Anger in its time and place
May assume a kind of grace.
It must have some reason in it,
And not last beyond a minute.
From the poem Anger by Charles Lamb
How quickly love can turn to hate, sweet murmurings to spiteful hisses, sporting wrist shots to explosions of fury.
It was just a few weeks ago that I was like a proud new groom, celebrating my good fortune at having landed my latest hockey training device – a radar gun designed to detect the speed of sports projectiles.
How gently I handled my prize during those first blissful days, quickly brushing off any dust or scuffs that dared to defile its surface and actively ignoring any quirks that could be construed as shortcomings. But now, just a few weeks later, that doting do-gooder has become a murderous lout fixated on smashing the contraption to a thousand bits. And unlike the excerpt from the above poem, his anger is assuming no grace of any kind and is lasting well beyond a minute — in fact, it’s exhibiting the staying power of a rogue erection during Grade 8 health.
From a certain angle, it’s perfectly reasonable that I’m trying to obliterate my latest gadget. After all, anyone who’s played hockey at any organized level understands that the game is governed by certain unwritten rules, one of which is: if someone wrongs you, you get him back. And anyone who’d observed my recent interactions with this infernal electronic device would no doubt agree that I’ve been wronged in manners that are most heinous, egregious, horrendous, outrageous, loquacious ... okay, I don’t even know what that last one means ... the point is, this thing has done so many “ous” things to me that I’m practically bound by honour and self respect to KILL IT GOOD!
Viewed another way, it’s obvious that this violent pursuit is futile, not because of any of those bleeding heart sayings that you see floating around on bumper stickers and social media posts, such as “there is no life to be found in violence.” No, my attempts at violence are futile because the target of my wrath is safely tucked behind a hockey net and my efforts to blast it to kingdom come will never reach it even if I try 10,000 times!
I arrived at my current state through a series of missteps that began a couple months ago when I realized I’d hit a figurative wall with my shooting practice.
Throughout the summer I’ve worked on my shot every second day, each time firing my 200 pucks while experimenting with subtle technical adjustments in an attempt to produce the hardest shot possible. The problem was that my naked eye couldn’t discern what effect these tweaks were having on my shot speed.
The solution was clear. As soon as I’d assembled some extra money, I placed an online order for a sports radar unit designed to detect and display the speed of sports projectiles like tennis balls, baseballs and hockey pucks. After an arduous two-week wait, my new tool arrived. Dripping with excitement, I proceeded with my first shooting session, setting up the detector behind my shooting pad, pointing directly at my target blanket.
Although this configuration was opposite to the manufacturer’s recommended positioning, I’d been informed that it would work.
It didn’t — at least not well and not consistently. So I tried placing the detector at a 90 degree angle to my shots. This generated more consistent readings but they were artificially low. (I learned this by taking some test shots straight at the detector, being careful not to hit it).
Clearly, the optimum setup was as the manufacturer had specified, with some sort of netting between me and the detector. So I set about finding some netting.
I first tried a chunk of loose sports netting. When that proved to be too light, it occurred to me that I should just get a decent hockey net. I was then shocked to learn that, in the hockey hotbed where I live, there are no stores that carry hockey nets that can withstand shots from a regulation puck. It actually states this in the specifications of the flimsy junk that is available. So my next recourse was the online vendor that has been the source of most of my hockey training gear — hockeyshot.ca. I shelled out $130 (plus $53 for shipping) for a net that appeared to be good and sturdy.
After another arduous wait, the net arrived and I was able to set up a system that worked.
However, by this point my relationship with the radar-majigger had turned pretty sour. The main reason was that, regardless of where the gadget was placed, it couldn’t consistently detect shots unless they were within a narrow channel no more than a foot or two away from the unit. While I’d initially been forgiving of this foible, my tolerance quickly dissipated.
As I spent more time with the high strung box, I learned that shot placement is not the only thing it’s fussy about. It’s also prone to inexplicable lapses in concentration during which it will miss three or four shots in a row regardless of their location. But that’s not the worst of it. I also noticed a particularly puzzling wrinkle that has proven to be the most frustrating of all.
Every once in a while, like once or twice a shooting session, powers that are within me but not completely within my control come together to produce a shot that feels much harder than my normal output. When this happens I look to the digital readout with extra anticipation, hoping for confirmation of what I felt. However, without fail, the unit has always stubbornly refused to produce a reading in these situations, regardless of whether the shot was high, wide or right down the middle.
This is when I lose it and instantly start bump firing hockey pucks and expletives out the garage door like a skunk-drunk executive blasting a machine gun at a mountain man retreat. Within 12 nanoseconds I’m wobbly with rage, missing only a disheveled, sweat-laden comb-over to complete the picture of a raving, middle-aged lunatic.
So far this approach hasn’t brought success. As my angrily-blasted pucks pile up in the net, the cheeky box sits safely on its perch where, suddenly freed of its inability to detect shot speeds, it gleefully displays a number that is embarrassingly low. Clearly my revenge tactics aren’t inflicting the physical or emotional suffering that I'd intended them to.
I know what I need to do. I must somehow pull myself together and revert to the other hockey revenge option: taking a number and biding my time.
So that’s what I’m doing. I’ve taken a step back and am keeping my eye on the situation, waiting for the right time to strike. I’m not sure when or even how, but someday when that digital dink least expects it, I shall exact my revenge ... and it shall be sweet.