Mike likes to shop. No, he really likes to shop. Like,
if you thought Brodeur was a clotheshorse, or if you thought your wife liked
to shop, then you'd obviously never met Mike. Bastard always makes fun of my
clothes, but at least I don't spend all day in front of a mirror, and I wear
a lot of ugly things, but I'd never wear a fucking purple turtleneck. Let
alone be photographed wearing it.
He loves clothes, and he loves trying them on. It's fucking boring as hell,
and yet, he'll spend forever doing it. He doesn't so much anymore, but after
that summer... Trying on clothes all the fucking time. I mean, he could
afford it with that contract of his, but I could also buy three thousand
weevils, but you don't see me doing that. There was just something about
trying on something new, slipping into a different persona, that he liked.
Because he'd try on mother fucking anything. Purple turtleneck, case in
point. That was sorta cool; the way he'd try most anything on, and wouldn't
just reel back in disgust (like I would have--I mean, mother fucking
turtleneck?) or judge something without trying it first, but still...
Sometimes you just have to say no. You've got to know your limits. But Mike
always had trouble with that, especially after that summer. He knows himself
well. I mean, I know myself well, but how well does anyone know himself? I
don't mean like you're fucking crazy and you're keeping secrets from
yourself, but I fought hard not to be my father's son. I wanted to be ME,
desperately. I did a lot of things for the sole purpose of not being my
father's son, but that wasn't really me. And it took me a while to find
myself, to become comfortable with myself, and even longer to let myself be
my father's son.
Mike spent a lot of time by himself. He went up to Canada, stayed with a
different family, kept to himself. I know he fucking loves that family;
they're like his own. He visits them, talks to them, likes to see the old
neighborhood. But even if a host family is warm and welcoming, it's still
foreign and not your own. (I don't think I'd ever send my kids away from me.
Even if they wanted to go; I'd force them to stay at home and be miserable.)
And then later, he went first, and he went to Minnesota. Next hot shot, and
I'm sure that ostracized him. Veterans recognize a hot shot; they know he's
just a kid, but they also know this kid could usurp their place. It's a
strange interaction: simultaneously taking a kid under your wing, and also
keeping him as far away and as uncomfortable as possible.
I'm sure Mike didn't do anything stupid. Never heralded himself as the next
big thing. Never pissed off any of the vets. In fact, I bet they fucking
loved him. Mike loves to listen. He loves to learn, to observe. Respectful
little fucking kid who always does his homework. Probably had those vets
preening. The thing is, if you're always listening, always observing, you
aren't interacting. So he probably spent a lot of those first few years by
I figured out who I was because I constantly had people challenging me. I was
stubborn as fuck and had to prove them wrong. I was loud about becoming the
person that I was, that I am. I always had to do the opposite of what was
expected of me. Show up to training camp in shape? Fuck no, twelve pounds
overweight. Dress up for a fancy occasion? Cowboy boots. And when people expected
me to do something outlandish, I'd stun them by doing the correct, proper
Mike's averse to confrontation. Quiet, intense listener who grew up, mostly
by himself, learning from example. That's a bit of a task. To watch others,
and choose the bits and pieces that you like, that you'd like to be. He's
learned from fucking everyone he's met. Taken pieces of them. You've got to
be awfully mature to do a thing like that. To grow up miles away from your
parents and all that you know. To have the ability, the possibility, the
fucking opportunity to fuck everything up, and yet not. To have the
foresight not to ruin everything.
I would have, probably. I needed guidance. I needed somebody to yell at me. I
needed people to drag me to practice. Trick me into trying out for a team.
I'm grateful for those people in my life, because they've allowed me the life
I lead now. One that I wouldn't trade for anything, I'm that fucking happy.
But that's because people knew I was a fuck up. People knew I'd goof around
all day if they didn't keep me in line. Mike wasn't. His surrogate mom at
Prince Albert didn't need to scold him, hold his hand, remind him to wash up
before supper. So she didn't. I had limits set for me, and I was always
pushing them. Constantly. But Mike didn't. He could do whatever, and it was
up to him to know when to stop.
Which is maybe why he's still testing the waters, testing himself, seeing how
far he can push himself. Trying to figure out who he is. Trying on clothes
until he finds something that he likes, and not stopping (dedicated mother
fucker) until he does.
That's what I'd like to think anyway. Because nobody likes to think about
their best friend being so fucking lost he'd try on a purple fucking
turtleneck for comfort.