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Passport please, longtime spouse

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New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist hangs his head as the hats fly.

RON CORTES / MTC FILES Enlarge Image

New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist hangs his head as the hats fly.

Here's a tip for all you young people thinking about getting married -- Just when you think you know everything there is to know about your beloved, you'll discover you don't know anything at all.

For instance, one moment there you are, relaxing on the couch in your den, watching the Stanley Cup playoffs with a woman to whom you have been married for more than 30 years, a woman with whom you have raised two reasonably normal children, a woman whose name you shriek at the top of your lungs when you cannot find clean underwear and socks, and then, suddenly, the very next moment you are demanding to see her Canadian passport because it has become apparent she is most likely a foreign spy working to overthrow everything you have ever believed in.

That's how I was feeling the other night watching the Montreal Canadiens take on the New York Rangers in Game 5 of their hard-fought Eastern Conference Final series. If you are a hockey fan, you will recall this game, because Canadiens forward Rene Bourque potted three amazing goals to register his first playoff hat trick.

After Bourque's third goal -- and you already know this, because, like me, along with being a hockey fan, you are a patriotic Canadian -- the delighted fans in the stands in Montreal flung their hats onto the ice to celebrate the accomplishment, just as right-minded fans have been doing for as long as any of us can remember.

Before play could continue, the ice crew had to come out and sweep up all the hats, which is when my wife, She Who Must Not Be Named, marched into the den and plopped down on the couch behind me.

She stared at the TV for a few moments and then, a puzzled expression on her face, said: "What's that?"

"What's what?" I grunted in confusion.

"What are they cleaning off the ice?" she asked, pointing at the action onscreen.

I turned around to frown directly at her. "Hats," I told her. "They're cleaning hats off the ice."

I assumed nothing more needed to be said, but I could not have been more wrong.

"Why are there hats on the ice?" is what my wife wanted to know.

I rolled my eyes in bewilderment. "Because Rene Bourque scored three goals," I said, testily.

"Uh-huh," my wife said.

"That's called a hat trick," I continued sternly. "When you get three goals in a single hockey game, they call it a hat trick. But you already knew that, right?"

Which is when my wife gave me the Look, a withering facial expression veteran married guys of my gender are all too familiar with.

"Of course, I do," she sniffed. "But what are all those hats doing on the ice?"

You probably think I am making this up for comical effect, but, tragically, this is an accurate transcript of the way our revealing conversation unfolded.

"When someone scores three goals, fans throw their hats on the ice. It doesn't get more Canadian," I said in the sort of haughty tone you would use if you were explaining the rules governing icing the puck to a shrub.

"Oh!" my wife finally replied.

"Oh?" I said, trying to sound indignant. "Really? What kind of a Canadian are you? Have you ever been to a Tim Hortons before? Do you know who Mr. Dressup was? How many beers do you get in a two-four, eh?"

We sat in stony silence -- me watching the hockey game; my spouse, whose citizenship I was suddenly forced to question, busily tapping away on our tablet computer.

After a few moments, the tablet-tapping stopped. "Do you know the first time anyone used the term 'hat trick?' " my wife demanded out of the blue.

I was caught off guard. "Um... " I started to say.

"It was first used in the sport of cricket after H.H. Stephenson took three wickets in three balls for the all-England eleven against the 22 of Hallam at the Hyde Park ground, Sheffield, in 1858," my wife said matter-of-factly.

I furrowed my brow in a futile effort to imply I was personally familiar with the cricketing feats of H.H. Stephenson.

My wife wasn't done. "They took up a collection and bought him a hat with the proceeds. That was the first hat trick."

Which is when I decided to give her my own test of citizenship. "If you were a real Canadian," I scolded, "you'd bring me a nice cold beer."

Unbelievably, this plea fell on deaf ears. "Normally I'd love to," my wife sniffed dismissively as she marched away, "but that wouldn't be cricket."

doug.speirs@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 2, 2014 0

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