Friday, March 30, 2007

The Naked Five

The University of Maine men's hockey team is once again plowing through the NCAA tournament, despite losing six of its last eight regular season games. For a while it looked doubtful they could plow through a bowl of popcorn.

If you’ve never been to a game at Alfond Arena in Orono, you don’t know what you’re missing. The atmosphere is one-of-a-kind, mainly due to the students who occupy the balcony and remain standing for the entire game, showing more maturity and hockey knowledge than the rest of the building combined.

Get tickets anywhere outside the student section, and you’re likely to end up sitting near the same three people: The Guy Who Thinks He’s Very Clever, The Impatient Guy, and the Guy Who Takes Hockey Way Too Seriously.

Impatient Guy: “Shoot it! SHOOT IT, FOR GOD’S SAKE!”

Me: Uh, the ref hasn’t even dropped the puck yet… Okay, there it goes.

Clever Guy: “Well, I guess we won that face off, hahahahaaa!”

Serious Guy: “Will you shut up? I’m trying to watch the game.”

Me: You didn’t miss anything. The puck went out of play and hit some lady in the mouth.

Impatient Guy: “C’mon, SHOOOOOOOT IT!”

Meanwhile, the students are displaying the teamwork and careful planning necessary to execute a unified insult that’s actually somewhat entertaining (i.e. “I’m blind, I’m deaf, I wanna be a ref”). It makes me proud to be from Maine.

The heart of the student section at Alfond Arena is The Naked Five, a group of muscular, shirtless fraternity gentlemen who each paint one of the letters of “M-A-I-N-E” on his chest.

The Naked Five jump up and run around the arena, yelling, waving flags, and ringing bells, every time someone makes it through the concession line without spending more than $10.

You could throw a brick at one of these guys and it would shatter. I take comfort in knowing that the brick probably has a higher IQ.

During my last year in college, my best friend and I drove down to Boston for the conference tournament at the FleetCenter, as it was called in those days (I’m not sure what it is now – something like TD Banknorth Center of Gardening and Corporate Excess).

The fraternity responsible for The Naked Five, Alpha Drinka Toomucha, for some reason could not make the trip. They instead dispatched one member to try to round up a makeshift Naked Five from the crowd.

Naturally, my brawny frame stood out. Ah, who am I kidding. When I turn sideways I look like a pregnant question mark.

But it turns out a surprising number of people were reluctant to join The Naked Five, and he was desperate for an “I.” Otherwise they would have spelled “MANE.” Not good.

As soon as we got the paint on we started running around the building and yelling derogatory comments about the other team, the Boston College Turkeys. Then a security guard informed us that the FleetCenter did not allow partial nudity, except during WWE events.

We spent the rest of the game wandering around with our shirts half-on, ready to pull them down if we saw any sign of someone official-looking. At one point, after a goal, I accidentally ended up falling behind the other guys, which resulted in a spelling error (“MANE?”).

We lost that game. I blamed myself. I vowed to get into better shape – right after baseball season.

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