Hockey Skates and a Not-So-Lucky Cat

There are moments in marriage when you look at your significant other and remember why you got hitched in the first place. Of course, there are also moments when you wonder, “Who is this person, and why on earth did he just do that?” The best moments are a bit of both: His actions take you by surprise but in a way that makes you see him as you once did.

I never thought I’d find my husband of 16 years more attractive in a pair of hockey skates, but it happened two Sundays ago in Chicago.

School was about to resume after a two-week break, and everyone in our family was dreading Monday’s arrival. A friend suggested dim sum in Chinatown, and it sounded like the perfect beginning of a winter-break last hurrah. It was. We spent an hour at Phoenix Restaurant stuffing our faces with mostly unidentifiable but delicious steamed and deep-fried dumplings. Dim sum, like marriage, requires a leap of faith.

As we sipped our tea and patted our bellies full of heaven knew what, we decided the next leg of our journey would be shopping in Chinatown, followed by ice skating at Millennium Park. My 13-year-old wasn’t interested in shopping or skating, but I promised him an overpriced hot chocolate at the Park Grill and he kindly acquiesced. My 11-year-old wanted some panda paraphernalia for her collection, and I was dying to find a “lucky cat” (a.k.a. maneki-neko) to add to my tchotchke trove. Five (more like 10) stores later, our daughter scored a panda coffee mug, and I settled on a bright-eyed mama cat with a full litter of kittens, figuring all the babies made her extra lucky. With our dining and shopping needs satiated, we headed to the rink.

My not-so-lucky cat

My not-so-lucky cat

My new cat may have been cute and fertile, but she didn’t seem to have much going on in the luck department. We spent at least 30 minutes trying to find parking, and when we finally arrived at Millennium Park, the wait for renting skates was an hour. My daughter brought her own skates, which meant she could hit the ice immediately. But what fun would it be to skate alone? When my husband saw the dejected look on her face, he donned his super hero cape and hatched a solution. All we had to do, he said, was hop a cab across town to the nearest Sports Authority and buy him a pair of skates. It was an impetuous, overindulgent and completely out-of-character move, and it thrilled both my daughter and me.

Thirty minutes, two cab rides and about $65 later, Super Dad was slipping and sliding across the ice in a brand-new pair of hockey skates. I enjoyed the warmth and libations of the Park Grill with my son, both of us laughing as we watched our super hero try to keep up with our figure skater in training. The man had no clue how to skate, but he knew how to make his daughter happy.

I’m not banking on my not-so-lucky Chinatown cat winning me any lottery jackpots, but she makes me smile every time I look at her on my living room bookshelf. She reminds me of a day when I remembered why I love my husband so much. And so do those hockey skates in the garage.

Super Dad and the figure skater

Super Dad and the figure skater


P.S. Thank you so much for all the supportive comments on my post about quitting smoking. I’ve been smoke-free for 21 days now, and I feel great. It truly helps to know you guys have my back.