There's a loud man in my neighbourhood.
Well, actually, he isn't loud, he's VERY LOUD!
He's that rattle the windows, turn heads at the River Village Coop Grocery, render sterile every rabbit within 2 miles kinda loud! Compared to him a bellow is a whisper.
Normally he isn't loud at all, rather a decent sort of chap, one of those geek types with an office squirreled away in the corner of his house, a pale, quiet guy who listens to Bocelli and cries at old Delores Hart movies.
Occasionally he will pop out onto the back deck for a pipe, or just to hang over the railing and discuss the merits of goat shit on the neighbours tomato plants.
Quietly, of course.
If you meet the loud man on the street he is courteous to a fault, smiling a toothy grin and waving, sometimes even stopping to say "Hello!" and share a bit of Marcy Street gossip.
But late at night, when the streetlights are buzzing that murky yellow dinge that passes for just enough safety to avoid hitting the big maple tree across the road, you can hear The Loud Man starting up in his TV room, the first rattling windows and the odd clay pot falling off the porch at Bertha's half a block away.
See, The Loud Man is a hockey fan.
Not just any old hockey fan mind you, he's a Vancouver 'I have followed you B**tards for 40 years and what have you ever done for me?' Canucks fan.
Now for those who don't know the NHL from a hangnail, the Vancouver Canucks are a lesson in exasperation and futility, close but no cigar, Chicago Cubs-like, or Toronto Maple Leafs-like (well maybe not that bad). Sort of like the kid down the street who joins your baseball team, hits homers the first two times he bats, then strikes out 257 times in a row.
Since 1970 the Vancouver Canucks have only ever been past the 2nd round of the playoffs 3 times – 1982, 1994 and 2011 (this year). In the meantime they have oscillated wildly from top of the league to needing a stepladder to see the 2nd from last team. And no matter how well they do in the regular season, come playoff time, with Lord Stanley's shiny silver mug on the line, they choke. And I mean CHOKE! A 3 games to nothing lead in a series is never safe to a Canucks fan. No Siree, there is nothing safe about watching the Canucks playing for Lord Stanley's Mug!
Now to be fair the last few years they have been eliminated from competition by the eventual Cup winner. But still… Needless to say there are very few Vancouver Canucks in the Hockey Hall of Fame!
Through all this The Loud Man has loyally followed the boys in Royal Blue and Seagreen. Religiously hauling out his Canucks jersey for opening day, wearing a series of somewhat ratty Canucks tee shirts during the season, even a Canucks hoody when the weather turns colder. He knows every stat for every Canuck since 1970 and can tell you exactly which nagging injury is plaguing a Samuelsson or Raymond long before it hits Twitter or Facebook.
Most of the guys in town have a hobby. Some like to rebuild old cars, or tractors. Snowmobiles and four-wheelers are popular – one fellow even has the hobby of tottering back and forth to the LCBO every day.
The Loud Man just seems to well, like, hockey – A LOT! Perhaps 'like' is the wrong word. Maybe 'passionate, inventor of new anatomically impossible words, foam at the mouth fanatic' comes closer to the truth.
Thankfully he lives in Ontario, three hours east of Vancouver, so the Canucks games start at 10 p.m. local time, long after impressionable youngsters have trundled off to bed. How many young lives would be traumatically scarred finding out this quiet man who trundles up and down the street or delivers his 6 year old to Hillcrest Central School is actually a 'closet puck psycho'?
A couple nights ago my wife and I were watching TV.
Looking over the top of her spinning wheel my wife commented matter of factly, "He can't hear you you know?"
"Who is that?", I answered.
"Luongo…", she replied, without looking up from plying the Pollsworth – Merino worsted weight.
"But did you see that?", I replied, "THAT was such a softie!!"
"True," she added, "but really dear, no matter how LOUD you yell they still can't hear you in Vancouver!"
I slunk out the back for a quiet pipe in the night air.