A visit to Whistler and other short stories. I like the one about the bear crap.

October 11, 2009

I’m in Whistler Village.  Home to some of the best skiing in British Columbia. One of the host sites of the 2010 Winter Olympics. It’s located about three hours from my hometown and yet I’ve never been here.

Half the people I’ve met in New Zealand have visited Whislter, so I thought it was time I checked out the place all those Kiwis rave about.

I love the architecture and the stonework of the high-end hotels. I love the walking mall. I love the building that features an Earls restaurant above a Starbucks. Beautiful women working that close to the world’s best coffee? When I die, this is where you’ll find my ghost. Calamari on my plate, dark roast in my mug. Smile on my face.

The landscape is still only green and brown on this fall day, but the place is surprisingly busy. I hear accents: Italian, French, German. Even Australian, because Canada will pretty much let anybody in.

I try to imagine the village blanketed in snow. Filled with skiers and snowboarders instead of BMXers.

Speaking of BMXers, there is an obvious age division when it comes to wearing the mandatory helmet. Anyone under 12 wears their headgear in place at all times, because it’s cool to hide your face. Those over 12 who are not yet on the course, wear their helmets propped high. Because it’s cool to look as if you have a plastic and plexiglass growth sprouting from the top of your head.

There are several signs warning about bears. Things like, don’t feed the bears. And, especially, don’t feed small children to the bears (something about indigestion). But I see not a single wild thing. Not even a squirrel.

What I do is nearly step in a large brown splat in the middle of the sidewalk on the outskirts of the village.

I make two observations from this sample of ursine excrement: Bears eat a lot of berries. And, bears don’t bother chewing those berries.

***

My brother is shopping at his local Best Buy store. He approaches one of the sales staff, a young Asian man.

My brother: ‘Excuse me, could you help me buy a calculator.”

Salesman: “You know, just because I’m Chinese doesn’t mean I know anything about numbers.”

***

Dad asks one of the managers of the Langley Save-On-Foods store if there is any 2% milk in the storeroom, because the cooler shelf is empty. The fellow takes a quick look in the back, shakes his head no, looks at his bare wrist and says the next shipment is due in 90 minutes.

I smile as I indicate his lack of a timepiece. “Your watch is a bit slow,” I say.

“I know what time it is, buddy,” he snaps at me.

All righty, then. So what you don’t know about is a sense of humour or customer service.

***

I’m at a Canucks game at GM Place. After one hard bodycheck, the young woman behind me complains, “That was mean.”

Mean? Puh-lease. You know you’re at a hockey game, right? If you wanted nice, you should have stayed home and watched Dancing With the Stars. Wimp.

***

I’m at the Langley Shoppers Drug Mart, looking for something in Canada to take back to Viking Woman in New Zealand.

Me: “This is probably a wild goose chase, but do you carry a lipstick called Brazen Raisin?”

Sales lady: “Who makes it?”

Me: “What?”

Sales lady: “Which company makes it?”

Me: “I’m a man. We don’t know things like that.”

Sales lady: “OK. What colour is it?”

Me: “What?”

Sales lady: “Is it red or brown?”

Me: “I’m sorry, but what part of ‘I’m a man’ did you not understand?”

In the end, I bought molasses kisses. They’re Viking Woman’s favourite Halloween treat. They’re brown and made by Kerr.

These are the things men know. Well, that and sports.

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