The American philospher, Josiah Royce, called loyalty "the supreme moral good."
So how does a father, who has raised his teenaged son to embrace this as a fundamental tenet in life, confess to being in breach of it; to harbouring a new, forbidden, deeply secret passion capable of tearing the family to pieces? The last thing that a boy transitioning into manhood needs to know is that his father has a new love.
And, needless to say, his mother would never understand.
To whom does one turn when the burden of betrayal becomes too much to bear? I don't know. If there is "A Learner's Guide To Coming Out" I haven't read it yet, but here goes.
I'm a Senators fan.
There it is. I've said it. There's no going back. Already I feel somehow reborn; four generations of familial imperative lifted from my shoulders in a single declaration. I'm an Ottawa Senators fan and I don't care who knows it, dammit!
Fox family hockey fandom began immediately upon arrival from Scotland in 1919 when the Toronto St. Pats were still eight years from becoming the Maple Leafs. Until the day she died at age 93, my grandmother steadfastly maintained (in an Ayrshire brogue which, amazingly, thickened rather than dimished over the years) "Turrrk Brrroda is the grrrrreatest goal-keeperrr the Maple Leafs everrr had!" She's still right! Fifty-six years after his retirement Broda still has more Stanley Cups to his name than any other goalie in Leaf history.
DECADES OF DOLDRUMS
But that's not why I'm crossing over. I've weathered decades of Leafs doldrums. I endured the dark ages under Harold Ballard, when the classiest captain in hockey, David Keon, walked away from the Leafs and for 40 years never looked back; and when another great Leaf leader, Darryl Sittler cut the captain's "C" off his sweater.
I'm shifting my allegiance because the Ottawa Senators have built one of the most exciting teams in all of professional sport, in a small market with a fraction of the resources of a team like Toronto; and they've done it by blending a tremendous work ethic with an absolute commitment to team play.
And when a crillion-dollar crybaby who shall remain nameless (Alexei Yashin) started whining about his contract and demanding to be traded, rather than capitalizing on moving him, which any other franchise in Ottawa's situation would have done, the Senators benched him! Sat out his expensive, petulant butt for the whole 99/00 season on a point of principal. If more teams would do that, more parents could afford to take their kids to the game.
So if you see my son, tell him I've defected. Because the only thing more certain than that the Leafs won't win the Cup again this year is that writers' kids don't read their parents' columns. Go Sens Go!!!