Ask me what I did today, Internet.
Today I walked on Patrick Kane’s face, courtesy of the County Line Orchard corn maze in Hobart, Indiana. That’s right, I drove all the way to Indiana in order to pick apples, eat pumpkin donuts, ride a tractor, and to find my way through a corn maze in the shape of Patrick Kane (obviously).
I’ve always dreamed of touching the Cup, you guys, and today I had the opportunity. And let me tell you, it was just as magical as I always imagined. I mean, there was a lot more agriculture involved than even my most ambitious fantasies ever thought to include, but whatever. I don’t judge your dreams, Internet. Don’t judge mine.
The morning started outside a Potbelly’s, where apparently my compatriots spotted a wild Jonathan Toews in his natural habitat (lurking near the El). I’m told he even tossed them a wave, because if my first round of Speed Dating the Blackhawks taught us nothing else, it taught us that Jonathan Toews is a Cool Dad. Look how much fun he’s having on a Saturday morning, you guys! Waving to fans outside a Potbelly’s and pulling a Crosby with his hands in his pockets.
Anyway, today was a novelty for a baby Hawks fan like myself. I come from Virginia, where hockey is … not a thing. I really can’t emphasize how much people do not care about skating in my hometown, unless you count Friday nights at the roller rink (this is not a joke). My embarrassing love for the Blue Jackets and the Penguins has always been a solo venture, though I have lovely friends who are for the most part willing to benignly sit on my couch and listen to me spill emotions all over them.
The thing is, my trip across Patrick Kane’s face into the Stanley Cup really had nothing to do with the game of hockey. The fabulous bluegrass band playing on a stage that said BARNYARD JAMS across the top had nothing to do with hockey; the soft pretzel with cheddar cheese that I ate in under a minute had nothing to do with hockey; listening to hilarious and uncomfortable excerpts from niche market Amazon self-publications very aggressively had nothing to do with hockey.
But at the same time, it had everything to do with the Blackhawks. The County Line Orchard was full of teenage boys in backwards Hawks baseball caps, of little girls in too-big Toews and Kane jerseys, and of pictures of my face on Patrick Kane’s body.
(I’ve never looked so athletic in my life. Real Life Mollyhall is a clumsy, pigeon-toed butterfingers, but Patrick Kane Mollyhall only lost three games last season. Way to go, Patrick Kane Mollyhall! You’ve brought honor to the house of Seeley.)
I guess what I’m saying is that I’m very unused to hockey being a community sport. I watched the Stanley Cup final this year alone in a restaurant because I happened to know the bartender and he was nice enough to turn on the game. I can’t tell you how nice it was to feel like I was part of something. As much as I say that “we” need to stop depending so much on Sergei Bobrovsky, I am not, in fact, a Blue Jacket.
But I am, or I am learning to be, a Blackhawks fan. I was part of a “we” today–the “we” of people who put on their Hawks merch and drove an hour and a half outside of Chicago to stand in a cornfield and make jokes about Kane’s mullet and Jonathan apples (which, according to Wikipedia, are “a medium-sized sweet apple, with a strong touch of acid and a tough but smooth skin.” Do with that what you will).
It felt good. It maybe even felt like enough reason to spend $100 on a hockey ticket.