Sunday, August 12, 2007

Back in the 80's, my father was in the position to provide the Washington Capital's hockey team with some courtesy loaner Volvo sedans. In exchange for this, the team management provided the car dealership with four sets of season tickets, clumped together in a prime seating area.

Meanwhile, dad also became involved with the Big Brothers organization and started mentoring Billy. Several years before, a farmer with a shotgun, angered by a broken windshield on his car, around near where Billy’s brother and some friends had been partying, killed Billy’s biological big brother.

Dad took Billy out in the evenings to quite a few games, helping the situation so that Billy felt like a real hotshot and could bear life again. Occasionally, after winning hockey games, they went down together into the locker room to visit the players. After meeting Rod Langway; the savior of the Washington Capitals, shaking his hand and briefly conversing with him, Billy was in awe. Mr. Langway should know his brief minutes of kindness towards this adoring fan left a lasting impression.

Occasionally, Billy would call dad at the showroom; and if Dave Dando or I happened to be walking by, Dad would quickly hand us the phone after saying to Billy, "Hey Billy, your hero Rod Langway just stopped by here to say hello.” Suddenly saddled with this impromptu test, Dave or I would impersonate Rod Langway in our roughest hockey voice saying, “Thanks Billy for coming to our game last week. I looked up in the stands and saw you there cheering for us" -and things of that nature.

These heroic phone impersonations probably occurred a dozen times. It felt like the right thing to do, enthusiastically perpetuating this hero myth - as Billy certainly needed a boost at the time.

Thinking back on it now, we weren’t steering a myth at all, but reality. Certainly, Mr. Langway would have not minded that we were speaking kind words of encouragement on his behalf to a young troubled boy.

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