Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Rolling in his manger.

*a high five from Jesus was the best Christmas present anyone could even hope for!

I was Christmas shopping and not Holiday shopping today because I'm a little Irish Anglican. I made the mistake of wishing a store clerk who looked about as WASPy as myself a "Merry Christmas!"; the clerk retorted "Happy Holidays!"
I fumbled around for an apology, and said that I hoped I hadn't offended by wishing him a Merry Christmas.

A- "Oh, no worries! I celebrate Christmas!"
B- "Oh. I thought that since. . .you know, Happy Holidays. I thought maybe you celebrated a different holiday."
A- "Nope."
B- "Okay! Good. Merry Christmas, then! Again!"
A- "And Happy Holidays!"
B- ". . .yeah."

I get the whole Christmas vs. Holidays fiasco. I have friends who celebrate all kinds of things this time of year--Hell!--I've got friends who celebrate Christmas and don't particularly fancy Christ! But is it so wrong, from one Christian to another, to exchange a wish of 'Merry Christmas' in public? Does my language always have to be inclusive? I mean, I say 'Happy Birthday!' out loud, in public, even when I know that not everyone in the bar is celebrating a birthday.

Perhaps I'll start saying, "I'm having a Merry Christmas!" and then look to the sales clerk for a response of "And I'm having a Merry Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Festivus/Winter Solstice myself!" Sharing can be fun.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

The Beef on the Feds

People who are confused by federal politics need only look as far as Table 12 at my local A&W Restaurant for clarification.
It is preferable that any who attend the A&W tutorial have no existing opinion on anything, read at a Grade 6 level, and like icy cold mugs of root beer.

I sat close enough to overhear a Father and sometimes pundit explain, with the aid of The Calgary Sun, the current state of Federal politics to his eager-to-learn pre-teen daughter. Like most loyal Sun readers, he was only looking at the pictures.

F- "This is Paul Martin. He's the Prime Minister right now, but not for long. He's done a lot of lying. We don't trust him."
D- "Why?"
F- "Because he's done a lot of lying. This is the New Democrats leader. If he's elected, he'd give all our money--like the money for your Christmas presents--to poor people."
D- (silent horror)
F- "I don't remember his. . .Jack Layton--that's his name. I think he's married to a Chinese lady."
D- (silence--maybe confusion, because there are no Chinese in all of Alberta)
F- "Stephen Harper--our guy--is the Conservative Leader. You know that Mom and Dad and you are Conservatives, right?"
D- "Yeah."
F- "If he wins, hopefully things will get better for us out here--we'll get more of a say. Remember what your favourite colour is?"
D- "Pink!"
F- "And? What's the colour of Dad's tie?"
D- "Blue!"
F- "Right! Want to know anything else?"
D- "No."

So. There you have it. This poor girl just had to know more about the election, and dear old dad filled her in.
After this short lecture on politics, F turned to his onion rings to rebuild his strength.

D- "Are we fighting any wars right now?"
F- "No. The Americans are."
D- "Why?"
F- "Because. . . Did you have fun shopping for Christmas presents for Mom tonight?"

Without the assistance of pictures his wellspring of knowledge had dried up. The Father employed, perhaps unwittingly, the classic American strategy of Distraction to get himself out of a tight spot, while saving face for not really having an answer.

God, I love my new hometown!

Monday, December 05, 2005

A beer for me, and one for the biggot.

This afternoon I spent it, as all good salesmen should, sipping beers around town trying to drum up business and rapport with the staff. I affectionately call it "Rotating the stock".

Bellied up to the bar at one of my new "locals" I met a postman trying to drown out the cold Alberta Clipper that has gripped my new fair city. We started talking.

Was I from England?

No. (I get all kinds of wild guesses at my accent. In truth, it's really like Ottawa Valley crossed with East Coast; don't ask)

Did I like SW beer?

Yes. It's a hobby turned occupation for me.

What did I think of Calgary?

