The 43rd in our 118-part series, and second in our two-part mini-series.
Laughing at Sid Crosby
In our previous Reason We Love Hockey we expounded briefly on the joy that is admiring Sid Crosby. But along with actually loving him for how staggeringly good a hockey player he is, we also derive endless hours of entertainment from laughing at him. He has a richness of character that requires no elaborate, fantastical mythology (although that’s pretty inevitable to come up with) — there is just so much pathos right there on the surface to mock. That said, there is something so utterly compelling and lovable about him that makes us mock with a tenderness and care that we feel for literally no one else. Not even real people we know. Not even each other.
This interview was recently brought to the IPB Irregulars’ attention by Heather B.. Now, this has long been a favorite interview for us, and we’ve decided to share a little bit of game diary-style reaction to it to provide you, Gentle Reader, with a taste of how we laugh at Sid at stately IPB Manor.
0:03 Pookie: “He’s being interviewed by someone who wishes she was Jerri from ‘Strangers With Candy’. I mean, look at her outfit!” Schnookie: “I can’t. All I can see are those enormous thighs of his. How does he fit through doorways?”
0:07 The interviewer says, “I want to find out more about you off the ice”. Sid looks terrified. And he’s started The Nodding. (Sid’s patented interview style is to digest the question being thrown at him by nodding and looking like he’s concentrating. Sometimes he adds to that a little bit of “uh huh… uh huh… uh huh…” affirmation. Then when he opens his mouth to answer, he either chirps “Sure!” or, hilariously, “Uh-uh, no.”) Pookie: “Only seven seconds in and he’s already Nodding. This is great.”
0:30 Sid is discussing living at Mario’s, and in his squeaky voice sounds like an old, old man discussing how having four kids around the house (and seriously, aren’t Mario’s kids, like, teenagers now?) “grounds” him. Pookie: “They ground him because he’s a robot. Like, they physically ground him electrically.”
0:47 When asked whether he talks about hockey at the Lemieux house, he nods along with the question, then swings his head around sort of noncommittally and says, “Uhhh… probably not a lot to do with hockey.” Poor Sid. Not only can he not answer questions about what music he listens to, he can’t answer questions about what he talks about. People, this is simple: he doesn’t talk to Mario Lemieux. Would you?
0:51 Sid further explains, somewhat desperately and totally unconvincingly, that maybe he talks about stuff that’s “happening in life in general” when he’s home with the Lemieuxsli. Pookie: “What does he have going on ‘in life in general’ that isn’t hockey?”
1:14 It takes us several minutes to pick ourselves up off the floor from how hard we laugh when the infamous jeans question is asked. Jerri is trying to figure out how Sid hypothetically goes out shopping for random stuff (this would be a much easier question for Crunchy to answer, considering what a “driving around buying stuff” problem he has), and she makes the terrible logistical choice of “jeans” as the random, hypothetical object. Sid doesn’t do random. Sid doesn’t do hypothetical. Sid is nothing if not literal. And, nearly cracking his little wooden robot boy exterior with sheer mortification, he squirms that he, uh, doesn’t really go out much into Pittsburgh to buy jeans. He adds that jeans are hard for hockey players to buy. Jerri, blind, it seems, to Sid’s ginormous lower body (his ass muscles have ass muscles), tries for an “oh, we girls have to stick together!” jocularity that — tee hee! — buying jeans that fit is hard! Sid squirms further. And admits, in a move we will never — not until the day we are dead and buried — stop making fun of, that he gets his jeans custom made. Because his caboose is too copious to fit in regular jeans. Pookie, in her Sid voice: “I like these skinny jeans, but I need them to be a little more roomy in the rear…”
2:08 Sid discusses, warmly and graciously, how welcome and comfortable he feels in Pittsburgh, in particular how Penguins fans generally let him go about his business without being obnoxious. Jerri comments that she’s been in a situation with Sid where he was approached by fans seeking autographs, and she “felt claustrophobic”. Suddenly Sid is, for a fleeting moment, wearing a look of pure condescension — “Oh you poor little local news personality” his smirk seems to say, “How little you know about fame.”
