Today is my baby brother Gomez' birthday. Some baby, he's built like a house... one of the best Gomez stories is the tale of how, after high school hockey practice at the storied Murray's Skating Rink, he was approached by a member of the Yonkers Fire Department and asked, "Hey, man, our goalie wasn't feeling well, do you want to tend goal for us?"
Gomez replied, "Uh, I have to ask my mom if it's okay."
"Your mom? What's up with that?"
"I'm only fourteen."
Of course, Mom approved of his playing in a YFD/YPD hockey game, ice time being ice time, and freebies being rare. Gomez at fourteen held his own in a game with a bunch of grownups. In the succeeding decades, he's never lost his love for the sport, and besides playing in an adult league, he also coaches for his kids' teams and referees local games.
I wished Gomez a happy birthday this morning, and we commiserated about the pandemic protocols being a drag. Hockey is one of those sports which can be practiced while maintaining some social distancing, and his birthday plan was to run a hockey clinic for little kids with an assist from his own kids, and possibly grab some chicken wings for dinner on the way home... a simple, but classic way to celebrate an occasion. Myself? I'm really jonesing a draft beer, consumed at the bar, when this thing has finally been beat, some chicken wings would also be welcome.
It's his second birthday in the pandemic times, but he's spending it well, doing something that he loves, with people he loves, and imparting his love of hockey to other youngsters. Sure, I call him baby brother, but he's got this whole adulthood thing figured out better than most people.