Sunday, January 13, 2008

Next time I'll ask him to sign my chest

I normally reserve my trips to West Edmonton Mall for times when I want to feel morally superior to the rest of humanity, but with the Oilers annual autograph session taking place in the shopping pit of despair yesterday, myself and friend/artist/man-about-town Raymond E. Q. P. H. Biesinger made our way out to Der Maller in hopes of catching a glimpse of our hometown boys.

Somewhat imposed by lines that stretched out like magicians' handkerchiefs, we fatted ourselves on clandestinely overcharged food court pizza, then nestled into the Phase One line that lead to Mssrs Mathieu Garon and Zachariah Stortini. Admittedly, Garon was our primary target here: ever since taking a cotton to hockey in the Stanley Cup Run of Aught Six, Mr Biesinger has had it in his head that it would be really cool to design a goaltender's mask, egged on in his interest by the fact that most masks tend to look like they were designed and executed by Guru Digital Media grads working solely in MS Paint (note to any Guru Digital Media grads who are reading this: I think we owe each other an apology). We figured a little face time with our new number one would be better than a kind letter and some samples.

Nevertheless, it was also a chance to get an up-close look at the man they call Huggy Bear, the shaggy pugilist we send out to sweat on other teams' goons whenever someone knees Ales Hemsky. Considering there was a story in the Journal that very day that basically confirmed that Garon is now the main man in nets, it was sort of surprising how many people, including a handful actually wearing his jersey, had showed up primarily to bask in the glory of "Storts," or whatever his tremendously thoughtful, nuanced locker room nickname is. I'm sure that there is deep-seated psychological reason for this—Stortini certainly provides a link to the virile, violent, hypermasculine past, especially for the type of man whose survival instincts have been reduced to wearing golf shirts on casual Fridays and taking his car into Lubex four times a year—but in the mean time it was nice to know that all you really have to do to win the love of some people is smile and get punched in the face a lot.

About an hour into our line-waiting, possibly high on the intermingled fumes of Island Inkjet and eight dozen pairs of sweaty 10-year-old boy palms, and after a quick letter count, we decided it would be a hilarious idea to Cape Fear Stortini's name across my knuckles, in a show of solidarity with both Stortini and his followers. Though I was slightly nervous that flashing knuckles at Zach Attack would trigger some kind of Pavlovian response that would lead to a tragic and untimely death by hugging, I figured if nothing else it would draw more of a response than slipping a hastily autographed card my way and remarking on the length of the line. (Just as a side note, I don't want the previous comment to seem like I find fault the individual Oilers for taking such a tack: there were approximately one zillion, bajillion people in each and every line, wanting everything from hockey sticks to 38DDs signed [further side note: I can't verify if the latter is true], and I for one will be surprised if most of them can even pick up a stick tonight, let alone get a decent wrist shot away.)

When the moment finally came, Stortini seemed pleasantly surprised—probably not in the least because I'm a 5'9" dandy who tends to dress like an eccentric uncle from a lesser Dickensian work—and even seemed to half-consider my suggestion that he take to decorating his knuckles in a similar fashion. It will probably be nothing more than a good story to tell the locker room boys and possibly the grandkids, but on the off chance Gene Principe mentions them in a between-periods interview, I'm going to demand some residuals.

As for Raymond's quest, Garon seemed surprised if somewhat aloof, though to be honest he seemed so shell-shocked by the endless hordes he probably wouldn't have blinked if the second coming of Jesus had walked out of The Love Boutique in fishnets and heels. I'll keep you updated on further developments.

Anyway, to finish this rambling tale of brotherhood, here are three fun facts I learned about Zach Stortini:

1) I am a solid 16 months older than him, which really only drove home what a puny, hairless nancy boy I am.
2) Though there's been much (fairly warranted) talk on the blogosphere of his ineffectiveness as both a hockey player and an enforcer, Zach is nevertheless a stand-up, Teddy Bear of an individual. Judging from both the cordial, friendly way he handled children and the slightly bemused way he handled my knuckles, I suspect he's Nuke LaLooshing his way through interviews with Gene Principe, which earns a plus from me.
3) He was born on September 11: Zach "Twin Towers" Stortini, anyone? He looks big and impressive, but he's not as hard to knock down as you'd think. (Too soon?)

17 comments:

Kirk said...

Too soon or not, I'm gonna fall with you because I laughed aloud when I read 3).

GOILERS!

sacamano said...

I wish you'd taken your hotoff photo (sadly unlinkable) to be signed. Then we would have seen how much of a stand-up guy he really is.

grease trap said...

too soon?

Maybe, but hilariously off-side.

sac..was that intended to be supergay?

Anonymous said...

I like Stortini. He is one of the few Oilers who cares...

mike w said...

About what?

If I had to spend my Saturday signing goobers' jerseys I might be a bit glazed over myself.

mike w said...

By the way Dave, I assume you're never going to wash those knuckles again?

marriedtotheoil said...

We've been calling him Zach "What's in a" Stortini.

Surely somewhere on Whyte is capable of rising to that challenge, no?

Pleasure Motors said...

By the way Dave, I assume you're never going to wash those knuckles again?

I'm getting the tattoo next week.

Chris O said...

I'm always down for a 9/11 quip. Since that fateful day, I've always wanted to talk with someone who's birthday is 9/11. How do they handle it, I wonder? Everyone knows there's no fun to be had on that day anymore. At least for the last few years anyway.

Lord Bob said...

I'm always down for a 9/11 quip. Since that fateful day, I've always wanted to talk with someone who's birthday is 9/11. How do they handle it, I wonder? Everyone knows there's no fun to be had on that day anymore. At least for the last few years anyway.

Wouldn't that be the best birthday party ever, though? Plus, you could hear columnists say things like 'in a post-9/11 world, police should tase anybody who blinks funny' and be proud that you had such an impact on the world.

Doogie said...

My birthday is 9/12 so I don't get any of that hilarious trauma/hijinks. Too bad, I think I'd have enjoyed bitching about "those fucking terrorists of Aught One" for the next sixty or seventy years. I'm a born complainer.

Also, GOILERS! How's it feel to be in the midst of a ten-game winning streak? (Possibly for real this time, judging by the next few games of the sched.)

James Mirtle said...

A standup fellow had a 9/11 joke on Leno the other night... it didn't go over so well.

Chris O said...

If you're on Leno your best bet is to stick with the OJ/Lewinski/George W jokes. Leno's been selling that for well over a decade.

mike w said...

Although I gotta say that saying TOOO SOOON to almost anything has been a favourite joke of mine lately...

Eyeris said...

On the most recent anniversary of 9/11, the top most read and most e-mailed article of the New York Times was about a recently deceased parrot who could count and distinguish colours (back when it was alive). In fact, that article somehow simultaneously occupied the #1 and #4 spot at some point, and stayed on #1 for the next two days. The accompanying editorial also made it to the Top 10. None of the 9/11 articles made it to the Top 10 that week.

So really, nobody in the States, with the exception of Rudy Guilani and his campaign manager, even care about 9/11 anymore.

redninja said...

Has anyone yet coined the fisticuff phrase "Stortini-bopper"? As in "ooh, Morley, he gave him a real Stortini-bopper there, and Matthew Lombardi is slow to get up..."

Andrew said...

Pleasure Motors:
You are one funny guy!

Andrew