Who wears short shorts | May 10, 2023

After last week’s story about my hot hockey mom friends, one of their husbands strongly suggested I also write something about the hockey dads (he actually said “hot hockey dads” but let’s not get ahead of ourselves) to balance it out.  So, fine.

My favorite hot hockey dad, Kyle, has a confident personal style when it comes to clothing.  By “confident,” I mean “unique;” and by “unique,” I mean “if he lays his eyeballs on it, he’ll probably wear it.”  He owns a meat sweatshirt, which is a sweatshirt wrapped in a screenprint of a close-up view of a marbled slab of beef.  He’s mildly known for a red, white, and royal blue velour track suit I gifted to him kind of as a joke a few Christmases ago after we took the train from New Jersey to New York and Kyle was noticeably distressed to be the only dude in the station who didn’t have a gold chain and trackie.  Also, he devoted one full summer to seersucker.

Kyle comes by his fashion sense honestly.  Ignoring the fact that he was born and raised in Canada – Home of the Bedazzled Man Jean – Kyle works for a hockey agency and spends a lot of time adjacent to athletes, commentators, coaches, and related.  Hockey players and their surrounding personages are similar to other sports in that they are partial to jazzy outfits, and Kyle is no different.  Kyle once attended an awards ceremony decked out in the loudest sport coat I’ve ever seen in person (as a reminder, my family used to own a men’s clothing store so I’ve SEEN some STUFF), and when he texted me a group photo there were so many big dudes sporting gaudy suits that it took me longer than it should have to pick him out of the crowd.

The latest look in men’s hockey is 50’s-esque shortie shorts.  How short?  In the words of my friend, “bend over and show ‘em you’re nuts” short.  Kyle is 100% on board.

We were in the Cities this weekend for a hockey tournament.  The parents were hanging out Friday evening when I heard Kyle say loudly to the dads around him,

“Tomorrow we’ll go get some five-and-a-half-inch-inseam shorts.”

When I was a teenager, I visited my Jersey family and my aunt informed me that sparkly, off-the-shoulder, neon-colored body suits were VERY IN and, in turn, I said,

“That’s too much pizzazz for North Dakota.”

Thanks to the Internet, North Dakota is much more pizzazzy than it was back in the 90’s…but, like, not all the way more.  For example, at a recent board meeting one of the male board members walked in wearing a burnt orange polo shirt and another gentleman exclaimed,

“Whoa, Ted, you tryin’ to glow in the dark or what?”

So, when Kyle proclaimed shortie shorts to a group of dads whose idea of razzle-dazzle is a black stripe on a pair of black joggers, their collective souls scrunched up as if he had suggested they wrap themselves in tinfoil and do a group Riverdance down the streets of Minneapolis.  However, since 1) Kyle is their friend and they didn’t want to hurt his feelings, and 2) no one wanted to be the first to say they weren’t – what’s the word, I’m looking for? Brave?  Insane? – enough for shortie shorts, they all said,


“They aren’t going to wear shortie shorts, leave them alone,” I said to Kyle.

“Yes, they will,” Kyle said, knowingly.

Now the other dads had a conundrum.  If they sided with me – the person who was accurate in what was going to happen regarding shortie short purchasing decisions – they would be going against the Hockey Dad Code that states that Hockey Dads Are Always Right And Are Also Hotter than Hockey Moms.  If they sided with Kyle…well, they’d better make sure their leg hair was combed in the right direction because Sky’s Out, Thighs Out.

“Haha,” they said.  “Yeah.”

The next day arrived.  Our sons played an early-morning game and then weren’t on the schedule again until 7:00 at night, leaving MANY hours available for shopping.  The moms were discussing a plan to fill the time when Kyle reminded us – again, loudly – that the dads were going shopping for shortie shorts.  The other dads didn’t respond because they had individually elected to give Kyle a fifty-foot berth.

“No, you’re not,” I said.

“Well, later,” he said.  “After lunch.”

“Way after lunch,” I said.

Wouldn’t you know it, every single one of those dads miraculously had something to do that entire, previously unplanned, day.  Some of them stayed to watch one of the younger teams play their own game, which is something they had never done before.  One guy straight-up left town.  The rest disappeared into the ether, reappearing juuust before 7:00 pm.  The game ended at 9:00; the stores were closed.  Shucks.

Kyle, however, remained undeterred.

