Dad and I are sitting in the stands at a Hartford Whalers hockey game. Our seats are twenty rows up from the glass in a corner of the rink. Two rows below us sits a huge guy wearing a team jersey displaying the name of a player across the shoulders.
The ref blows his whistle and points at a Whaler, who starts skating toward the penalty box.
“Oh bullllllllshit!” the fan shouts, erupting in fury at what was obviously a correct call. “You suck, Smith!”
The uber-fan below us has been doing this pretty much since the game started. His target is primarily the referees, but players on both sides are periodically subjected to his wrath. The two people sitting directly below him got up out their seats after the first five minutes of the heckling. They’re yet to return.
Just before the game re-starts the uber-fan screams “You suck Marshall!” The target of his wrath is the opposing team’s goalie, who is yet to give up a goal.
The ref drops the puck. A whaler player takes control of it and crosses the blue line. He winds up and unleashes a slap shot. The puck glances off another player’s stick and arcs into the air. It clears the glass and starts flying straight at us. People in the audience bend and duck for cover.
The uber-fan is looking at something away from the ice. He turns back to watch the game at the last minute, when the puck is just feet from his body. It slams into the Big Gulp the guy is holding. The mega-sized drink explodes into a shower of soda and ice. The guy gets drenched.
And, for a moment at least, silenced. In a few years time the roof of this stadium will collapse after a heavy snow storm and the building will be demolished. God, it seems, works in mysterious ways.