Many of you didn't know that I am bilingual. And you don't know this because it's an ugly lie. Well, it's a lie unless they have declared Profanity an official language, in which case, English is actually my second language.
However, I did "study" French for four years in high school and two years in college, which means I have a French vocabulary of almost as many words as my 18-month-old has in her native English. I also know a few phrases in Italian (spelling doesn't count here):
Dove il gabbinetto? (Where is the bathroom?)
Pianta-la! (Quit it!)
Ecco! Basta! (That's enough! Stop!)
Cosa Fai? (What in the name of all that is good are you doing?!)
Perhaps from this sampling of phrases, you can tell that my primary job while in Italy was babysitting.
So why am I telling you about my language skills? Well, because of HOCKEY of course! Tonight, Chris and I went to the Hurricanes/Leafs game. Saint Mother-In-Law offered to babysit so that Chris and I could enjoy a quiet dinner and then actually watch the whole game. It was really quite glorious. And the game was exciting... we won 4-3 in a shootout. Very fun. If you are interested in the boring details of the game, I'm sure Chris will post something on his blog. However, I am going to fill you in on the more interesting aspect of the game... the players.
Perhaps you have heard that hockey is a Canadian game. And, despite the NHL's best efforts, it still is, really, a Canadian game. The captain of the Hurricanes is Rod Brind'Amour, and he is from Ottawa. He is quite good at what he does and he has been out of the line-up recently because of a groin injury. Actually, there has been a rash of groin injuries on the team lately, which had a local radio station asking if there were some particularly energetic groupies out there causing the problem. Personally, I have a nomination -- we call her Dorothy, Mistress of the Night. She comes to each game in the opposing team's jersey, pigtails, a short skirt, and knee socks... the whole school-girl gig. Chris used to know her website, but we can't seem to find it now, although you couldn't have opened the link in any public place anyway. She had some "work done" which she is quite pleased with, and she shows it off on her site. But I digress...
A few years ago, when I was just getting familiar with who played for which team, I noticed that many players' surnames were French-ish. What I mean by that is that they were French in origin, but not like any French surnames I had seen before. This is, I imagine, because of the French-Canadian language, which anyone in any French-speaking country outside of Canada will tell you, is a bizarre bastardization of French. (This is not my opinion, necessarily... I'm just telling you what I have been told. Although Celine Dion does present a strong case against the French-Canadians). So I began trying to translate some of these names.
Many are rather innocuous. One of my personal favorites is Simon Gagne. His last name litteraly means "Winner." Now THAT is a good hockey name. Some I can't translate, like Jean-Sebastian Giguere or Patrice Brisebois (although the latter makes me think of a container you put the remnants of a Jewish birth celebration into... ick). But one that just made me laugh out loud was Jean-Luc Grand-Pierre. His last name literally means "Big Peter." Now, personally, I think he, or someone in his family, made that name up. But really, anyone whose jersey actually declares that he is well-hung is just classic in my book.
So now we get to Rod Brind'Amour. I knew the last part of his name meant "of love," so it seemed romantic to me, and I left it alone. Rod is built like the proverbial brick shithouse. This man has been working out since he was in the womb, and I really don't believe there is an ounce of fat on his body. His face could stop a truck (and probably got that way from stopping a few too many pucks), but the rest of him is really a sight to behold. His effect on our team is certainly noticable (his return to the ice tonight helped the team break a three-game losing streak). Having said all that, I am about to laugh at him...
My friend Sophie is, as you know from previous posts, Belgian. This means that she speaks French pretty fluently... almost like it's her native language or something. So one day a few years ago, Sophie came to a hockey game with her husband, and they sat next to us. The game started, and suddenly, Sophie started laughing and said "Twig of Love?!" When I looked at her with eyebrows raised, she pointed at good old number 17 and said "Brind'Amour" means "Twig of Love."
So in the same league where there is a "Big Peter," there is also a "Twig of Love." And Brindy has better stats than Mr. Big-Stuff. People say there is no justice in the world. Pshaw...
So for those of you who think hockey is boring... just bring your French dictionary to the game with you. I imagine that will give you plenty of hours of by-yourself enjoyment.