Oh the games (retired) people play (watch), now, every night and every day, now, instead of doing something constructive and meaningful with their lives, now.
Warning: to all you Canucks' fans, assuming you can read, you won't want to proceed, just go straight to the sports pages or use this paper to line Canuck the Cockatiel's cage, because I am about to talk about the Roaring Game.
It is the time of year when the men and women compete for the Canadian curling championship in the Tim Horton's Brier and the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, respectively. The winners go on to the world championships, which we often win, although you'd never know it because curling doesn't get the coverage that hockey gets in the print and broadcast media.
It's the women who are playing all this week, and let me ask you, where else could you go to see physically fit women vigorously wielding a broom and yelling, "Hurry hard," unless you were at a pornographic housemaids' convention? We are watching the game, of course, and not the women, much as we bought Playboy for the articles and not the centerfold.
Curling, because of the strategy involved, is referred to as "chess on ice." It was brought to this country by immigrants from Scotland and Britain, and played outdoors originally using river stones and household-style corn brooms.
The first curling club was established in Montreal in 1807, sometime before the first organized hockey game in the same city in 1875.
Curling is not only cerebral, it is also kinder and gentler than its coarse and ill-mannered cousin, hockey, or "concussion on ice," as it's now known.
Curlers shake hands before and after each game, and traditionally, the winners buy the losers a drink, and then vice-versa and so on until they forget who won. Good sportsmanship prevails in curling, and you will see no blood spilled unless someone falls and cracks his head open. And I've never witnessed a fight. There is also a dearth of angry parents in the crowd screaming at the coach to put their kid in the game.
Hockey has its history, the first mention of it being in a list of banned activities back in 14th century England. It derives from a combination of several ball and stick games - hurling, shinty, Bandie ball - from the British Isles, brought over to Canada in the early 19th century and integrated into elements of what the Micmac Indians called lacrosse: specifically, the stick which was often used as a weapon, much as it is today.
Perhaps King Edward had the right idea: we should ban hockey and make curling our national winter sport. Many of the larger bonspiels are played on hockey arena ice, and Tim Horton's, after all, is supporting the game.
I have a nevoid on my venter: After the final draw of the day, I have lately taken to playing Scrabble online, the theory being that mental tasks such as chess or bridge help to stave off the onset of dementia, particularly Alzheimer's disease; and I find, as I'm getting older, that I am forgetting why, for instance, I am standing in front of the fridge with the door open.
I haven't played Scrabble since back in Ontario when my girlfriend of the day and I would play away the winter evenings with a carton of eggnog and a bottle of Kahlua. And here I am, more than 30 years later, taking on all comers when I should be going to bed; and without a time limit, I can spend half an hour pondering my next move in order to get the maximum number of points.
Trouble is, you don't know if you can trust your unseen opponent not to consult the dictionary beforehand, can you? And I'm getting beaten up with words that I can't find in my Oxford Canadian.
I may have to start curling again.