Back It up, Baby

Opening Night.

There are things that normal 18 year old girls don’t do that I do. First, normal 18 year olds don’t live with 26 year old NHL stars, at least none that I know of. They certainly don’t dance around in their teeny pyjama shorts calling said NHL star a pussy because they just beat him at Madden football using the Buffalo Bills against his San Francisco 49ers. Second, normal 18 year olds don’t have the money to spend on a brand new car and I had pictures of bright yellow F-150s on my phone that I was just waiting for the right time to buy. And third, most normal girls wouldn’t go running to a guy the minute he accepted their apology, even if they weren’t really sure why they were sorry.

Yet, I still ended up back in the hotel room, lying next to Beau after we made up the adult way, twice. The flowers showed he cared and that I meant something to him. A good deed couldn’t go unrewarded, right? Not that he mentioned it, I guessed he was embarrassed. I didn’t stay either. The mature thing was to go home and make sure James didn’t find out that I stayed at Beau’s, for the sake of the team.

What else don’t normal 18 year old girls do? Well, they most certainly don’t stand in line with 22 guys and try to balance not throwing up all over the back of James Neal’s jersey with a huge grin plastered on their face. They most certainly don’t listen to thousands of people cheering for a team they are a part of and they definitely don’t get to skate in front of those thousands of people and on nationally televised cameras. Yet, here I was.

It was amazing. I knew I wasn’t playing but, God, did it feel like I was. Even though I was bench-warming, I felt a part of a unit. We lose together, we win together and with the kind of energy we had that night, the Flyers didn’t stand a chance.

“Fuck yeah, boys!” Flower yelled as we all stumbled into the dressing room, slapping each other on the back and high fiving each other. I looked over to see Simon Despres hitting the play button on an iPod dock and suddenly, the dressing room was alive with dancing. We had about 20 minutes before media came in. Quickly, I took off my pads and ran across to where Olli Maatta was sitting, taking it all in.

“How was that?” I leaned over so he could hear me. I spoke in his mother tongue, Finnish, because after a night like he must have had, I didn’t expect him to be able to process English. He looked up at me, his eyes gleaming with happiness.

“The best day of my life,” he said back. I grinned at him, wrapping my arms around his neck. Scott, had unfortunately been sent down to Wilkes-Barre for the time being, leaving Olli and I as the only two rookies on the team. Sharing this moment was him made the whole night that much more special.

I raced to get the rest of my gear off, laughing as Beau and James talked over my head. Evgeni every once in awhile would pop into the conversation with a good one-liner that would send James and Beau into a giggle fit. It was good to be a part of this.

“Lily,” Evgeni called over to me. I looked at him from the towel I was wiping my face on. “You okay for me to come over tonight? Video games and drinks with Lazy and me?”

“Of course, Geno,” I chuckled. Like I would ever say no to that teddy bear. He suddenly frowned and we all turned to glance at what he was staring at. A tiny hand with a huge diamond ring on it wrote on the board, “SID, GENO, OLLI, LILY AND JAMES.”

“Sorry, babe,” the blonde, petite girl the hand was attached to shrugged before leaning up to kiss Sidney’s lips and dashing out the locker room. Leah was widely known as the head of communications and Sid’s fiancée, only allowed to keep her job as long as she didn’t work directly with Sid.

I frowned. “Why me?” Geno and James burst out laughing.
“Because you don’t have a penis and that’s exciting,” James explained, smirking. I rolled my eyes but, then looked over at Beau who shrugged.

“It’s exciting to me,” he muttered so only I could hear. I smacked his leg and leaned back against the wall, laughing. While I stared at the double doors, waiting for media to burst in, I noticed someone staring at me out of the corner of my eye. I turned and Brandon looked away, a pissed off look on his face.

What did he have to be pissed off about anyway? I wondered. His goal had contributed to the win over the Flyers. He should be just as ecstatic was everyone else. My train of thought was cut off when the dressing room doors flew open and mobs of media swarmed in. It was my first media scrum, I had done a couple before but, this one was my first big time NHL scrum and I wasn’t even expecting it.

“Lily, what’s it like being on the team?”

“Amazing, everything I had hoped it would be,” I paused. “Well, except I hoped to be playing.” Reporters laughed.

“Lily, do the guys treat you differently?”

I shook my head, “no. They treat me like a teammate, respect first and foremost. They are an amazing group of guys and have welcomed me in just like they would anyone else.”

“Is the organization helpful?”

“In means of me being a girl?” I said, a little shocked by the question. “Are you asking me if they are helping me with me being a girl as if it’s a problem? No, they are not helpful for my ‘problem’ because it’s not a problem to me or the organization.” I snapped. “They are, however, helpful with anyone who may make me feel uncomfortable or threatened because THEY think that the fact that I have different reproductive organs makes me a problem.”

There was silence for a long time. The press was not expecting that kind of answer and it was possible that I was going to get some backlash for that but, I didn’t care. It was all true. Not having a dick wasn’t a problem, the problem was those who believed it was. I may be a girl but, I was still a better goaltender than about half of the NHL.

Finally, one reporter spoke up, “so, Lily, any budding romances going on?” I rolled my eyes. Fucking typical. Let’s demoralize the female.

“Yeah, Nealer and her are in love and are expecting their first born,” Brandon stood, his arms crossed, behind one of the reporters. They didn’t even turn their cameras to look at him, they just instantly ran to James. It would be great footage for all their news stories, look, haha, the Pittsburgh Penguins made a funny!
I grabbed my stuff and headed for the door, glaring at Brandon as I walked past him. He turned, “what, no thank you?”

“Oh, I’m sorry. I thought I wasn’t grown up enough to be friends with you,” I shot back. I spun around to face him. “I was doing the mature thing and not engaging in any kind of interaction. That’s what you wanted right?”

I didn’t wait for his answer, I walked out the door of the dressing room. It was propped open for media so, I heard when James yelled out to him, “go get her. She has my car keys.”

I nearly ran towards the parking lot after that. No, I didn’t want him coming after me. Wasn’t it enough to humiliate me in front of the media but, now he had to chase me down and rub it in? I managed to get to James’ beamer but, Brandon had caught up.
“Lily, what the fuck?” I looked up at him, tears of anger willing themselves to drop. I bit them back and shook my head. “What my apology wasn’t good enough?”

“What fucking apology, Brandon? The part where you stared me down in the dressing room or where you told the entire fucking world that I’m pregnant with Nealer’s kid?” I yelled at him, careful to make sure no one was eavesdropping.

“I sent you fucking flowers to say I’m sorry, what flowers aren’t good enough for you now? You’re too cool for them?” He yelled back. Instantly, my jaw dropped. Those were from him? Annoyed, he threw up his hands. “I didn’t know how else to say I’m sorry and I figured girls like flowers and roses were all romantic so I picked yellow daisies because, ya know, Penguins and shit. Didn’t you get them?”

I stared at him for a second before realizing it was my turn to speak, “I-I-I-I... the card must have fallen off.”

“Oh,” he leaned against the truck. I looked down at the keys in my hand and bit my lip. What else was there to say? I muttered a quiet, thank you but, he didn’t seem to hear it. He sighed, loud and deep, “Do you want to come over tonight?”

I nodded, pushing my bangs out of my eyes, “yeah, I’ll be there around 11.”