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A lot of school kids come in here at lunchtime now that Lily Weston is working here. They bring their sandwiches and lean on the office counter to talk to Lily. She’s the part-time mother of the rink house. She waters the plants and listens to the kids and laughs at the old men’s jokes. Outside, the snow blows and the skaters play their hockey or just skate around. Inside it’s warm and clean and the kids argue or play chess, or sneak a cigarette in the washroom (everyone over 12 seems to smoke). Sometimes they just sit there looking comfortable and kind of sleepy. What a difference from last year.
In the evenings the rink has reverted to being a hang-out for tough guys. The tough guys are sometimes hunched over a chessboard, sometimes eating a nice red apple from the snack bar. There’s a pleasing humour in that. But when you look at the bigger picture, it’s a fact that there’s lots of cursing, hardly any women, and families only on our hectic “Family Sundays.” The tough guys are older teenagers. They position themselves in a line in front of the rink doors, a welcoming committee for their friends and an unwelcoming committee for everyone else.
These guys play shinny hockey when it’s minus 15, not wanting to miss their game. In that way their toughness is admirable. But they seem to have no give. Although we’ve posted different time slots for different ages to play shinny, the tough guys play whenever they want. Most of the rink guards yield to their persuasion.