For the past six years, some friends and I have been lucky to be part of a bus trip to Calgary to watch the Oilers lose. From what we remember, it’s always a blast, and this year we caught the afternoon Oil Kings game too! I decided to (try to) keep a travel log of the experience, to share with the Nation. Enjoy!
8:30 AM: Hungover and sore from beer league the night before. Given the excesses of trips past, I wonder, with sincere apprehension, how we’re going to maintain a 14-hour double header. Eat my Eggos, chug two glasses of iced tea, pull a Gretzky jersey over my crappy Calgary clothes and depart for the bus.
10:00 AM: Liquor pick up. Lots of people grab light beer. Seems hopeful given they still grab 15 — for the bus ride.
10:45 AM: Leaving the motherland, toward enemy territory. Based on cheers, the bus decides on ‘Dazed and Confused’ for the first movie. Brian presses play, and as the intro to ‘Sweet Emotion’ builds over the opening credits, he tells us he has a ‘special movie’ for the ride home. Those of us who know him shudder.
10:55 AM: Sitting in the back, we make bets on when the toilet will first be used. I take the ‘Price is Right’ approach and bet low, 11:15.
11:05 AM: We begin prepping for the trash talk to come. During previous trips, shouting “Five Cups!” would shut down most insults, but that doesn’t have the same sting it used to because, well…Oilers. At this point, we’re thinking we’ll tone it down to “Hey, be nice!”
11:08 AM: Shanny tells a story about a guy whose full legal name is, for real, Cal Gary Flames. Seriously. No fan base is without ridicule, but at least the Montonoilers family had the sense to not name their son Ed.
11:15 AM: The bathroom remains unused, and it’s announced that ‘Price is Right’ rules do not apply. I’m disappointed, but as an Oiler fan, used to it. I’m tempted to hope it’s the worst loss of the day as I crack my third beer.
11:19 AM: Someone mentions ‘Playing with Fire: The Theo Fleury Story,’ the one man play (based on the book) that has an actor skate on a rink in front of the audience. We collectively improvise what we imagine the opening scene to be, if the real Theo were playing himself:
(Theo skates out to centre stage and stops. Smoking a cigarette, he slowly glares out at audience).
THEO: (Points) Hey, you — fancy hat! You think yer better’n me?
RANDOM MAN IN FRONT ROW: (Looks around nervously) I’m, uh — I’m not wearing a hat.
(Theo takes a long drag).
THEO: You know what I mean.
11:22 AM: First Cherry Whiskey of the day!
11:25 AM:No more…mister nice guy! No more…mister clea-ee-ee-heen!
11:27 AM: The seal is broken, one minute before Brown’s bet. Chants of ‘wash your hands!’ emanate throughout the bus. We discuss the virtues of the three point, bus toilet stance. The girls are oddly silent.
11:52 AM: More trash talk prepping. “Just wait, we swear!” or simply, “Too soon!” are discussed.
12:10 PM: Guy in an Oilersnation shirt uses the toilet.
12:16 PM: Guy in an Oilersnation shirt is still in there. We share knowing glances of concern.
12:18 PM: Guy in Oilersnation shirt emerges. Turns out the flush was being finicky.
12:38 PM:Slow riiiide…Take it eeeass-ay!
1:45 PM: We plug our noses as we approach the town of cows, and discuss something that’s been on all our minds: we can’t get on the bus, or to our booze, between games. The quickly-hatched plan is to stash some in a tree outside the rink, potentially sacrificing a couple beers each. The bus stops next to some snowed-over flower pots. Despite our telling footprints around one, we figure it’s as good a place as any. Plus the game’s started by the time we pull up.
2:19 PM: We take our lower bowl seats. Already 2-0 Hitmen.
So much for the “We aren’t losing yet!” chant.
2:25 PM: One of the many little kids chirps to an Oil King player, “Go back to Edmonton!”
McKale: “It’s adorable but it hurts my feelings so I don’t know what to think.”
3:40 PM: Tristan Jarry’s pads are sweet, but they aren’t scoring goals. Still 2-0 at the end of the second. So you’re saying there’s a chance…
3:45 PM: In line for what turns out to be the first of many well-made Caesars (I’m a Caesar snob), across from the Mott’s table where they’re handing out free samples of applesauce. Shanny scarfs six.
3:56 PM: Chicken Dance comes on early in the second period. This my jam!
4:50 PM: Game over. 5-0. Tambellini scored twice.
4:58 PM: We head out to recoup our buried booty…
5:00 PM: No idea where the closest bar is, since someone decides we haven’t suffered enough and need to make the dozen-block walk to James Joyce’s Irish pub. We enter, the Awesome Waitress gives a look like she’s dealt with cold, drunk and sad Oilers fans before, and sits us away from the civilized patronage.
5:22 PM: Another delicious Caesar.
5:35 PM: Dom and Nadi were at the Oil Kings game too, in a luxury suite. Being Oilers fans, they stash a couple pounds of leftover wings and smuggle them into the bar.
5:48 PM: Awesome Waitress sees the wings we made no effort to hide, and rolls her eyes.
“Ok, you guys cannot eat those in here.”
(Awkward pause as Shanny throws more bones into the open cardboard lid).
“Could we get something to dump the bones into before we close it up?”
5:49 PM: Despite our last failed efforts, we discuss hiding the remaining wings near the bus for the ride home.
“At the very worst, we’ll feed a homeless guy!”
6:15 PM: The day is catching up. During a lull in conversation I rest my head against the pile of jackets and check my notes. They’re getting shorter.
7:30 PM: Listening to ‘Under Pressure’ as Dom gives us a ride back to the dome, I put forth “We might not lose!” as an opening chant suggestion.
8:07 PM: Their in-house voice guy really gives ‘er.
8:17 PM: Oilers goal!
8:20 PM: Fights!
8:26 PM: Oilers goal!
9:17 PM: No matter the size of the building, a keyboardist is a sweet stadium thing to have.
McKale: “He’s playing Game of Thrones!”
9:40 PM: End of second and Oilers…have the lead? This is weird, but at least the Flames fans are silent.
10:07 PM: Just wanna say that my pee and beer break timing has been level: expert. Especially with the cramped quarters up top.
Best seat in the house!
10:32 PM: Flames goals. Ah, this is more like it. Now that the section in front of us is piping up, we finally make use of our cowering trash talk rebuttals. Really funny to yell “You be nice!” at people who seem legitimately angry, despite their team winning. Must be the lack of cup(s).
11:15 PM: Head back to the bus without incident, making snide comments at the wall-quotes along the way.
Al MacInnis: “(something something)…I will always look back fondly at playing for the red white and gold.”
“He’s talking about Team Canada, right?”
11:36 PM: Brian puts on an expectedly terrible, and only borderline pornographic movie. No one can watch for more than a minute, so after one last cheers-ing to another successful trip (and Oilers loss), we slowly doze off going in the right direction on the QE2.
12:30 AM: Go Sabres.
I love how we still get together to go on these trips, but it is disheartening that most of us were expecting a loss. Being an Oilers fans is harder now than ever, but after watching last night’s 13-man shootout victory over San Jose I find myself once again wrestling with the idea that our team might actually improve. Or the booze is still in my system from the weekend.
I don’t ask for much, but it sure would be nice to go on a road trip to Calgary when the Oilers actually win. Maybe next time.