2:26 He elaborates in this almost scarily “old hand” sort of way (because seriously, how is it a 19-year-old is so capable of handling the pressures of fame? It is amazing how his personality seems perfectly suited to being a phenom) about how he has learned to pick his spots to venture out into the public eye. Then he switches to grandfatherly storytelling mode, where he says, “I’ve told the story a ton of times where I went Christmas shopping at the last minute…” Yeah, we’ve heard that one a million times (seriously) — that Sid learned the hard way how crowded malls are on December 23rd. Pookie: “I bet that thing was staged. Just so Sid would have a flavoring personal experience to talk about during interviews. Next his handlers are going to make him go to, like, a rock concert. So he can say, ‘I’ve told this story a ton of times, but there was that time I went to an Nickelback concert…’” She then adds, “Of course it’s totally bogus that he even went to the mall before Christmas. We all know he just goes back home and gives everyone in his family an autographed stick.”
2:50 Oh poor Sid. This one’s even worse than “What’s your favorite band?” Jerri is trying to creep her way into his custom-built pants and asks, “Do you meet people? Do you have a girlfriend?” Unlike the favorite band question, though, he seems comfortably prepared for this. He only looks mostly like he’d love for the floor to swallow him up as he squeaks, “I’m single. It’s tough.” There are so many directions we want to go with this, that we’re just going to leave it be.
3:00 He tries to explain why he doesn’t have a girlfriend by saying “We don’t have a lot of time away from the rink.” Right. Hockey players as a rule don’t have enough time to spend with girls. Pookie: “Marty Brodeur is like, ‘WHAT? Well, if we only practiced as much as they do, I never would have had that trouble…’”
3:15 Jerri: “When you’re ready to find a girlfriend, what do you look for in them?” Boomer, from the depths of her chair: “I don’t know. Unkie Mario finds them for me.” We start to laugh uproariously, but then she continues, “He finds them and brings them to the house. Their names are Ginger and Fluffy… and… crap. I don’t know any stripper names.” Pookie: “No kidding. This is like Sid’s dating kittens.” Boomer continues unabated: “Uhhh… and Blaze?” (Pookie’s suggestion of what Sid looks for in a girl: “A receipt saying Unkie Mario paid for her”. Schnookie suggests: “A penis”.)
3:46 Jerri is now trying to fix him up. With herself. It is almost immeasurably sad and/or hilarious that he really earnestly explains that yes, he gets people trying to fix him up with girls all the time, and no, he doesn’t often take them up on the offers. We’ve said it before, and will likely say it many, many more times in the next 13 minutes: Poor Sid.
4:24 “This is the reason I wanted to interview you,” Jerri shifts gears when she realizes there no room in those custom-built jeans for her, “Autographs.” She explains that “a lot of Steelers” wanted Sid’s autograph (really? Which ones? For reals?), and asks which athletes’ autographs Sid wants. The sigh he heaves in response to this is almost epic in scope. Jerri, listen to us: Sid doesn’t care. Sid likes hockey. Period. End of discussion. Are other athletes’ autographs hockey? No. So he’s not interested. (For the record, he demurs but also came prepared by his handlers: he claims to have Heinz Ward’s John Hancock. Like we believe it. [Although if he does, we can only hope it's like the Brendan Shanahan autograph we have on a Margaritaville cocktail napkin that has an illustration of an heavily inebriated donkey on it. Not that we met Shanny at such an establishment. Boomer found the napkin on the ground outside the Whalers arena after our first live game and had Shanny sign it when we ran into him at the players' exit.])
4:56 The autograph discussion leads to Sid accidentally using the phrase, “sports other than hockey”. Jerri pounces. “What sports other than hockey do you like?” Pookie, in her most pathetic Sid voice: “Hockey.” (He explains that he likes football, but admits he didn’t before he moved to the States. He informs us that in Pittsburgh on Sundays everyone watches football, and Pookie concludes for him: “And I want to be like everyone. I can watch football!”)
5:33 Pressed further, Sid tosses out that he’s “pretty competitive” and played many sports when he was younger. “Baseball… anything… tennis…” Pookie adds: “Hockey… anything… hockey… um… hockey…”
5:43 Jerri decides to get Sid more relaxed by engaging him at pool. As he starts the game she conversationally asks, “So, who are your friends on the team?” (Pookie: “F-riends? What is this word?”) He answers just the way he answers the music question: “Everybody”. We don’t doubt many of his teammates, upon hearing this, had very painful experiences involving a forceful meeting of whatever they were drinking with the soft tissue in their nasal passages. He of course settles on “Army” as his friend, and when Jerri suggests that Colby, as Sid’s roomie, would be able to tell the most lurid stories about Sid, Sid says resignedly, “Yeah, he’ll give you some dirt if you need it.” It is almost scary how accommodating he is — he seriously sounds like he’s suggesting the best possible source for dirt on him.
