I’m sitting in the last row of the Beverly Community Centre arena, beneath a long heater hung from the ceiling, at present producing no heat. This means of course that I’m in Beverly; except, as far as I know, no such place exists.
I think I’m actually in Rockton, which for most of you means I’ve now named two places you’ve never heard of. I know that Rockton exists because I’ve been there several times to attend their “World’s Fair” (why it’s called a World’s Fair I will never know, but I see no benefit in challenging their reach) and I know that the arena in which I now sit, getting colder by the second, is no more than a minute down the road from the fairgrounds which annually hold court to, ahem, the world.
I suppose it’s possible that there is a place called Beverly, but I just can’t imagine two places as small as Rockton and Beverly existing so close together. What purpose would that serve? Technically, if I am to believe the highway signs, I am in neither Rockton nor Beverly, but within the limits of the fine City of Hamilton. I am inclined however to discount this claim as I have noticed, as perhaps you have as well, if you are on the right roads, you can find a sign indicating that you have entered the City of Hamilton anywhere from Windsor to Parry Sound, making Hamilton a land mass roughly the size of Belgium.
Searching for clues to where I am, I look around the arena, my eyeballs slow to move in their now frozen sockets. On the far wall I see a large sign: “Home of the Beverly Bandits.” Championship banners cover the wall to the left of the scoreboard, spilling over to the right, where a space has been made for future championships. The opposite end boasts just as many banners, my admiration for this hockey powerhouse, unnamed still, growing with each banner.
In the corner, high on the wall, there’s an old plastic clock, donated by the Lions Club of Rockton. Beside it, a single banner announcing the “Rockton Rotten Shots”, a hockey club established in 1995, by now disbanded or royally unsuccessful, I cannot tell.
Between the penalty boxes, I notice the timekeeper’s booth. The brown, painted, steel support beam that runs up the wall, behind the booth, rises like a pipe from the booth, the two inhabitants seeming to sit inside a plexiglass woodstove. Beside the booth a collision repair facility from Waterdown advertises their services, a second sign for the same business on the boards. “Insist on us!” they implore, causing me to question not just their advertising budget but how many options there might be for body work in this area. The other businesses list Rockton, Hamilton, even Ancaster as their locations. Where the hell am I? My confusion grows.
And then I remember. I’m watching my son play hockey. I’m happy. It doesn’t matter where I am. And I’m cold. Really, really cold.