On Sunday, Kyle and I popped into a sporting goods store because I wanted to buy a t-shirt I didn’t actually buy.  Kyle bee-lined for the men’s clothing section, emerging pleased as punch.

“Good thing we didn’t get the five-and-a-half-inch-inseam shorts,” he said, taking a picture and texting it to his friends.  “They sell FOUR-AND-A-HALF-INCH shorts here.”

“Pizzazzy,” I said.

Full disclosure, I’m a fan of the shortie shorts.  The photo above is of Kyle in normal-length shorts.  He’s the one on the right.

The Velva Library is now the Iris Swedlund School and Public Library after being named for a beloved librarian. (KFYR TV)

The Dakota Cruisers are gassed up and ready to hit the road. (Minot Daily News)

In news that will also make our Canadian family happy/unhappy (because they are fans of the Saskatchewan Roughriders), Minot’s Troy Kowal has been drafted by the BC Lions in the Canadian Football League. (KFYR TV)

Jim and Cindy Unruh have made the largest donation in University of Jamestown history. (Bismarck Tribune)

After only THIRTY YEARS, volunteers have raised enough money to revitalize the Lisbon Opera House. (Dickinson Press)

And in news that will make me happy/Kyle unhappy, line dancing is on its way BACK. (KFYR TV)

Are we newsletter friends yet?

Sign up for the weekly North Dakota Nice email and get this story and the news delivered to your inbox once a week (and never more than that).

Hockey Mom, Part 2 | May 3, 2023

My eleven-year-old has one more tournament weekend left in his spring hockey schedule.  I’m the one who packs for hockey tournaments because it requires a certain je ne sais quoi and Kyle does it wrong.  Here is a non-exhaustive list of things a mom needs for a travel hockey tournament:

  • Clothing for your player, including personalized team t-shirts, personalized team long-sleeves, personalized team shorts, personalized team sweatpants, personalized team hat, personalized team socks, personalized team welding coveralls, personalized team swimsuits, personalized team workout jacket, personalized team winter jacket, and sweatshirts from every single past tournament in which your child has ever played
  • Layered clothing for your other children so they can be inside a cold hockey rink and then strip everything off when they get out into the warm spring air without being fully nude (note: they will wear the same t-shirt and pants the entire time but it’s the thought that counts)
  • Twenty-five pairs of underwear so your player can change after each game/every fifteen minutes
  • Shoes to wear to the rink; shoes to wear to the pool (can’t be the same shoes)
  • A blanket and pillows, even though you are paying the hotel to provide them
  • Healthy snacks for your family to eat
  • Garbage snacks for your family to ACTUALLY eat
  • A cooler containing every flavor of Prime (especially white), and also beer
  • One of those bar globes stocked with crystal bottles of brown liquors
  • A backpack filled with toys, tablets, and ministicks for your non-playing child(ren) to open, spread around the floor, ignore, and then forget at the rink
  • A bag of medicinal items to heal 100% of the known and unknown ailments borne by man
  • Hockey equipment, such as jersey(s), pads, breezers, helmet, nut cup, one of those shirts with the Teflon neckpieces that they guy at the store told you don’t need but you know someone who once got a skate to the neck so you’re not taking any chances, hockey socks, regular socks, single extra sock, moldy t-shirt, skates, skate guards, tape, the hockey stick they love, the hockey stick they used to love but has now fallen out of favor because of the new hockey stick they love, deodorant/mouth guard to go unused but add unnecessary weight, and a water bottle with just enough water left in it to soak the bottom of the bag
  • Clothing and toiletries for yourself (optional)

At the last tournament, we checked into the room late at night.  I have a whole rigmarole I do to set up and organize the room – Kyle LOVES this – and I was in the bathroom laying out a little washcloth for everyone’s toothbrushes (Kyle ESPECIALLY loves this) when I realized I had forgotten to pack my makeup.

As noted above, makeup falls into the “optional” category – it’s all for the kids, amirite?!  Except that this particular team is some kind of miracle of biology and is filled with the most beautiful hockey moms the sport has to offer.  You know how during the Olympics someone says, “Hey, we should get a normal person to first run this race so we can understand how truly amazing these Olympians are”?   If we took a group photo of the moms on this team, you’d use me as that normal person…or maybe the photographer.

“Oh, Amanda,” I’m SURE you’re thinking, “You’re being hard on yourself; I’m guessing you are equally lovely.”  Well, a while back, my own mother – who is very much a believer that “beauty comes from within” and “her own children are superior to everyone else’s children” – looked around at this group of supermodel moms (who are also beautiful within, which is incredibly annoying) and said to me,

“These women are so pretty it’s intimidating.”

