Sunday, January 14, 2007

Gummy Bear Hug

There is an instant camaraderie people feel with me because, well, for two reasons I think: I drive a classic Chevy pick-up truck (affectionately named Betty after a much-adored brewer back home) which is bright green--so it's cheery; and I wear a lot of bowties (so I look completely harmless).

This camaraderie means that, over time, I've developed a casual relationship with all the vagabonds downtown.

It's tough to fly below the radar in a bright green truck.

One of the kindest of them all, Gummy Pete, keeps me updated on his continuing battle with certain injectable unpleasantness. But like all relationships, there is still so much that i don't know about him!

Thankfully, during this -30 degree weather, we had a chance to catch up. Outside.

After the obligatory update on his progress with vice (I get to see his arms as Exhibit A and B) I learned that Gummy Pete worked the carnival circuit with his parents for some 10 years or so (favourite ride: The Scrambler; favourite food: corn dogs; favourite game: none, they're all fucking scams).

He then asked me for whatever I could spare.
It just so happened that I had a big bag of Gummy Bears leftover in my truck to spare.

B- "How about these Gummy Bears?"
GP- "Uh. . . sure. I like sugar."
B- "Then they're yours! Are you going to be able to handle these little gummy buggers?"
GP- "?"
B- "Well. . . I mean, your smile has been brighter."
GP- "Oh! The teeth? I'll just keep working on them until I can swallow'em whole."
B- "You sure? Don't choke. I don't want to get a knock on my door at 2am, the police looking grim, hauling me downtown to ask me when the last time was that i saw you."
GP- "You won't."
B- "I'm serious. I don't want to be an accessory to murder. I'd stand out like a sore thumb in a line-up with a bunch of Gummy Bears."
GP- "That's funny! Can you imagine? Getting put in a line-up like that? Har har har!"
B- "As a matter of fact I can."
B- (looking grave, serious)
GP- "HAR HAR HAR! You're a funny guy!"
B- "Thanks. You're the only one who thinks so. That's why I save all my best material for this parking lot."
B- "Pal--I have got to go. No offense--and I know this will make me sounds like a prick--but it's pretty damn cold out here. I gotta go, or my yet-to-be-born kids will have blue toes."
B- "Go out on top--Thank you, and have a good night!"

it wasn't until I got in Betty that i realised I had used my sworn enemy: the 'now don't take this the wrong way' cliche; however, for the first time in the history of the cliche, I don't think that it was taken the wrong way. Why? Because I think he agreed with me: I DID sound a bit like a prick; and it was pretty cold.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Pirates of Costco 2: Dead Man's Sweater

Let's face it: when I go out, I turn heads.
I don't mean this as a self-serving statement oozing bravado; I happen to wear a lot of bowties and embroidered western shirts and sharp hats--so I get the attention because clearly I crave it. Occasionally the heads are turning away from me to snicker. . . but that's neither here nor there.

I have this super excellent new curling sweater. Don't take my word for it; take the thousand words that leap to your mind when you look at these photos:

Tonight, at Costco (my first official shopping visit to this mecca) my wardrobe curried unexpected favour from a mother and her daughter.

B- (on the phone with my mother) "Blah blah blah."
A- (a near whisper)"Oh my God!"
B- (still on phone) "War in Iraq! Har har har!"
A- (interrupting) "Excuse me? My father had that exact sweater!"
B- (holding down the phone) "Really? It's a sharp sweater--the old pheasant hunting motif!"
A- "My father's dead. . . but I remember him wearing that sweater so clearly."

She was looking at me with the same dazed wonder a blind man looks at the sun. I, for once in only a handful of times, was at a loss for where to take the conversation. Dead relatives are a tough thing to discuss with strangers.

A- "Where did you get it?"
B- "Oh. . . I got it in Kensington. . . in Toronto."

The daughter piped up:

C- "Mom. Check the label--see if it's his."

At this point I thinking, 'Shit. I hope this isn't dear ol' dad's sweater. I love this sweater! I don't want someone crying all over it and offering me $20 so that she can have a sentimental piece of her dearly departed!"

A- "No. It was such a popular design, I guess. I had a deer on mine."
B- "Yeah! They're very popular! I know this guy has a football player on his."
C- "Check it! Maybe it's his."
B- (staring daggers of the Teen Queen)
A- "No. It likely isn't his."
B- "Would you like to check?"
A- (puts her hand on my woolen arm) "No. It was just a nice coincidence to see it. Here. On you."

That hand on my arm, I could have sworn, felt like it was creeping up my sleeve.

B- "Well. . . I better keep shopping for large quantities of things. Take it easy!"

And we parted. Thank God.
The last place I want to start hashing out old Electra complexes is in the pickle aisle of Costco; I would fear over-stimulation.

Reap What You Sow.

After the threat of making Santa's "Naughty List" loses its sting, what do parents have to wield as a club?

According to a conversation I overheard from a young guy in Ikea: plenty.

A- "Now listen to me. I know that this might be tough to hear--and it's going to sound shitty. . ."

Already my interest is piqued. Any time ANYONE has ever said ANYTHING to me with the prologue, 'Now, I don't want you to take this the wrong way, but. . . ' the ensuing comment has always made me want to kick them in the tenders.

A- ". . . but you have got to start being nicer to your parents. They're starting to get older, and when they die you want an inheritance. . ."


A- ". . . That's the only reason I started being nice to mine."


But the girlfriend's response took the cake.

C- "You're right."


My brother and I have already lost the inheritance battle to our deaf, blind toy poodle Kelsey. That little French bastard treats mom like the sun rises and sets on her--and he's been doing it since he was a puppy! Oh, if I only knew then what I know now. . .

Sunday, January 07, 2007

National Icon & High Fashion

With the recent snap of cool weather in Cowtown, I've been able to dust off one of my classic short-brim fedoras. If I'm to believe the tag under the brim, my little beauty was brought to life in Guelph through the loving handicraft of Jim Miln--thanks to you, sir.

Dashing around town, fedora perching on my head with a jaunty tilt, I learned quickly how to shorten the life of a compliment:

A- "Say, that's a really nice hat!"
B- "Thanks! It's beaver."
A- ". . . what?"
B- "The hat. . . it's beaver."
A- "What do you mean 'beaver'?"
B- "I mean, the brown fur my hat is made out of was formerly a beaver."
A- ". . . ."
B- "What?"
A- "That's gross, man. Beaver?"
B- ". . . I suppose that you don't want to see my rabbit foot keychain, huh?"
A- (leaves for greener conversation pastures)
B- (calling after)"You do realise that beavers are nasty little fuckers, don't you? Fine. . . go back to your C.U.C.U.M.B.E.R. Club reality, where beavers are friendly and dress like roller disco heros!"

Yes. My beaver fedora is hung on a deer hoof gun rack, which I currently use to support my flashiest bottle of scotch.

Yes. I am the biggest monster I know--both from a design and style position, and from a "Mills-McCartney" perspective.