Very nice. Exceedingly friendly.

And that's when the veil started to slip.

A- "Well, you'll see. It's not that friendly. I was born in Tilsonburg, and old timers still rag on me for being from out east."
B- "Sheesh! How long did you live in Tilsonburg? I'm from close by those parts. My father used to listen to 101.3 Easy Listening all the time in the car. Drove us nuts."
A- "Three years. We moved to Calgary when I was three."
B- "And the old timers still consider you 'from out east'?"
A- "Yup. Alberta's rich. The richest in Canada. They hate sharing their fortune with a country that doesn't give them anything in return."
B- "Well. . . . I hope they aren't too hard on me."
A- "They will be."
B- "Oh."

Here comes the bomb.

A- "You'll find that Albertans are pretty conservative."
B- ". . . "
A- "My wife and I, we're pretty open-minded; we have niggers as friends."
B- "! ! !"

I shit you not. He tried to candy-coat his statement by lowering his voice when he said "niggers", but there it was. Like a shiny new bike he'd been dying to ride all winter! I gawked at him. Dropping the "N" word is like having a naked dead baby lying in the corner and trying not to talk about it. But when you think you should maybe mention it, you have no idea where to begin. He let me off the hook.

A- "Hey, we call them that in front of them--they don't mind! I mean, that's what they are. We get along great!"
B- ". . .what do you do for a living?"

Cross burner? Hate-monger? Jim Crow advocate? Grand Master?

Postman. A sub for folks who call in sick.

It should be said that EVERYONE else I met today was exceedingly nice, and didn't bring up gooks, wops, chinks, limeys, retards, midgets, crackers, faggots, or dykes--much to my relief.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Aloha Stranger!

Yesterday I attempted to do laundry for the first time since leaving Toronto.
I did have to recycle-wear a few things in my small suitcase in order to make it this far. It would have been easier if my lovely wife hadn't needed her suitcase, which, God forbid any police are reading this, is big enough to pack her entire body in.
Not that I would.
But I'm warning her: the cooking better improve!!

I was excited at the idea of fresh clothing, but couldn't operate the machine. It's an old decommissioned coin-op which required a "trick" I didn't know. So I went and knocked on my new basement neighbour's door. My overweight, slightly deranged neighbour who has elected to live in a basement apartment for 20 of her last 60 years. Who the fuck does that?

M- "Just a minute!"

She answered the door in what once must have been her favourite pair of black jogging pants; now, a shadow of their former self, the jogging pants were more consistent with what I know to be 'beaded curtains' than athletic wear. I use the world 'athletic' loosely. I should, as a hilarious pun, instead write 'athletic where', for there was little evidence that the jogging pants were there (and greater evidence of thigh, than I would have liked).

She was very helpful, and showed me the 'trick' with her free hand; the other hand was trying, in vain, to clutch enough material to make a veil, for modesty's sake.

After telling me not to worry, that she was a severe epileptic, and that if I discovered her lying in the hallway to go about my business (so long as she wasn't bleeding or in immediate danger), she dashed back to her room.

M- "I wasn't dressed when you knocked!"

I resisted calling back, "You still aren't!"

Move over Manitoba!

To illustrate how friendly Calgarians are, I submit this brief anecdote.
I was in 8th Street Sushi, and struck up a conversation with the owner while he busied himself making my lunch box special. We ventured onto the subject of my house hunting, and I told him that I had scored sweet pad in Marda Loop, to which he replied:

S- "Hey! Marda Loop? I got a buddy who lives down there; he's in pharmaceuticals. I should get your number so he can give you a call. You guys could get together for a beer!"

Here I am, some random dude that has walked in off the street, and the bossman is trying to hook me up with a new friend!
I could be an axe murderer on the lamb!
This isn't the first time I've had mutual friends forced on me; it's happened likely 6 other times since I've been here.
People just look at you, and if they think you've got a trusting face, they offer up their friends to you.

But I like it!