There’s always one. He's that blowhard, big mouth, inappropriate, thuggish, and often hilarious idiot who you play with in beer league hockey. I'm often amused by his very un-politically correct behavior, his willingness to say what the worst angels of our nature are thinking, but I'm not confused as to how much responsibility I'd give him in the areas of my life that matter.
For his habit of leaping on a moment and hollering the most basic, boorish, eight-year-old-boy thing that comes to mind, I’ll call him Trounce. And it’s not just the first thing that comes to his mind, it’s the first thing that comes to all of our minds. He calls the fat refs fat, yells back at the hecklers, offers to meet them outside. He says the things that we filter, that we eschew in favor of a more reasoned approach.
And he acts on these impulses too. He takes cheap shots, he charges and cross-checks, hacks and whacks. And God forbid anyone take a cheap shot at one of our players. Trounce is the first to run them.
He’ll stick up for our players, even when our guys are completely in the wrong. And our guys are often completely in the wrong. He’ll not think twice to punch someone in the face, or to threaten to have them carried out on a stretcher.
But you like having Trounce on your team.
You like it because that means he’s not on the other team, playing against you. He may be an a-hole, but he’s your a-hole and there’s something to be said for absolute, unswerving loyalty. It’s tough to find these days.
And you like Trounce because he’s not complex. He’s simple and straight-forward and you know what you’re going to get. And that is part of what we all show up at men’s league hockey for; by the time we get to the rink we’ve all had enough of our complex lives, of the narrow confines of work-a-day worlds, of compromise and capitulation. We’re done with the thinking parts of our day. We want to skate hard, battle, drill a shot, have a beer and go home.
Did I mention that Trounce brings the beer? He drinks a lot of it, but he’s quick to share too.
All in all, he’s a guy that most of us like on the ice and in the locker room, but we’re not confused about the role that Trounce plays in our lives. We want to play beer league hockey with the guy, and if we don’t see him until we show up at the rink next week, well, that’s just fine. We really don’t need or want him in our responsible, adult lives.
I certainly don’t; I’m not confused over which type of person I want in which spheres of my life. I don’t pretend that the guilty glee I find in watching Trounce express our collective id on the ice qualifies him to do anything more than that in my life.
I certainly wouldn’t want Trounce managing employees or negotiating deals for my company. I wouldn’t want to find him running my kids’ schools, overseeing the tax code, or presiding over the 9th District Court. I wouldn’t want him running the police or fire department. Or, for that matter, any job that requires intelligence, thoughtfulness, creativity, and civility.
There may be a striking parallel to this year’s presidential primaries in this brief post. But what does a dumb old hockey player who’s looking forward to a hard skate and a cold beer know about that sort of thing?