I went to the Islanders game last night. Live hockey is great, but my favorite parts of the game are always the T-shirt Toss, the Chuck-a-Puck, anything that involves a little audience participation. The odds of winning something are really slim, but for some reason I alway have this feeling of certainty, like this time’s going to be different, this time I’m going to walk out of here with a prize.
It’s not impossible, it’s not like winning the lottery. I went to a different game like a week ago, and my brother almost caught a t-shirt. I say almost because he and this other guy both caught opposite ends of the shirt at the same time, and my brother, is a display of being the bigger person, he looked at the guy and said, “I don’t care, you want it?” and the other guy responded with a really big yank, he walked back to his seat with the t-shirt and gave his buddy a huge high-five.
Every time there’s an intermission, I’m thinking, come on, where are the Ice Girls? How come they don’t have the t-shirt guns? I’ve always wondered who came up with the idea for the t-shirt gun. It’s like a plastic bazooka, they roll up the t-shirts and stuff them in the barrel, and bam, those things are in the air. How fast do those projectiles fly? Like, could I withstand a t-shirt gunshot at point blank range?
Anyway, the Ice Girls didn’t wind up skating out with their guns until the first intermission. “Who wants a t-shirt?” the announcer screamed over the loudspeakers, and I didn’t respond out loud, because it was obvious, I was standing on top of my seat, waving my hands in the air, trying to get one an Ice Girl’s attention, to shoot over this way.
One of them came close, like it was definitely shot in my general direction, but it was maybe five feet too high for me to reach. I could see the screen-printed logo as the shirt sailed overhead, for a moment, it was like time stopped, like it was hovering just impossibly right over my head, so close, yet totally beyond my possession.
They only fired like two rounds each, the other Ice Girl closest to our section, she kept firing blanks, the t-shirts barely making it over the boards, like here you go front row spectators, in addition to having the best seats in the house, enjoy all of the free t-shirts. Which, I’m sorry, that’s totally antithetical to the very idea of the free t-shirt. It’s not for the people sitting up close, it’s a slightly out-of-touch reward for the average sportsgoer, the few times in life when the masses are supposed to look to something and say, I have a better chance than the people up front of catching that prize.
The first intermission came and went, I stood there on my chair with no t-shirt until the people behind me started yelling at me to sit down. During the second period, all I could think about was the Chuck-a-Puck. For ten bucks, you buy a bag of five orange foam hockey pucks. As soon as the second period ends, the Ice Girls bring out this bulls eye and place it over center ice. You get thirty seconds to throw your pucks to the rink, the closest puck wins a cash prize.
I’ve done the Chuck-a-Puck before, and I was ready. You can’t just throw them, you have to kind of spin them, like a Frisbee, but not exactly like a Frisbee, only kind of, and you have to think about which way it’s going to bounce. It was difficult to keep track of where my pucks were landing, I mean, everybody else in attendance was launching theirs in the same direction as mine, but I was positive that four out of five of my pucks landed right in the center.
And then the Ice Girl skated over, she didn’t even really measure any of the pucks, she just grabbed one at random, and it’s wasn’t mine. Come on, I don’t want to tell you how to do your job or anything, but maybe just eyeball it a little, you know, spend maybe five seconds of consideration, hmm, which one of these is closest? Because it definitely wasn’t the one you picked.
While I was still smarting from my Chuck-a-Puck defeat, they announced the winners for the 50-50 raffle. I swear to God, I was one number off. Man, that would have been so awesome to have gone home with twelve hundred bucks. I couldn’t stop thinking about it, which really caused a lot of pain, because what was thinking about it going to do?
On the way out of the Coliseum, I tried to match my parking ticket stub with some sporting goods store coupon contest, but I lost. I bought a Coke on the way out, and I looked under the cap, I had won a free Coke. I was so pumped, but I can’t find the cap anywhere, and my brother drove me back, so it’s definitely not on me, it has to still be in the car, I hope it doesn’t get thrown out. When I was taking my dog out for a walk when I got home, I saw a bunch of crumpled up lotto tickets by the trashcan on the corner, and I know they were probably all confirmed losers, but I had this idea that whoever checked the numbers might have missed something, like maybe he misread the winning numbers, and I’d find it, and it would be like extraordinary good luck. But I went home and checked, and they were all losers, and one of them had this slimy stuff on the corner, and I couldn’t help but think it was something really gross, and why did I bring it into my house?