‘Don’t let it hit my beautiful face’

19-goalie

An interview with the world’s most shamed/famed goaltender

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor

Formerly published by The Other Press. Feb. 17, 2014

I first met Charlie Winston on a rainy day at a coffee shop in Tsawwassen, British Columbia. I approached the man and bought him a cup of decaf. We sat in the back corner—we had to, for fear he’d be recognized—and he told me about the most traumatic moment of his life.

It all began in third grade when Winston was just a fragile little prepubescent boy with an afro: “There are two things kids do when they are growing up in Canada,” he told me in a hushed voice as if he were gossiping about the homeless man at the adjacent table. “One, we don’t talk about Fight Club, unless we mention how great Edward Norton is in it. And two, we play hockey.”

Such a statement left me caressing my soul patch, a personal project that I don’t care to mention in anymore depth. As I began encouraging him to delve further into his deep dark memories, he shuddered, almost breaking down into tears, recovering enough only to excuse himself to go to the bathroom.

Winston left me at the table for 45 minutes before he returned. What he was doing is still unknown.

“Every recess, while all the girls made up rumours about me,” said Winston, “I would be alone, making rumours about them.”

“Strange,” I thought, before vocalizing that same sentiment—“Strange.”

“Yes, very strange,” he agreed before continuing. “One day, the boys saw me sitting there on a tuffet, eating my curds and whey. They shyly walked over and asked if I wanted to play hockey with them or talk about Edward Norton. I told them that I thought Norton deserved an Academy Award for his performance and they agreed.”

According to Winston, the boys were satisfied by his opinions about the acclaimed actor and left him alone; he continued eating his food and gossiping to himself. Suddenly another boy appeared out of nowhere and asked if he would like to join them in a game of hockey. Never thought of as athletic, Winston declined.

“Pleeease!” said the boy. “You’d make such a good goalie.”

Never athletic, but always easily wooed, Winston agreed.

“Before I knew it I was standing there in front of the net feeling like Little Miss Muffet,” said Winston. “I was so vulnerable, more so when they started shooting rubber discs at me. I freaked! See, I didn’t really understand the rules of hockey at that time, so I thought they were trying to kill me with a thick novelty flying disc. I had to defend myself, you see! I could not die this way! They had to die!”

One save, two goals against, three fatalities, and 17 injuries were the result of Winston’s first game in net.

“I can still remember the screams,” he told me as his voice dropped to a secretive level. “I’m not sure if it was me screaming or the children—but I heard it: ‘Don’t let it hit my beautiful face!’ It still haunts me to this day.”

At the end of our interview, I stood up and shook the man’s hand. And then it dawned on me: I was shaking Charlie Winston’s hand.

Charlie Winston, the simple man, the murderer, and the new starting goalie for the Vancouver Canucks.

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