Friday, February 17, 2006

Satirical on ice

I'm reluctant to mention this, because I still think I'll somehow jinx myself, but I've talked about it with several people, so I probably already cast that hex. Anyway, I was recently hired by the new editor-in-chief of Motor City Sports Magazine, Greg Eno, to contribute some material, beginning with the March issue, set to hit stands the first Tuesday of the month.

So if you were wondering where I've been the last couple of days, I was chasing down a last-minute assignment to find someone working in any kind of offbeat sports-related job. Fortunately for me, the tremendously kind staff at the University of Michigan's Yost Ice Arena was able to help me out on short notice, and I spent the morning learning all I could about the Zamboni machine and the people who drive them.

I'd really like to thank the facility manager, Craig Wotta, for taking time out of a busy morning to sit down and talk. He passed along useful information on ice maintenance, shared some funny stories about accidents and mechanical breakdowns, and best of all, filled my lil' recorder with plenty of good quotes. Unfortunately, a lot of that stuff probably won't make it into the magazine due to space considerations. And that kills me, because it was a pretty fun time at the hockey rink.

Thankfully, I have a blog.

I should also thank Craig for suggesting that I take a ride on the machine, an idea that honestly never occurred to me while prepping for the story. And that led to what could've been the best part of a longer piece: hitching a ride on the Zamboni with an intern. Oh, if only I could've taken a picture of that young lady's face when she was asked to drive the writer guy around the ice. That was a good look.

But I can't make too much fun of her, because she didn't laugh at me while I clung to the passenger seat with my buttocks as my legs dangled off the edge like a little kid's. (In case you were wondering, my booty has quite a grip.) It took a couple of laps around the ice before I finally relaxed, stopped looking for something to hang onto, and realized I wasn't going to slide off.

And no, I never reached for a lever while asking "Hey, what's this do?" But I did manage to ask the intern what goes through her mind while she's behind the wheel, how long it took her to feel comfortable driving the Zamboni, and if she'd ever run into the boards. Most of the time, however, I was taking in the scenery. I've been to dozens of Michigan hockey games, but never had a view from the ice. I tried to stay as professional as I could, but I was jumping up and down inside. It was really #@$%ing cool. Man, I wish I'd brought a camera.

(Yes, Mis Hooz, I know: I really need a digital camera.)

Would you believe my ice chauffeur thought she did a bad job? Like I would've noticed. I told her it was the best ride on a Zamboni that I ever had. She told me I could never drive with anyone else. And then I took things too far by saying I'd never forget her because she was my first. Oh, I have such a gift with the ladies. It scares them off, but it's still a skill. (Her supervisor said she did really well, by the way.)

A few hours after that, I submitted my piece to the magazine. Hopefully, it turns out nicely. I'll remind you all to look for it in March.

Have a good weekend, gang.