Guaranteed Free Checking

Danielle Deraleau, Staff Writer

     I was bored. Incredibly bored. I was also feeling lazy, and for lack of something better to do, had downed almost an entire box of cookies. While pacing the kitchen and trying to figure out what to do with myself, I became annoyed by the constant banging sound of something bouncing repeatedly off one of the walls of my house. I glanced outside and watched my brother Derrick as he gripped his hockey stick, wound up and took a slapshot at the net, resulting in the banging sound I was hearing.

     It was a Phineas and Ferb moment: “I know what I’m gonna do today!”

     I went outside, and he paused, watching me walk up to him. I was wearing my school clothes; a dress and sweater, feet bare. He was wearing athletic shorts and roller skates. We looked like two completely opposite people, not two close siblings. I said, “Can I play with you?”

     A few minutes later I was up in my room throwing on Nike shorts and a tank top and lacing up tennis shoes. As I bounced down the stairs I drew my hair up in a ponytail with an elastic. My brother blinked at me when I came out as if he didn’t even recognize me: this athletic looking girl who had replaced his barely-strong-enough-to-lift-a-paper-clip sister. I didn’t work out constantly like he did, but I was athletic enough. I used to play basketball, and I enjoy being active and running around. But he had never seen me hold a hockey stick.

     Ironically enough, hockey is a major part of my life. I’m obsessed, constantly following stats and watching games. My brother is even worse. Whenever he’s not watching it, he’s playing it. After over 10 years of experience and a lot of God- given talent, he’s become amazing. All I can do is rattle off statistics, which didn’t do me much good when he handed me a stick from his large collection and told me to take a shot.

     I gripped it in a way that felt like it could possibly be right, took a small windup, and smacked the puck. It skidded into the net, making it, but barely. I smiled triumphantly.

     And my brother laughed.

     “That’s not how you do it,’’ he said.

     He spent the next half hour carefully instructing me on the basics. Teaching me the right way to hold the stick, having me take certain shots again and again, making me do drills and testing me on what I had learned. I have always had a lot of respect for my brother and his dedication to his sport, but at that moment it was particularly high. He knew so much about it he could teach it effortlessly, and in that one lesson and small amount of time I had learned way more than I had expected to pick up.

     Feeling pretty awesome (and a little overconfident) because I had picked up the sport so fast, when he asked me if I wanted to play I said, “Bring it on.’’

     The object of his mini game was simple: take the puck behind the white line on the sport court in our backyard and then take a shot. If it goes in, you get a point. To make it easier on me, being a beginner and all, Derrick’s shots would only count if they nailed the thin red posts holding up the net, a really difficult target to hit.

     It started off well. After a lot of sheer luck and my brother going easy on me the score was 5-1 in my favor.

     “Alright,” Derrick said, resting his stick on his knees. “I’m going to go try-hard now.”

     What ensued next was a lot of checking, elbowing, muttered curses, driving for the puck, cheap shots, desperate attempts and hard core defense.

     But that was just me.

     My brother moved so fast he sometimes had me turning in circles while I chased the puck. My makeup was running down my face, the hot sun was beating down on my back and shoulders, and I got nailed on the ankle or leg with the puck more than once, but I really couldn’t have cared less.

     I was laughing, ponytail swinging as my brother’s and my sticks grappled for the puck. We were shoving and tripping but joking and being ridiculous at the same time. I couldn’t remember the last time I had had that much fun while working out.

     At a score of 12-10, Derrick winning, we paused.

     “Are we going to go to 15 or something?’’ I asked.

     “Sure,’’ Derrick said.

     As we continued to play, I noticed his shots that usually rang off the posts were missing by inches, and he wasn’t being as accurate.

     “What, are you getting intimidated or something?’’ I teased him.

     He shook his head, skating around and stick handling. His back was to me, but I still heard him when he said “I don’t want it to end.’’