I had a friend with an unfinished basement in his house, the standard suburban kind with smooth concrete flooring and wooden 2x4 frames mapping out future rooms with pipes and bundles of wires coming out of of future walls and ceilings. And it was hugh. We’d put on sneakers and hockey gear and our favorite team jerseys and slap-shot pucks into the insullation for hours while his parents watched TV upstairs, unperturbed by the damaging effects on their home.

One night I was invited for a sleepover. I packed my bag of hockey equipment, my stick, and snacks. When I got there we went straight to the basement and started firing pucks off the pipes, which was the most fun because when you made contact the sound was identical to a puck hitting an iron goalpost at a rink. TIIING!

There was this one spot in the basement with torn insulation plastic hanging off the beans, around the side of the staircase that created a blind spot and we’d deke around it like we were dodging opponents across center ice. I was in my element, feeling the puck on my stick as I passed it back and forth across the blade. I came flying around the corner, head down, too focused on my stick handling (a major no-no!) and when I looked up at the exact moment my friend took a shot on the other side of the semi-transparent sheet, the blade of his stick connected perfectly as my face. 

I don’t remember the impact but I’ll never forget walking upstairs, my Jersey covered in blood like Bobby Probert after a fight and how his mother, who was watching Ghostbusters on the TV in the living room, leapt off the sofa in horror at the sight of my mangled, grinning face.

We never found the tooth.