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Friday, December 28, 2001

Icing? That's ain't right!

"That guy is a sissy! Give me a pair of skates! Ref! How much they pay you, Ref? Sixty-two! Come up here and say that 62!"

It was Thirsty Thursday at the BI-LO Center. Until 7:45, beers were a buck. The Grrrowl (Greenville's East Coast Hockey League team) was playing a team from Columbus and we had free tickets, courtesy of our new PR hack from the hospital (AKA, our buddy T).

It was a tight game all the way. Back and forth. Probably the most enjoyable Grrrowl game I've seen.

Then there were the people with pink-ish (okay, they were red) necks who sat behind us.

"Ref! Ref! Oh, that just ain't right! He's a sissy! This is your fault, Ref! This is your faaaaaault!"

They must have brought the whole family. Dad (probably in his 60's) was decked out in the Grrrowl jersey. Momma was listening to the game on the radio. The kids (adults) were loud.

"Hit him with the puck! If he can't take it, hit him with the puuuuuuuck!."

At some point in this family's history, they must have decided hockey was their game.

Greenville is situated in a part of the country that doesn't allow for much professional sports worship. If you want a pro team, you have to look to Atlanta or Charlotte. Most folks around here follow college football and that's about it.

This family needed something more. They needed a minor league hockey team. And they needed that Ref to be six feet under the ice.

"Ref! LOOK at me Ref!"

I shouldn't poke fun. When I was in college, I spent five years as a part of a group called the Antlers. It is a 20-some year-old organization founded with the main intention of getting under the opposing team's skin (or the Ref's skin). The school gave us great seats and we were obnoxious. We had chants like "The Ref beats his wife." We'd wait outside the locker room for the Arkansas Razorbacks with two skinned hogs heads...one of them on fire. We delivered pizzas covered in muck to the opposing team's hotel room. We'd research the players and find out their girlfriend's names...sometime their phone numbers...and chant them during the game. We got under one player's skin so bad, he came into the stands after us. I once spent ten seconds on national television wiggling my tongue like an aging porn star. My aunt in Texas saw it and thought I'd lost my damned mind.

So, I shouldn't poke fun.

Redneck Hockey Family couldn't get enough of those goons on the ice...and I have to admit...there was one point in the game I wanted to teach them the old..."The Ref beats His Wife" chant.

Somehow, I think, the chant would've been lost on these folks.

"Whatta mean the Ref beats his wife? Was she mouthin' off again or something?"

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