What has typically heightened blood pressure, a talent for aggravating others in a way not much else can, and fails to possess the ability to detect when a scenario is clearly inappropriate for laughter? A fan that “accidentally” spills beer on nearby individuals at a live sporting event. A number of weeks back, I was confronted with one of these – let’s call them “beertackers” (beer attackers) – at a Toronto Maple Leafs game at the Air Canada Centre. Indeed, I was the recipient of an ever-so-unpleasant beer shower. Upon having now fully come to terms with the incident, I feel strangely compelled to not only write about it, but to break down the traumatization into 5 distinct stages for you to experience second-hand (lucky you). This piece is dedicated to all the hockey fans out there who have ever been beer shower victims like myself; it’s time that we commiserate together. Because as they say… everything is all fun and games until the beer hits the fan.
STAGE 1: Sensory Overload
The Leafs score a goal. The volcano that was itching to erupt seizes its opportunity; people fling out of their seats like tiddlywinks catapulted into the air; the voices of nearly 20,000 shout “YEAH!” in unison. Jolts of electricity slither through your veins. The guys behind you cheer so hard that you’re sure they’re about to bust a gut. Or throw up. You pray it’s not the latter. A weird sensation suddenly washes over you…
STAGE 2: Confusion Craze
It’s odd. A foreign feeling to your body. You feel… yucky. Time freezes as your brain frantically searches for answers. You ponder if someone is playing a trick on you; if the cameramen will reveal themselves momentarily, prompting you to “smile and wave” because “you’re on candid camera!” At risk of looking like a fool, you cautiously drift your eyeballs to the left, and then to the right. You catch a glimpse of the guy beside you and notice the equally dumbfounded expression plastered on his face. Phew, I’m not alone. It’s when you see him intently examining his shirt that you finally realize what has hit you. It’s beer. Cold, wet beer.
STAGE 3: Putting Two and Two Together
You check the body of your shirt: only a few specks are visible. Ok, maybe it isn’t as bad as it feels. You check your left sleeve: the top third is completely drenched. Scratch that. With each successive second, you feel the liquid seep deeper and deeper into your clothing. You cringe knowing that in mere moments, your skin will practically be marinating in beer – beer that has touched a stranger’s lips; beer that could have easily been in contact with the depths of his mouth; perhaps not even beer at all, JUST BACKWASH. You’re so disgusted that you feel sick. Just over a third of the game still remains to be played. You wonder if it’s possible to get drunk from alcohol in ways other than direct ingestion. You hope so.
STAGE 4: WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!
“Sorry.” It’s the guy sitting in the row above you. Between the 3 or so beers he’s already consumed and the fact that you had to prompt the apology with an over-the-shoulder dirty glance, you can tell he really means it. “My buddy and I just got a little too excited and high-fived and the beer spilled,” he continues. A LITTLE too excited? The Leafs have now taken a 3-2 lead in the second period of a regular season game – not game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final, not a playoff game, not even a game against the rival Montreal Canadiens – no, a REGULAR SEASON GAME. The team is currently within 3 points of last place in the entire league and the goal is really THAT exciting to you? You’re holding a 16 ounce lid-less cup of beer in your hand yet you somehow feel that an over-enthusiastic high-five is in order? WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!
STAGE 5: And The Plot Thickens
As the second period buzzer sounds, you examine your clothing once again. You pull out a Kleenex that has been nestled in your jacket pocket for what appears to be ages and proceed to blot the beer on your shirt in an effort to relieve some of the suffering. The cause is hopeless. You twist your upper body 90 degrees to the left to re-position your flattened jacket at the back of your seat. As you lift it up, you notice several patches of discolouration. You solemnly sacrifice your index finger to determine the root of the splotches. Beer, of course. Your jacket is carrying POOLS of beer. The game goes to overtime (naturally) before finally ending in a Leafs loss (naturally). You pick your soggy self up out of your seat and join the stampede of fans exiting the arena. You make a mental note to self to come fully equipped to your next game with a rain poncho… or a spray can of “Silly String” to seek revenge on any “beertackers” that may loom (because nothing is more satisfying than spraying “Silly String” to your heart’s content). But really, you’ll probably just use this traumatizing experience as a means of warning others of the dangers of those darn “beertackers”.