The hockey jersey

“You walked home like that?” I asked Marc as he came through the front door carrying a plastic bag emblazoned with the Montreal Canadiens hockey logo on it.

“Yes, it’s embarrassing. I could have been killed,” he replied.

“If you walked around Montreal with a Maple Leafs bag then yes, I would be a widow, not to mention as a Montrealer completely mortified, but a Canadiens bag? In Toronto? Please. So, what’s in it?”

Marc pulled out a child-size Canadiens hockey jersey.

“Oh, that’s great! Alexandre’s been missing the one my brother bought him since it’s become too small,” I said overjoyed.

“But wait, that’s not all.” Marc turned the shirt around. Across the back in big white letters was Alexandre’s last name.

“Awesome!” I cried.

“Ech,” Marc said.

Marc had told one of his work colleagues who lives in Montreal about how his son was “corrupted” into believing the Canadiens are the best hockey team by his grandparents and uncle (my parents and brother), who also live in Montreal. His colleague thought that was hysterical. So when he recently came to Toronto on business, he brought this wonderful gift to tease Marc. (Such an easy target!)

Sure, I’ve read The Hockey Sweater about Maurice Richard so many times to the kids that he’s the only player Alexandre knows, dead or alive. Sure my grandmother bought Alexandre home and away Canadiens socks when he was one. Sure, she tried to make it up to Marc by buying Alexandre Toronto Maple Leafs pyjamas (which I promptly gave to my Toronto-born and -bred friend’s son). Sure my mom bought Alexandre a pair of Canadiens winter gloves this year. Sure, when my parents are here they always watch the Canadiens hockey game on TV with the kids snuggled by their sides. Sure, Alexandre is under some strange belief that he was born in Montreal.

But you know, Marc doesn’t actually like hockey. I’m actually not all that crazy about hockey, either. But when you marry a Montrealer who’s family loves hockey, well, you have to deal with the consequences.

Teasing being one of those consequences. When my parents were visiting and Alexandre was banned from watching television, my dad kindly asked Marc if it would be okay if he watched the game with them. Marc agreed. When Marc and I got home from our date night, my dad turned to Marc and said, “I just want you to know, Alexandre was still punished. We couldn’t find a Canadiens game so Alexandre was forced to watch the Maple Leafs.” My dad smiled, I cracked up and Marc rolled his eyes.

When Marc presented Alexandre with the hockey jersey, he put it on instantly. And wore it for three consecutive days. When he wore it to school, he said all the kids from Montreal loved it. Considering he goes to a French school where I’m sure half the parents are from Quebec, he must have been complimented all day long.

Marc’s a good dad. And a good sport. But I do wonder how he’ll feel when I present the kids with the Expos baseball hats I’ve been saving for them.

First published on MySweetbaby March 3, 2011.

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