Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Zamboni's Fall from Grace

This week, I felt a stir deep inside me that has long been dormant. But as I laced my skates at the rink in the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden and penguin-walked toward the ice, I remembered one of my most persistent, if sometimes obscured, desires:

I think it would be sweet to drive a zamboni. Seriously. How awesome is the zamboni? And how cool would it be to drive it? Maybe not as a career, but clearly it's one of those things to check off of a To Do list.

But my faith in the zamboni was shaken this week, when I Googled this seemingly fine machine-- the granddaddy of all ice resurfacers-- and found the website It is unassuming enough, touting the legacy of Frank Zamboni and his eponymous invention, and there is a kids section of the website with zamboni games.

I am easily entertained, so I clicked on what appeared to be the coolest game. It turned out to be a picture of a zamboni sliding back and forth across some ice. Not so interactive, nor, dare I say, gamelike. But whatever. So I decided to try the checkers game.

What a sham!! The game actually prevented me from making legal moves! I cannot explain how irrationally upset this made me. The zamboni is a pure, noble machine, smoothing the way for all who wish to traipse across the ice. Or who get paid to barrel across the ice and pin an Eastern European ex-pat against the boards and knock out his teeth, as I saw at the Caps game tonight (not the teeth, just the potential for teeth). And yet, at the Verizon Center the zamboni is now one more lumbering advertisement for Bud Light-- like a blimp, but lower and slower--and on it sucks the innocent joy from a simple game of checkers against an automated "partner." So sad.

On a more exciting note, the Caps game tonight was awesome. It had been a long, dark time in my life since my hockey spectator days ended with the demise of the Hartford Whalers (damn you, Carolina Hurricanes... damn you...), so I was glad to return to the rink. Well, a rink.

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