He's handsome and thoughtful and has great taste in music, but he's deeply, deeply flawed.
Andrew cheers for the wrong hockey team.
No, I take that back.
The Ottawa Senators are not just the wrong team, but the worst team.
The rivalry between Toronto and Ottawa is legendary. Politely referred to as "the battle of Ontario", fans use much more colourful language in the stands.
But with a twinkle in his eye, he invited me to the game, and despite the fact that I felt fairly confident that it could spell an end to our relationship, I accepted.
He picked me up wearing a StinkySens Volchenkov jersey and hardly batted an eye at my skirt and white leather motorcycle boots (if you doubted for a second that I was the kind of girl who'd wear a skirt to a hockey game, then get the hell out). But when I ditched my coat in the car to reveal my own jersey, he lifted an eyebrow. My blue and white should normally repel his red and black, but instead they brushed together as his hand in the small of my back led me up the steps towards the monstrosity that feels entitled to sell beer at $12 a glass.
The ticket-taker was the first of many skeptics.
Are you two sitting together? she asked.
Apparently, I replied, rolling my eyes.
But otherwise I bit my tongue, which is not normally one of the many things I like to do with my tongue, but in a sea of Sens fans on their home turf, I know when to pick my battles. Plus, I didn't feel like getting jumped.
I wasn't the only Toronto fan in the building, but I was sitting in a section saturated with Senators sweaters (Andrew has season tickets, natch). I expected some ribbing, and I got some. I also got lots of high-fives from the Leafs fans pouring down periodically from the nose-bleeds in pursuit of more beer. One Leafs fan in particular was very vocal in his approval of my jersey. He went so far as to berate Andrew.
Dude, he says, if you're going to sit beside this lovely lady, you should have worn the blue and white.
Or at least, he did the first time.
The second time he got razzed by this guy, he was a little less amused. The first period of the game had been intense, the Sens scoring within the first 4 minutes and the Leafs tying it up just a couple of minutes after that. The boys behind us shouted their anti-Leafs sentiments in their smug french accents while Andrew and I engaged in friendly one-upmanship. If he was on his feet clapping, then I'd be jumping up and down doing my damndest to drown him out. And then we'd make out and ignore the ice completely. It was good.
It was good up until the persistent Leafs fan showered me so strongly with compliments that he talked himself into proposing marriage, down on one knee on the concrete steps of the Scotia Bank place in a foam cowboy hat and face paint. Hawt. He took my hand and looked into my eyes and, refusing to be rejected, he assured me that though Andrew may have splurged for better seats, the real fans were further up in the stands, and that he'd have a seat saved and warmed for me when (not should) I choose to join him.
Equilibrium was not restored until a Sens fan threatened to throw me down the stairs. The entire section, witnesses all of them to the awkward scene that failed to end in an engagement, erupted in laughter, enjoying having put the Leafs fan back in her place and their energy carried them through a battle into overtime and finally a (surprising) Ottawa victory in a shoot-out.
We spilled out into the crazy-packed parking lot after the game in a sea of jubilation. Andrew grabbed my hand in the crush and we strolled happily towards where we estimated the car to be parked, having already mostly forgotten which team lost and which team won, when yet another random person stopped us in our tracks.
This one though congratulated us.
If a Leafs girl and a Sens boy can still be holding hands, I have hope for this world yet. Anyone can get along together if you guys can.
So, beacons of hope that we were, we drove home together to rip the offending shirts off our backs and do the things that make us forget that we have any differences at all, except the anatomical ones that we tend to quite enjoy.