My mother had pulled the blue and white Toronto Maple Leafs sweater over my head and put my arms into the sleeves. She pulled the sweater down and carefully smoothed the maple leaf right in the middle of my chest.
I was crying: “I can’t wear that.”
“Why not? This sweater is a perfect fit.”
“Maurice Richard would never wear it.”
“You’re not Maurice Richard! Besides, it’s not what you put on your back that matters, it’s what you put inside your head.”
“You’ll never make me put in my head to wear a Toronto Maple Leafs sweater.”
My mother sighed in despair and explained to me: “If you don’t keep this sweater which fits you perfectly I’ll have to write to Monsieur Eaton and explain that you don’t want to wear the Toronto sweater. Monsieur Eaton understands French perfectly, but he’s English and he’s going to be insulted because he likes the Maple Leafs. If he’s insulted, do you think he’ll be in a hurry to answer us? Spring will come before you play a single game, just because you don’t want to wear that nice blue sweater.”
So, I had to wear the Toronto Maple Leafs sweater.
• from Roch Carrier’s “The Hockey Sweater,” The Hockey Sweater and Other Stories (1979), translated from the original French by Sheila Fischman
(Image: a young Leaf fan, circa the 1930s, whose sweater is a perfect fit, and whose mother didn’t have to remonstrate with him because Monsieur Eaton made a mistake.)