Obviously, no amount of makeup is going to get me anywhere near “Intimidation” level; but the grading curve is so high that I need that makeup to help me stay in the “Average Human” category and not down in “Ogre Crawling Out from Under a Bridge.”

The next morning, I woke up bright and early and was fully dressed before Kyle and Eleven left for Eleven’s first game.  I piled our seven-year-old into our Honda, raced to Target, bought the cheapest, simplest concoction I could find, and returned to the car satisfied that this whole experience would probably make me even more glamorous than if I had used my normal stuff.

Except here’s the thing: My normal stuff includes a magnifying mirror.  This magnifying mirror is important so that I can obsess over my flaws precisely apply my makeup.  Also, it’s important because without it I can’t really see my face.

According to the American Optometric Association, “Beginning in the early to mid-40s, many adults may start to have problems seeing clearly at close distances, especially when reading and working on the computer.  This is among the most common problems adults develop between ages 41 to 60.”  Here’s a fun fact: I’m 43.  Do I use reading glasses?  No, I do not.  Do I need reading glasses?  Um, sorry, what was the question?

So, there I was, with only a non-magnifying car mirror and my own eyeballs standing between me and a sack of makeup PROBABLY GUARANTEED to make me Intimidation Beautiful.

First I tried squinting, which wasn’t suuuuper helpful for applying eyeliner.  Then I tried mind over matter and attempted to will myself into seeing clearly.  Finally, I did that thing where you tilt your head back (my fellow olds will know what I’m talking about), which worked.  Or at least worked enough to get makeup onto my face.

I leaned back in my chair and realized that an elderly gentleman was standing in front of my car, watching me through the windshield.  I smiled and gave him an eyebrow-raised thumbs-up as if to say, “Eh?”  He shrugged and walked off.

“How do I look?”  I asked Seven.

“Good,” he said, without looking up from his tablet.

“Great,” I said.

“Why do you need makeup?”  He asked.

“Because I want to be pretty,” I said.

“You’re pretty all the time,” he said.

“That’s the right answer,” I said.

“…Except sometimes you aren’t pretty,” he said.

“Well, we can’t win every battle,” I said, pulling out of the parking lot.  “We just need to win the war.”

The photo was taken by my husband during the winter season. Here’s a fact about Kyle: It’s his birthday on Friday! If you feel like it, send him a message on Twitter.

For the past year, NDSU mechanical engineering students have worked to design Parker Sebens a tool to allow him to man a kayak without using his arms. (Fargo Forum)

Lakota’s Emma Jutila is 10 years old and the recipient of the Ever Forward Volunteer Champion Award for giving her time at the local nursing home. (Grand Forks Herald)

Woot woot!  It’s seedin’ time! (KFYR TV)

Can’t have the news without Hankinson’s Cody Mauch! Cody was taken in the second round of the NFL draft after being a walk-on at NDSU. (Facebook) (USA Today)

Ohmergersh, I LOVE roller skating. (KFYR TV)

Four Vietnam vets – Gary Benjamin, Larry Young, Don Schultz, and Wayne Berglund – shared their wartime experiences with a Central High School journalism class.

Are we newsletter friends yet?

Sign up for the weekly North Dakota Nice email and get this story and the news delivered to your inbox once a week (and never more than that).

Wild Kingdom presents: The father-son hockey game | March 15, 2023

My eleven-year-old’s hockey team had its wrap-up party, and I was dead-set against writing about it because 1) I don’t want people to avoid spending time with me for fear they will end up as a story (they should be afraid for other reasons); and 2) there are other things happening in my universe besides hockey.  For example, I now know the definition of the word “cheugy” – for my fellow olds, it means something is uncool – and am henceforth preparing an ice flow upon which my farmhouse-script “Live, Laugh, Yee-Haw” t-shirts and I will drift out into the irrelevant ether.  So, yeah, I’ve got stuff going on.

However, the moment I realized my husband and his fellow dads were having too much fun at said party I thought, “Giddyup, here we go.”  So…giddyup, here we go.

As a reminder, Kyle was one of the team’s co-managers, meaning it was his responsibility to plan the wrap-up party.

“Why don’t we go bowling or to supper?”  I suggested in my role as the co-assistant to the team’s co-manager.

