April 14, 2007

Hockey Night In Anaheim

Yesterday night, I accepted a friend's invitation to go to a game of the Stanley Cup Quarterfinals. It was a night of big fun. Four guys at a hockey game, drinking beer, cheering at the action. Sounds pretty proletarian, doesn't it?

It's not. Honda Stadium (formerly the Arrowhead Pond) in Anaheim is a posh venue for sports, and my friend, a forensic accountant, has premium tickets that he gets for his client development. He gets season tickets and sells most of them during the regular season. But the Ducks are good enough that he knows he'll have a good chance most years of seeing the Ducks in the playoffs, and he goes to the playoff games pretty regularly.

He had a luxury box one time that he invited a lot of people to, but it was actually kind of distracting from trying to watch the game. A good client development function for him and a good networking opportunity for the rest of us, but we were barely conscious that there was a game going on, and everyone kind of missed actually watching the game. So now it's the regular seats down close to the ice.

So the seats are three rows up from the glass, on the back side of the rink (the same side as the penalty boxes). That's pretty nice all by itself. But even nicer is getting to the arena early to meet up at the Anaheim Club above the mezzanine level. There, the club has a bar and a posh restaurant, where we sat in comfort and dined upon boeuf au poivre, roast leg of lamb with mint-cilantro sauce, spring bean salad, and seared scallops (I skipped the scallops as they cause an allergic reaction). The club restaurant was pretty crowded and we had to wait a while to get seated, but it was certainly worth it.

I noticed while at the rink that Orange County women all seemed to look exactly alike. They all have the same whitened teeth, blond hair (and they let their roots grow out a long time before re-coloring it), the same boob jobs and tight shirts to show them off, and the same the shoulder-length "V" haircuts, you know what I'm talking about, the bangs-and-big-hair cheerleader look. Seeing so many women done up like this was kind of like taking a time warp back to 1986. I'm not complaining that they were unattractive -- but there are other ways women can present themselves to the world in an attractive way, too. It was more the uniformity of their appearance than anything else that struck me.

The game was, like all ice hockey games, quite intense and a lot of fun. I don't think I've ever been to a Ducks home game that I didn't see the Ducks win, and last night was no exception. The winning Ducks goal was scored a short-handed, which is impressive to see. For those of you Loyal Readers who have never been to see hockey played live, it is astonishing how fast these players move out on the ice, and at the NHL level, these are really, monstrously big guys who are scary-looking on top of being really fast. The body checks against the glass are big fun and, frankly, so are the fights -- although I do wish that the referees would break up the fights and penalize them more seriously so the guys would play hockey.

I considered buying a jersey for The Wife while I was there; the new black-and-gold Anaheim color scheme and logos are pretty cool-looking and The Wife would no doubt find an oversized jersey comfortable for sleeping. But, I didn't, because the kids working the merchandise sales booth were too busy gossiping with each other to pay attention to potential customers and I wasn't entirely sure that The Wife would want a hockey jersey at all -- she's enjoyed hockey games in the past but I don't know that she's enjoyed them enough to actually wear a sports garment, even if only as sleepwear. I think she'd look cute in the jersey, though.

This was a boys' night out, but if the Ducks continue to play well, they will be going far in the postseason and there may be an opportunity for The Wife to go to a game later on. The Wife doesn't look like an O.C. Barbie Doll, for which I am grateful, and I like to share fun things like this with her.

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