I was sitting at my desk working when the offensive news alert came through my email: "NHL lockout over."
I tried to stay calm. But inside, I was already quietly mourning the loss of long walks on the beach, actual conversation over dinner, live concerts and three-hour trips to the home décor store for decorative pillows. Activities once commonplace on Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons during the NHL lockout, these fun times will cease this weekend when the puck finally drops on the NHL's compressed 48game season.
The NHL is the mistress and I am the wife. In short, that's like being the Brussels sprouts at Christmas dinner or the sunflower seeds in some kid's bag of Halloween candy - better for you yet always taken for granted and chosen last.
The lockout gave my husband and I a September to January romance. Without hockey, Saturday nights were spent - gasp! - together. We went to shows, spoke to each other over meals and took the dog on so many long walks that I don't think there was a single inch of Delta's diking system we didn't cover.
There were other benefits, too. No traffic to battle driving home from work on game day. No family disputes over the merit of a referee's call. No mood swings in alignment with the Canucks' wins and losses. No Don Cherry yelling at me from the TV while simultaneously burning out my corneas with his suits.
Finally, without professional hockey to compare it to, the beer league my husband plays in looked a lot sharper. I could no longer tell he only skates one-12th as fast as Ryan Kesler. Must be the ice.
Speaking of Kesler, don't get me wrong here. I appreciate the spectacle of mythical human perfection, of Adonis essentially brought to life, as much as the next person, and have even been guilty of watching the odd game myself. I own two Canucks T-shirts, one Canucks jersey and a Canucks baseball cap, which I pull out during playoff season if the Canucks are in them (yup, that's me driving that infuriating bandwagon).
As the slogan goes, we are all Canucks.
But that doesn't mean I won't miss all those things that characterized the absence of NHL hockey.
That is, except for one thing, which I noticed on Saturday night.
We were supposed to watch a movie; I went downstairs to see how the popcorn was doing, and instead of the sound of kernels exploding inside a bag of chemicals in the microwave, I heard the unmistakable, overexcited, overloud and over-the-top sound of an overpaid sports announcer. What was this new horror?
It was NFL playoff football on TV. My husband was transfixed. His eyes were glazed over. He didn't register my voice.
It only got worse. The next day, he struck up a random conversation with the cashier at the Centennial Beach Café, who was wearing a Seattle Seahawks hat. I couldn't even tell what they were saying the terminology was so foreign.
Maybe the NHL lockout isn't over too early, but just in time.