rocketI was going to make fun of Rocket for being the only person on earth who could write a NHL playoff preview in haiku form and still have it check in at more than 1,000 words, but then I wrote the post that will go up after this and it’s 1,500 crazy words on how to fix the NBA draft lottery. Pot, meet kettle. Anyway, here’s the guest post.

Rocket?

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A short while back I found myself sitting in one of those faux-oases nestled between two shopping complexes. To my left stood an old manufacturing building that had been converted into a hippie-fried collection of boutiques that your least practical aunt would describe as "magical," and to my right stood its dullard cousin from the suburbs who thinks of cumin as a rare and exotic spice. I suppose I appreciated the attempt to offer a respite from the only-talk-to-each-other-at-Thanksgiving temples of commerce, but the whole feel of the place was reminiscent of a guy trying too hard to keep his cool around the prettiest girl in school.

Regardless, I was there, sitting on a metal chair fused to a metal table that was mostly covered with a dusting of the sort of natural materials that make me eternally grateful for manufactured antihistamines. I found myself in this oddly cultivated nether region because Rockette needed to buy something frilly or dainty or otherwise personal and I had no desire to impede this purchase with whatever inappropriate action I was otherwise destined to take. A small cadre of other lost souls were also in the vicinity, but we were all satisfied with our unspoken agreement to just leave each other the [redacted] alone. The place was just tolerable enough as it was, and no one was going to ruin it by talking or getting to know each other.

And then HE showed up. In one respect, he was no different from every other middle aged schlub in the world. His canvas shoes could not contain the white socks that reached halfway up his calves. There is no place on this earth where one can spend a double-digit dollar figure on his anonymous gray shorts. And his garish, mostly blue, oddly patterned shirt is exactly the type of garment that seems to appeal to those who, frankly, ought not be drawing that much attention to their corpulence. The spindly legs belied someone who may have been an athlete – perhaps even something of a catch back in the day – but they had long ago been forced to endure the bulbous nature of the upper half of his frame and were worse for the wear.

Again, he seemed no different than so many others like him: just another guy in his fifties who had long since seen the best days come and go, destined to be just another seamless face in the crowd. And yet, within a shorter span of time than it will take you to read this whole soliloquy, he became life's latest reminder that everyone has a story.

It all began with him gliding into the oasis on his bicycle. This, in itself, was odd enough as he gave the impression of a man who rode not for the exercise, thrill of the sport, or the wind in his hair, but because it was his most legal form of transportation after the last court hearing. Yet, the surprises hardly ended there; he had rigged a speaker and a personal CD player to the back of the bicycle and he was pumping out the tunes. At first, it was exceptionally annoying as the tinny, single speaker completely destroyed the quiet, unspoken agreement I had made with the other patrons of the space to shut up and not bother each other.

Yes, annoying. At first. But then I started listening to the song and watching the guy. He had clearly already been drinking the tall can that he fished out of the Hogwartian satchel he had strapped to the back of this bike. I assumed it was alcohol at first, but I kept looking at the can and I couldn't shake the feeling that it was only an Arnold Palmer. I was probably wrong, since the can looked more like this, but the whole scene just makes more of a twisted kind of sense if one imagines that he was only drinking iced tea and lemonade. Regardless, he kept taking long pulls off of the can and staring deep into the nothingness of middle distance. Then the song really caught my ear. I'm sure that I had never heard it before, but it is such a quintessentially eighties song that once you hear it you never forget it. For those unwilling to click the link the song is called "Hold On To 18," by a band called Black N' Blue, who look exactly like you would expect them to look. The lyric that really got me was, "I don't care about society, I don't care about responsibility…" Here stood this middle aged man, so far from his prime that the memories of back then had to have been sepia-toned, listening to a 30-year-old song imploring him to hold onto an age that he may have already experienced three times over.

Finally, I understood. Sitting there, in the "oasis," I had felt a sense of unease in a place that wasn't quite right and in which I did not comfortably fit. But whatever I was enduring in that moment was but a leaky bucket compared to the ocean that engulfed this man. I was a bit uncomfortable; he was a man out of his time, his place, his car, and everything else that he had once known. If there were still any corners of the world where he could live the life he wanted they were few and far between, and this oasis certainly was not one of them.

It felt like he stood there forever, but in truth he didn't even stick around for the whole song. After finishing the tall can he jumped back on the bike and rode off in search of the next spot were he might feel just a little less out of place.

The moral of the story? I have no idea what is going to happen in the NHL playoffs, but I am going to make predictions in haiku form anyway.

Montreal v. Ottawa

It's French Canada

Versus the seat of the feds

Secessionists win

Tampa Bay v. Detroit

Do you fear Detroit?

Stamkos and the crew will win

The Yzerman Cup

New York Rangers v. Pittsburgh

Even Sid the Kid

Cannot escape the allure

Of Hank's dreamy eyes

Washington v. New York Islanders

Many great games played

In Nassau Coliseum

Too bad it ends here

Anaheim v. Winnipeg

A playoff return!

Winnipeg will go crazy!

Enjoy those four games

Vancouver v. Calgary

Lanny McDonald

And his glorious moustache

Will not be enough

Nashville v. Chicago

Nashville seems all right

But Chicago is better

The city and team

St. Louis v. Minnesota

A St. Loo upset?

Yes! They will be gone early

Just not in this round

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