You may have heard that Zamboni operators, as a group, are nimble lotharios, keen to anonymous sex. That we are famous for our post-match methamphetamine-fueled orgies. But what if I told you the opposite could be true? That perched atop that sluggish vessel, riding along the unfeeling ice, is a fallible romantic with a warm beating heart?
There glides but a man.
All of the features that make for a good Zamboni operator are the same qualities required to maintain a successful long-term relationship. I spend each night smoothing crags, without ever asking for a thank you. I operate with attentiveness on a slippery surface. I shrug off the circus music that trivializes my art. I’m zen.
But alas, in all of the National Hockey League, it is I who remain alone. Might it be my mouth full of teeth? My scarless face? Sure, I’ve never scored in sudden death, or stopped a puck with my windpipe like that hotshot Trent McCleary, but I have carved ice so pristine that Patrice Bergeron could speed unimpeded past oafish defensemen. Maybe I’ve never used my ice skate to castrate an opponent, but I once nursed an injured baby doe back to health after it was abandoned by its mother on the frozen lake in my backyard. Might a quiet tenderness also be a vaunted quality among female hockey fans?
Perhaps it’s my own fault; I isolate myself from others. You could say I’m married to my art. In the past, options have presented themselves, and why shouldn’t they? I’m well read, and a long standing member of the Local 61 Zamboni and Ladder Operators Union. Should a female woo for my affection between periods, I’ll of course return a playful wink: Moi aussi, je t’aime. Il neige, le decor s’ecroule. And it must end there, because alas, I’m a ramblin’ man of the ice.
I keep circling, pining for someone, anyone, with which to share a deep bond. I imagine us drifting together during commercial breaks, as “Don’t Stop Believin’” blasts from the Jumbotron’s speakers, our hearts swelling from a boundless love. After the game, we’d trudge home together on a balmy evening, to microwave a Stouffer’s dinner and watch Uncle Buck on LaserDisc.
Then I shake my head, returning to a reality where I sit unloved, as a guffawing goon from Boston University pelts me with peanuts. And when the crushed cups line the empty arena, I’ll drive the perimeter one last time, with a naïve hope that I might meet love tomorrow.