6:05 Feeling like she’s got him on the run now, Jerri starts to ask another question and Sid actually deflects it. “It’s your turn.” She has no idea what he’s talking about. He is forced to explain the rules of pool. She sounds like us whenever we’re trying not to have to engage in sporting activity. Fake, lame, and pathetic. Anyway, she manages to sink a shot, then misses, and Sid gets very quiet as he contemplates his next shot. And, ditz she is, Jerri actually waits for him to set up before launching into her next question; Sid appears, if you’re looking for it, for just a moment to be really, really pissed at her. Jerri, which part of “insanely competitive” didn’t you pick up about this kid?
7:02 She asks him what he wants to do after hockey. Jerri — he’s 19. Give him a break. He is unprepared and a tiny bit taken aback. “I dunno…” he spins his wheels, then heartbreakingly says, “I don’t wanna think about it.” She tries to backtrack by saying something about how everyone just wants him to play forever, and then he chirps, in this little-kid naive sort of way, “Maybe something in hockey.” Sid. You’re killing us. When pressed, he says he wants to be an assistant coach because that’s easier than GMing or head coaching, and assistant coaches just get to “relax and hang out”. Pause, as Sid realizes what he’s just said. “Not that assistant coaches don’t work hard,” he scrambles, as Pierre McGuire starts composing his angry letter, “Dear Sidney, I will have you know I was an essential part of a Stanley Cup championship with the Penguins when I was an assistant coach. In fact, I now refer to that period of my life as ‘when I was a coach’, and will someday hope to fudge it up to ‘when I was a head coach’. So you can take your ‘relax and hang out’ and stuff it. With deepest love, Pierre. P.S. Are we still dating?” (Boomer suggests Sid wants to be an assistant coach like Larry Robinson. “He wants to play polo like Larry. Just imagine the jodhpurs he’d have to have made!”)
7:59 Jerri asks what kind of food Sid likes. When is she going to learn not to ask what his favorite things are? (For the record, he goes crazy and chooses “Italian… steak… [shrug]” as his faves. It is probably very difficult for him not to add, “Hockey”.) She pursues this further and asks if he gets mobbed when he’s out, and Sid explains that Pittsburgh fans are very mellow and reasonable, and “it’s not that bad here. Really.” Pookie: “Doesn’t it sound like he’s trying to convince himself of that?”
8:37 In a moment that makes us relive every excruciating “MOM! SHUT UP!” teenage moment from our lives, Jerri asks what kind of advice about girls Mario and Nathalie gave Sid. In an example of what an extraordinary talent for suffering through miserable interview experiences Sid’s got, he actually manages to answer by tiptoeing around explaining what we can only imagine was the most ridonkulous sex-ed lecture in the history of the universe. (Sid says, “Mario said on the ice to enjoy it, and off the ice to…” he trails off. Pookie concludes for him, “not enjoy it.”)
9:11 Jerri finally puts Sid out of his misery by changing the subject: “Everyone says how grounded you are!” Sid is genuinely, smilingly, unable to come up with an answer. He walks around his pool cue, shrugging helplessly, and then finally, sweetly, says, “I guess you’d have to talk to my parents about that.” Seriously, how is it possible not to like this guy?
9:29 Suddenly they’re discussing Cole Harbour, and Sid asks Jerri, “Have you ever been there?” He sounds like a greeter for the Nova Scotia Board of Tourism. He then ratchets it up a notch in his effort to someday get elected unanimously as the mayor of Cole Harbour and says, with unabashed pride, “If you go there I guarantee you’ll make five friends in the first day.” His genuine smile fades, though, when Jerri gushes, “You must be a hero there!” He doesn’t want to be a hero. He just wants to be mayor.
10:00 This interview hits its nadir right here. First, Jerri asks Sid who he calls back home with his exciting news, like, say, making the All-Star team. There is a moment of deeply painful silence as he tries to come up with an answer, and the best he has to offer is, “They all already know.” Damn. Jerri just forced Sid to admit he has no friends! And before the full ramifications of that excruciatingly sad truth can sink in, she goes in for the kill: “What kind of music do you like?” His answer comes swiftly and emphatically, clearly hoping it will be the final word in this line of questioning: “Everything.”
