on loving sharks
Chris can’t remember not loving sharks. His parents aren’t totally certain where his first stuffed shark came from—none of his relatives remember buying it, and his parents, being graduate students with a newborn, weren’t exactly getting enough sleep to make clear memories at the time—but Sharkie is in all his baby pictures, and his grandparents (who were getting enough sleep) claim she was his favorite from the beginning. She remained his favorite for a long time, even as he acquired books about sharks, and nature videos about sharks, and what seemed to his parents like half a million shark toys.
If he’s being completely honest, Chris doesn’t really remember becoming a Sharks fan, either, but he does know the story. Shortly after he’d turned three, the Graduate Parents of Samwell had rented out Faber for the afternoon for an end-of-semester parent-and-toddler skating session. Pretty much all of the grad student parents who’d finished their grading (and a few who hadn’t, quite) were there, and Chris’s parents took the opportunity to invite several of them to a (somewhat belated) party in honor of Chris’s third birthday. A Canadian PhD candidate in mathematics (who had two kids and looked like he hadn’t slept in a month) asked Chris’s mom what kind of stuff Chris liked these days. She’d tried to tell him not to bother getting a present, but the mathematician had insisted, and Chris’s mom eventually said something along the lines of “well, he’s really into sharks…”
Two weeks later, half the Graduate Parents of Samwell (along with associated spouses and children) showed up to Chris’s birthday party bearing gifts of San José Sharks merchandise.
A couple of months after that, the same mathematician friend invited all three Chows over for a grading-and-babysitting party, and put on a hockey game for background noise. Chris was, according to his parents, utterly enthralled by all the people skating around the TV screen “wearing my Sharkie shirt!” And that was that.
Falling in love with playing hockey, however, is something Chris remembers very well indeed.