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What the puck is going on? 

The fun of riding around on a Zamboni at a hockey game

"I went down to the local arena ..." I sang on my way to the Charlotte Checkers game against the Johnston Chiefs on Dec. 7. (NOTE: A photo of the experience ran in the Scene section of last week's paper.)

"I Want to Drive the Zamboni" -- I was singing The Gear Daddies song because I had the privilege of riding the Zamboni at the second intermission of the game. And I was more excited about it than when I was finally tall enough to ride any of the big rides at Disney World (at 17).

And this despite my friend sending me a YouTube video of a Zamboni catching on fire at a game in Pennsylvania. Maybe since I'm vertically challenged and was limited to fun as a child due to height restrictions, I guess I just like riding things. That came out wrong ... you'll have to excuse me, I have a problem of unintentionally talking in porn. Like the time I told my boss man not to worry about firing a guy that was hitting on me by telling him "I know how to beat boys off." Anyway ...

Checker's games are a lot of fun. They have a down-home Southern feel for the transplant sport, and it's as though you get two sports to spectate for the low cost of one: hockey and ultimate fighting. And you can play Chuck-A-Puck where you throw a puck into the sunroof of a car driving around the ice -- like a fancy carnival game. It's got the perfect blend of family friendliness and drunkenness. And since their season lasts until April, there's a plethora of games to attend.

The hospitable Checkers staff sat me rinkside where we got the best view of the CheckMates and pretended to smack player's butts through the glass. Good seats, yes, but it's the danger zone. A hockey puck bounced off a man's now-bruised clavicle and onto my lap. What the puck?

For the first intermission, Santa Claus rode the Zamboni -- apparently he's upgraded his sleigh. It felt intimidating, having to follow in Santa's footsteps -- that, and climbing up on a mountain of a machine. But when they started playing "I Want to Ride the Zamboni" it was like a merry-go-round started up in my head. After about a lap of riding and waving at little kids, I became the kid that wants to press all the buttons ... "What's that do?" "How's that work?"

Afterwards, I went to Buckhead's for some hick-hop with live music from Scott & Woody and fresh tunes from DJ Mayor. There, I proceeded to swing dance to country music. As if anyone needed another reason to point and laugh at me.

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