Anti Masking (I’ll Take a Cup)

The olympics have come to a close. Sadly, I didn’t watch much, but I remember when the Winter Olympics closed in 1980. I was seven, and it wasn’t over for us.

My brothers, friends and I took the closing ceremonies to a different level after the US Hockey team won the gold medal. We took it to our basement for the next year.

At seven years of age, I was chosen to be the goalie, because I was stupid and respected Jim Craig, the goalie for the US Hockey team, and I also wanted to block shots with a mask adorned with a Shamrock. That dream ended when I became simply a target for my older brothers and their friends. My mask didn’t have a shamrock tattooed on it. It was far worse. In our basement, I found something resembling a mask covering your nose and mouth. After placing it upon my mouth with a rubber band and electrical tape, someone said to me, “You idiot. That’s a cup.” At age seven, I didn’t know the difference between a mask and a cup. Let’s be clear. I’m already stupid……but can you imagine how dumb I was at seven?

As premature baseball players, one was required to wear a cup protecting their genitals from being hit, swollen, disfigured, malnourished or even ruptured. I didn’t know this. Not sure if I even had balls then.

I wrapped it around my head as though I was a motocross racer. It was quite similar, and at a much smaller scale, resembled a goalie’s mask. It had holes for breathing. Not sure why nuts required that. I guess it was a sweat issue.

We also didn’t have hockey sticks. These were replaced with golf clubs donated by my father’s friends from a country club which he was not a member. No pucks…. Only used golf balls. Ice? Negative. The concrete floor was as close as we could get to Lake Placid.

Everyone but me chose their weapons. The forwards chose two, three, four or even five irons. Anything above that would elevate their slap shot above my ribs or head. A pitching wedge was just unmentionable, because it may break the already dim ceiling lights in the basement.

I was left with a putter, cup and a catcher’s baseball chest protector.

I don’t know if I was more terrified of the golf balls aimed at me, because the opposing team didn’t seem interested in scoring, or the basement shrapnel flying from the floor. (By the time mom discovered what we were doing, it was too late to stop us or call for help) I did also have a baseball glove in hand and some athletic tape surrounding my forearms to disguise any bruises.

Never finishing a game with the USA Flag wrapped around me, rather, I paraded around the basement with something more like a beach towel we found at a local river covered with sand, hair, and cheap suntan lotion.

Thanks to the “cup”, I never suffered a broken nose. And, I never finished a game with a red, white and blue flag. Black and blue was fine with me.

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