10:17 Jerri won’t take “Everything” for an answer, and she presses further, “What gets you motivated?” An expression of anger seems to flit across Sid’s face, and he contemplates quietly for a second. Then, as if it’s the same thing as choosing something for himself, he says, “A lot of the guys like to listen to Metallica.” Oh dear lord. This is the player who is going to Save Hockey — a guy who, when asked to name a band he likes, says, “someone else I know listens to these guys!” (He digs the hole deeper when Jerri makes him admit that he, in fact, does not like Metallica. “I don’t know… I like… Rock…” he stammers, and Pookie finishes for him, “and/or Roll.”) (To be fair, he names Foo Fighters and Three Days Grace as bands he likes. Jerri has not heard of the latter. “Am I too old?” she asks, and Pookie completes her question for her: “For you? Am I too old for you?”)
11:04 Jerri decides the pool game is over and she challenges Sid to bubble hockey. He lights up: “I have one of those at home!” Sid likes it because it’s hockey. (When they cut to the bubble hockey, she asks him to reiterate the “What do you want to do after hockey?” sequence from mere moments earlier. He does a remarkably earnest and professional job of pretending like he’s coming up with his answer anew. This really drives home how Sid spends every single day answering the same questions over and over again, before work, after work, during work. No wonder all his answers always sound the same.)
11:41 Hey, is this the first moment in Sid’s life where he’s actually sounded a bit like a teenage boy? He looks down at the bubble hockey game and exclaims, “Hey! This works out great! I got Canada! You got America –” suddenly concern creeps into his enthusiasm, “Are you American?” And that’s where he stops sounding like a teenaged kid. How he’s suddenly solicitously worried that he’s going to accidentally make this random TV interviewer represent the wrong country at bubble hockey.
11:55 We get a wide-angle shot of the two of them at the bubble hockey table, and Sid’s legs practically form a perfect circle for how outrageously bowed they are.
12:39 Jerri tries to explain why Sid’s kicking her ass at bubble hockey by repeating that “Sid has one of these at home.” Realizing how lame that sounds, Sid tries to back off his earlier enthusiasm for the game. “I’ve never used it,” he mumbles. He takes tremendous delight that she almost scores into her own net. “That would have been cool!” he delights.
13:30 When asked when he knew he would make it to the NHL, he very genuinely responds, “Last year.” Jerri is flummoxed. She refuses to believe he didn’t spend his preteen years swaggering around as the future superstar. “What do you mean,” she shrieks, “You didn’t think you were good enough?” He explains, “I was confident I could play, but I mean, it’s… for me at least it was just a dream… until then. For me, at least, I didn’t want to expect it.” Seriously. People. How is it possible not to like this guy?
14:05 Something unclear happens in the bubble hockey game that causes both Jerri and Sid to start cracking up. Sidney Crosby’s laugh literally defies description. It is just this escalating, high-pitched, “ho ho ho ho ho” that gets louder and faster and more operatic the harder he laughs. As much as his caboose should be a national treasure, so, too, should that ridiculous laugh.
14:46 Jerri asks “What else do we need to know about you, since we have a minute left?” Apparently the limit to Sid’s politeness is 14 minutes and 45 seconds, because he tersely responds, “I dunno.”
15:00 She presses Sid for gossip about his teammates. Sid tries to wriggle off the hook by claiming he’s terrible at remembering “stories” about guys. Then he decides to dish some “dirt” on Army “because he’s a good target”, and what does Sid consider to be wildly scandalous and titillating gossip about Colby Armstrong? “He snores.” Really? With that schnozz? We never would have guessed. Anyway, he continues to dish, “He snores like crazy.” Jerri, running with it: “So that keeps you up?” Sid: “No.” (He claims to be “one of those people who falls asleep within two minutes of their head hitting the pillow” and seems to be really proud of this. Pookie: “He’s so proud to be ‘one of those people’ because it means he’s part of a group.”)
16:07 Sid tries to wind the interview down by promising to film footage of Army snoring. He even offers to film it on his own camera. Such a valiant prince, sweet Sid is.
16:20 Once again Jerri asks him what else needs to be covered. Sid thinks they’ve hit everything: “We talked hockey. We talked about Army. [Pause] We talked about girls.” And that, in a nutshell explains Sid Crosby and the order of things in his universe.