“I can’t believe all four of the top teams in the NHL have been eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.”
Andrew Jackson put down the newspaper he was reading and picked up his coffee cup. Rose did not look up from the section of the paper she was reading.
“Sometimes I wish I had a switch,” she said, “so that when you talk to me about sports I could flick the switch and become a guy friend who could say something knowledgeable or understand what you’re talking about, or care.”
Andrew pondered that for a moment. “Tell you what,” he said. “Since you don’t have a switch like that, why don’t you just pretend to care.”
“That sounds hard,” said Rose. “It seems like it would take energy.”
“Not much though,” said Andrew. “Maybe a little.”
“I would rather have a switch,” said Rose.
“Well, it doesn’t really matter,” said Andrew. “It’s not like I need you to care or even listen. It’s just like when you talk to me about… ”
“Talk to you about what?” said Rose.
“I don’t know,” said Andrew. “I don’t know what you talk to me about when I’m not listening.”
“The Royal Family,” said Rose.
“You talk to me about the Royal Family?” said Andrew, surprised.
“All the time,” said Rose.
“Huh,” said Andrew. “Live and learn I guess.” He paused to take a sip of coffee. “I do remember in 2001 and you told me that Prince Charles fell off his horse during a polo match and got knocked out cold and got taken to the hospital in an ambulance. I don’t remember who won the polo match though.”
“I never told you who won the polo match,” said Rose, “so how would you remember that? The point of that story, which I also vaguely remember, was not the polo match. The point was Prince Charles getting knocked out. But you only remember it because there was also a sporting event involved, and that’s what you’re interested in.”
“To be fair,” said Andrew, “I’m also interested in Prince Charles getting knocked out. If you have any other stories about that, I’d listen.” He stopped and tilted his head sideways, thinking. “What I need to do when I talk to you about sports,” he said, “is to make some kind of connection to the Royal Family. That would interest you and get your attention. And when you talk to me about the Royal Family you need to make some kind of connection to sports. Attention problem solved.”
“That sounds logical,” said Rose, “but how on earth would you make a connection between hockey and the Royal Family?”
Andrew thought about that for a second. “Like this,” he said. “I would say I can’t believe all four top teams in the NHL, including the first-place team in the Eastern Conference, which used to be known as the Prince of Wales Conference, were eliminated from the playoffs… ”
“There used to be a Prince of Wales Conference in the NHL?” Rose interrupted. “How did I not know that?”
“I have no idea,” said Andrew. “I thought EVERYBODY knew about the Wales Conference and the Prince of Wales trophy.”
“Oh, that explains it,” said Rose. “I thought it was called the Whales Conference, not the Wales Conference… ”
“It IS called the Wales Conference,” said Andrew.
“I know,” said Rose. “But I thought you said Whales Conference.”
“I did say Wales Conference,” said Andrew. “I’m confused. I said Wales Conference and you heard Wales Conference and then you say, ‘oh I thought it was Wales Conference,’ which makes no sense.”
“I thought it was Whales Conference, with an h in it,” Rose explained. “But you meant Wales Conference without the h.”
“There’s no place to put an h in Conference,” said Andrew, now even more confused. “Chonference isn’t even a word.”
“Not an h in Conference,” said Rose. “An h in Wales. As in, not Wales, home of the Welsh and Anthony Hopkins, but whales with an h as in, large mammals living in the ocean.”
There was another pause as Andrew pondered this. “This is the most interesting conversation I have ever had about hockey,” he said.
“Same here,” said Rose. “In fact, this is the ONLY interesting conversation I’ve ever had about hockey.”
“I wonder who will win the Prince of Wales trophy this year?” said Andrew.
“I wonder if you asked the Prince of Wales who he thought would win the Prince of Wales trophy this year, if he would even know what you were talking about,” said Rose.
“Probably not,” said Andrew. “He’d probably say ‘whaaaat?’ and fall off his horse.”
“And that would be the most interesting thing to happen in the NHL all season,” said Rose.
Andrew picked up his paper. “I can’t argue with you there,” he said.