“Great idea,” Kyle said – and then, not one hour later,

“We’re going to have a father-son hockey game.  Almost all of the dads can play, and the ones that can’t are going to coach and run the box.”

“Oh, okay,” I said.  “Are you going to coach or run the box?”

“I’m going to play,” he said, pulling out a mountain of IcyHot packs for his bum ankle, bad back, and barely-healed broken elbow that he broke playing hockey not six months prior.

“Oh, okay,” I said.  “The dads are going to lose that game, right?”

“Ha, yep,” Kyle said, avoiding eye contact.

“Because it’s for fun,” I said.

“Ha, yep,” Kyle said.

“And they are eleven,” I said.

“Yep,” he said.

“And you’re the grownups and they are your children,” I said.

“Yep,” he said.

On one of those David Attenborough-esque animal documentaries, a tiger was stalked and attacked by her cubs.

“The mother allows her babies to best her,” the narrator said, “in order to teach them important hunting skills.”

This “Ope, you got me!” parenting technique is practiced amongst 95% of the human moms I know, as well.  It’s not for the faint of heart; it takes an immense amount of artistry and skill to purposefully lose a game of Candy Land to a four-year-old.  One of my core childhood memories is racing against my mother in the pool, winning by half a mile as she flailed around as if she’d never seen water before.

“The lions are not as easy-going,” the narrator continued, “and frequently injure their cubs in the name of lifelong education.”

Another core childhood memory is the day that I finally beat my dad in a swimming race.  I was a senior in high school.

Game day arrived.  The dads had spent the week organizing their own jerseys, equipment, beverages, and stratagem.  They had not spent the same time or effort on their own children, as evidenced by the fact that three moms had to go home to pick up forgotten equipment.  I was one of those moms; thirty seconds before the puck was set to drop, Kyle casually skated up to the boards.

“Would you run back and get Eleven’s helmet?”  He asked.

“You just realized he didn’t have a helmet?”  I said.

Kyle blinked.  “Yeah,” he said.

I returned to the rink midway through the first period.  The score was 3-1 in favor of the Away team.  As the dads were wearing white – typically reserved for the Home team – I smiled and waved at my husband as I walked up the bleachers to the other moms.  All of the dads on the bench smiled and waved back.

The moms, on the other hand, were not smiling.

“I see this is going well,” I said as I sat down.

“No,” said one of the moms, as her husband scored a NHL-worthy goal on the kids.  The scoreboard ticked 4-1.

“BOO!”  I shouted.

“Hit him in the hamstring next time!”  The wife of the scoring dad shouted to the children on the ice.  “He’s old!”

The dads won 12-7. I did so much booing that I can no longer form the letter “O” with my lips.  The dad’s score would have been much higher if not for the lone father who Candy Landed it every time he got the puck.  Three of the kids’ goals came after the dads let all of the boys out on the ice for the final two minutes of play.  Kyle himself scored with a slapshot on his own son – one of two children he has promised to love unconditionally and raise for the rest of his life – who was in the net as the goalie.  Kyle celebrated big on the way back to bench, being careful not to look up into the stands at his wife.

“Did you have fun?”  I asked my son after the game.

“Yes!” he said.

“I had fun, too,” Kyle said.

“Good for you,” I said.

“The dads from our team should play the dads of the other team!”  Eleven said.

“Male lions will fight for territory and females, often to the death,” the narrator said.

“I don’t think we have enough health insurance for that,” I said, as Kyle rubbed his elbow.

The photo above was taken by my co-worker at the new Sacred Heart Martire Family Arena in Fairfield, Connecticut. This is Kyle training for the father-son game, which took place the following day.

Highway 91 now has a sign proclaiming it North Dakota’s shortest highway, as it takes 40 seconds at 25 mph to complete. (Grand Forks Herald)

The community of Oakes has spent the winter putting together a puzzle. (KFYR TV)

West Fargo High School’s Jenna Miller will be signing copies of her book at Barnes & Noble on March 18. (Fargo Forum)

Mandan High School’s Rustin Medewald was interviewed for the first time after being named MVP of a Super A State Basketball game, and he did the interview in ASL in honor of his parents. (KFYR TV)

Bottineau’s David Hoff has been named the 2022 Paralympic Coach of the Year by USA Hockey. (KX Net)

Are we newsletter friends yet?

Sign up for the weekly North Dakota Nice email and get this story and the news delivered to your inbox once a week (and never more than that).