Sunday, January 31, 2010
My husband Allen is a lot of things. He’s loving, smart, attentive, trustworthy, well-read, laid-back. He pays attention to the kids’ and my interests. He makes us feel special. It isn’t uncommon for him to come home and exclaim, “Hey (fill in the blank), I have a surprise for you!” That surprise could be ACDC tickets for Jack, the new Patty Griffin or Lucinda Williams or Todd Snider CD for me, or Washington Capitals tickets for Joe.
Every once in awhile, the surprise elevates Allen from awesome dad to wish maker.
That’s what happened yesterday.
Our son Joe is a sports-obsessed eight year-old. Among his favorites is ice hockey. Joe loves the Washington Capitals, especially Alexander Ovechkin. He watches every game, thanks to DVR technology, at least twice. Nearly every day when Joe gets home from school, in a search for his homework in his backpack, I find notes written in thick red marker all capitalized, “Let’s go Caps. Caps Rock! Alex the Gr8!” Joe especially loves what Ovechkin does whenever he scores a goal, which is Joe-pleasingly often. He kisses his hand and sends it up heavenward to his older brother Sergei. “I’m going to do that when I’m a famous baseball player one day,” Joe confided to me. “I’m going to kiss my hand and send it up to Henry.”
Joe really, really, really wants to meet Alex Ovechkin. He goes early to the game in the hopes that he can get a puck from Ovechkin before the game starts. He went to Capitals Convention (a.k.a. heaven for Caps fans) last year and searched everywhere for his hero. Joe keeps a lookout for Ovechkin’s totally awesome car whenever we drive by his house on our way to our friends Bill and Cristina’s house.
On Friday, we went to the Caps game where we witnessed their ninth-straight victory, making it their second longest streak in franchise history. When we got home, Allen said, “Hey Joe, I have a surprise for you! You gotta trust me on this. It’s gonna be great.” Despite a continuous request for more information, Allen refused to divulge the secret.
Cars were skidding across the road into ditches as Allen, Joe and I made our way down Georgetown Pike to Dulles Town Center yesterday as the 6th inch of snow that day fell on and around us. We were undeterred. “Where are we going?” Joe asked. “I don’t know,” Allen and I answered in synch. “I bet it has to do with hockey,” hoped Joe.
We walked into the mall. All around with jersey-wearing fans. Joe’s face broke out into a smile as he spotted Ovechkin’s father who he recognized from all the games. “Dad, let’s go meet him,” said Joe.
Ten minutes later they returned. “We’re friends with him now,” Joe explained. “He touched my muscles and told me to eat and get strong.”
Two complaint-free hours later, Joe shook hands with his hero, just like Henry had with Cal Ripken 10 years earlier.
“That was the best surprise ever,” Joe confirmed as we headed back home to watch Friday night’s game yet again.