The hockey bag

As a proud Canadian there are two things I realize I am not allowed to complain about: the cold weather and the start of another hockey season. Fine. I will thus complain about the long-ignored request for a mudroom and the stench of the hockey equipment bag that belongs in its own well-ventilated space.

I don’t think I’m asking too much here, but you know what they say about the shoemaker’s children never having shoes? Well, the Carpenter’s wife never has a completed home renovation and thus, the pre-teen son has already begun this hockey season by dumping his odorous hockey bag right in the foyer of our living room, that sacred space in the home where we gather to relax around the boob-tube and ignore one another.

The odour of hockey equipment can only be likened to that of dirty sneakers soaked in stagnant swamp water, wrapped in game-winning gym socks and sprinkled with a light spray of pre-pubescent sweat, then stuffed in the trunk of a black car during the hottest week in summer. If I turned this into a home scent refresher I’d call it Zombie Flesh Wound.

After the first week of hockey gear being left haphazardly in the corner, the Carpenter and his junior replica seemed quite content to ignore the big black lump of gross, distracted by televised games of hockey, football, golf and those weird science shows they can waste hours on, despite sitting just feet away from the epicentre of horrific smells. It didn’t bother them in the least if folks popped in for a visit either, despite knowing our guests were being met with the wall of stench. Apparently, the boys rationalized that if people didn’t like it, they shouldn’t show up.

As we entered week three of house league hockey, there was no disputing the obvious, though the boys in the house were in deep denial. Sometimes I would wander through the house asking, “Do you guys smell garbage? Maybe the cat dropped a dead mouse in here. What is that smell?” Sure enough, in the rays of daylight, I could see the fumes emanating from the hockey bag that sat there, all quiet and suspicious like, fermenting. Gross. The Carpenter’s solution: stuff the hockey bag in the unfinished bathroom (read: year three) and shut the door.

Now, when I stumble in for my 3am bathroom visit (another perk of being female – not sleeping through the night), I routinely trip over the black bag. Sometimes I find the dog sniffing around the bag, curious but cautious. Even Scout thinks something has died in there. She doesn’t know if she should pee on it or bury it, but walks away, too horrified to do either.

While other homes smell of fresh flowers or artificial scents of lavender and fresh linen, I walk into Zombie Flesh Wound and pray the cold weather kills off the flies that gather around it. Nobody can ever say I’m not a team player. I accept that hockey will be the excuse for another year of uncompleted household projects and will eventually come to terms with the big black elephant in the room that smells like – well, like a big elephant is actually in the room.

That’s what hockey moms do; “take one for the team.” Ugh.


Kelly Waterhouse