A break from working…
I’ve struggled to find the time to post today, as I’m working on a pile of freelance assignments due in a hurry but right now I’m halfway through a piece on Theoren Fleury for Lethbridge’s Bridge Magazine and am stranded at just over 700 words.
So rather than continue to stare blankly at the last sentence until I begin to question the first-40 before it, I figured I would do something less destructive. When nothing came to mind I decided to blog.
Rim shot, lengthy eye roll and begin.
I noted a few quick thoughts yesterday regarding Fleury’s recent appearances in the news after blogging about the Flames and a few of those donning the uniform. Now today, I have spent a lot of time putting this piece together and have had to replay the interview I had with him last month to get myself back into Fleury mode.
Even though only five weeks have gone by since our sit-down, those most recent events caused me to view the recording a little differently this time. When I first sat down with Theo I left the interview with two thoughts on my mind.
One was, ‘Holy crap, I just spent 49:44 seconds with Theo Fleury.’ I mean, I never really liked him from a fan’s point of view; he played for Moose Jaw when I lived in Regina and he was on the ’89 Flames team that beat my Habs for the Cup, IN MONTREAL NO LESS. Actually, there might have been moments in my childhood when said I hated that little weasel but that’s really neither here nor there at this point. What I’m saying is as an adult I was able to appreciate the greatness of his skill and will ALWAYS be honoured to meet anyone from the ’02 Olympic team.
The second thing I couldn’t stop thinking about was how anyone might avoid Fleury’s same path in life if they were to face what he went through. The detail of his book, Playing With Fire, when describing his childhood in a house of addictions, portrays his conditions at home as harsh but not anything completely out of this world. However, the level of the sexual abuse added onto an already tough spot was a guaranteed recipe for his own destruction, in my mind.
I instantly felt sorry for him for everything that has ever happened, from the abuse to the addiction to the on-ice tyrants, which had become extremely normal. But I was also an instant fan of his as a man, because he had hit rock bottom yet managed to turn his problems and mistakes into something to benefit the world.
Today, as I listened to the interview I realized, while I’m still a fan and very happy for his turnaround, his antics in life weren’t entirely due to other people’s mistreatment toward him. Fleury has been a feisty mouthpiece from day one and has always worn his heart on his sleeve. This is something that is part of Fleury’s genetic makeup.
We are all shaped by our experiences, good or bad, and sometimes circumstances beyond our control can influence our own behaviour. But, then again, some people are just born to be little buggers. I don’t know what type of lifestyle he might have had without the abuse but I guarantee we would still remember him as a little bugger on skates.
Anyone who knows me will attest that none of this is an insult to the man. I’m a bugger too, just more beanpole-ish than little.
My point is simply that some of what I quickly chalked up to being a result of abuse likely would have existed even if he had spent his childhood on the road with the Partridge Family. The chicken-wing gestures, the threatening of eye-ectomies and the calling out of former teams at the tender age of 41 were all original Theo, from the heart.
The weasel would have emerged regardless. Trust me.