Are you like me digging deep and having the feels or is it just another season? Let me know!