Canadian nuances, Humour

Canadian nuances – Part 4: The Dance of Gentlemen

If you’ve ever encountered a Canadian, or at least heard of them, you will hear a variety of things. Apart from them growing enraged over games of ice hockey, and drowning their pancakes in maple syrup, you will be told something to the effect of “They’re a friendly and polite bunch of people.” Today I’ve decided to go on a little rant about the politeness of these snow-covered creatures. Coming from a country where the rules blend into guidelines more often than not, when I’m suddenly forced to follow procedures without question…it can feel like the proverbial nail is skating down the chalkboard. I’ll give you an example…

After first arriving in Canada I figured out where the nearest bottle store was from my house. Why? (Because without it life has fewer colors in it). The first time I visit I grab a six pack of stout, I get to the counter and the older gentlemen behind it grabs my beers and enquires “Do you happen to have I.D. on you?” I counter the question with a dumbstruck expression and say to the guy that I’m not a teenager. I’m told that regardless he needed to see my mug on something otherwise by law he couldn’t sell it to me.

I soon realize my arguments are as effective as walking the streets of Vancouver minus an umbrella. I decided to walk the two blocks back to my apartment, grumbling as I go, to sequester my beer ticket. I arrive home and I can’t find my PR card (i.e. permanent residence card). I rummage a little and decide my passport should suffice.

I return to the bottle store again, gripping my beer ticket like a weapon of the first world. I hand it to the same gentleman. He takes a good minute scrutinizing my picture and then comments “the photo is a little blurry.” I shrug and tell him, “You asked me for ID. That is all I have.”  He nods and allows the purchase to continue.

You may wonder why did this ordeal drove me to write several paragraphs. The answer is in my home country from the legal drinking age of 18 and upwards, I never once was asked to present my ID before buying alcohol. Never. In fact it never crossed my mind to have my ID on me when buying beer. This is one example of the Canucks having a high regard for the law, now I’ll move on to illustration I have dubbed “the dance of gentlemen”.

I have explained a little earlier that one of the primary values of Canadians is to be considerate of others. One of my Canuck house-mate mentioned to me, “that is what makes a civil society”. Despite many of my rants I do agree with this principle for the most part, although it does seem rather weird at first. When first arriving here I would start to cross the road and a car would be approaching. Sometimes the car would go as far as reversing slightly to ensure that you had enough space. Yes, you heard me.

Automatically reversing cars is one example of Canadians being considerate and giving you your personal space, here’s another. After the first eight months or so I remember making friends with a great guy called Conrad. His parents were visiting from New Brunswick and the five of us (Conrad’s wife included) were off to go eat at a Chinese restaurant. We had all done at least 30 km cycling around the city that day. We’re walking on the side walk towards our chosen restaurant, the and dance of gentlemen was about to ignite.

For some reason I reach the door first and hold it open for the masses. Conrad’s parents and his wife accept my gesture and shuffle passed. When he gets towards the door he gestures for me to go first. I tilt my head slightly and do a similar no-after-you motion with my free hand. This is paying the price of chivalry. It is the dance of gentlemen. The reason you do it is because if you end up being the last person to enter the building, you win! If you’re lucky a small flicker of colonial pride may kindle in your eyes for a second.

It’s silly and stupid. Perhaps even pathetic. I’m sure if you’re a man you’ve found yourself doing the same dance. I’ve found myself doing this a lot more in Canada where manners, aren’t merely nice-to-have but are expected. You know what? I think I like it…especially if I’m the last guy with trundles into the pub with pride.

 

PhilosopherPoet

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poetry

hatch

a chaos hatches inside
our hearts
somber stutters
vacant murmurs
breed in the silence
we called decay

a chaos hatches inside
our laughs
saucy giggles
mouthfuls multiply
and our eyes eclipse
an inner demon

a chaos hatches inside
our masks
adjusted idioms
scamper through
the cage of our banter

a chaos hatches inside
my heart
a gentle ghost
dances in the shot glass

tonight he stares into
primordial patterns
and
cold corpuscles
vibrate through
an old chamber
where the conscious
lie buried

PhilosopherPoet

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Rantings

Riding on lightning

For a long while I have been riding a motorbike without a license. Shocking, huh? Not to me. I failed that simple test so many times part of me said screw the system and I flung myself onto that iron horse and rode for a good few months. I went everywhere while secretly knowing I wasn’t wearing the badge that said I knew what I was doing. Time went by and there were a few bumps in the road. The short story is I landed up in an accident and now I decided, my pony lies in the garage until I’m official.

One problem. I still have the keys. (Once a week or so I sneak a little ride in when no one is really paying attention.) Today when I hurtled out the front door this morning, I had to restrain my hand reaching for the keys. This made me stop and think, perhaps I’m the urban version of a recovering alcoholic. The bike sits there, collecting dust. It sits there collecting dust…that’s it. No rider to nurture it in the howling wind, or the regular glug of fuel into its petrol tank. Only the empty garage to hold it, and the lonely key swinging from its lanyard in the kitchen.

You might say to me, “Well, it is just a machine, you don’t need to get bleary-eyed over the whole saga”. Sad, yes perhaps…but fascinating. I can now imagine a middle aged drink walking the same arduous route to work. Gazing at the gleam, and haunting glisten of new bottles, standing out like polished soldiers. I know what it’s like to pause in front of the shop (much like I did), and carry on walking. It’s difficult and slow.

I’ve had a drinking problem in the past. Many people do, but this time it feels different. There’s just me, the bike, and the ominous garage. That’s it.

PhilosopherPoet

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Thoughts

The banishment of inner vagrants

Change is imminent, even Death and Hotel Sex. What is far beyond the aforementioned is getting off your ass, which I have decided to do. There were a few recent events which involved me at my local pub pissing off many of the locals, due to the fact I was pretty drunk. I could have gone back the following night, to face the angry mob, and arrived back at work the next day with half a face and zero pride, but luckily I had friends to convince me otherwise.

 

I decided to take a personal stand about this. I’m giving up alcohol. Not in the beat-my-wife-harder-cos-I’m-sober kind of way. It’s more like a hiatus of sorts. I’ve given myself three months of sobriety to wade through. I’ve decided it’s time to make some changes. After all too many times conversations are started through a bubbly haze in my current watering hole.

 

In fact it’s time I cleaned up my body in general. Fortunately I not a smoker so my lungs are (for the most part) still healthy and happy, it’s my thinking that needs to change. I made this decision yesterday while I was functioning on a the amount of tranquilizers that gave me the presence of a Guru, and the speech of a half-out-the-bed brainiac.

 

If anything it’s far more efficient than a decision made after 5 liters of beer. It’s kind of scary to see that I’ve slowly seeped into the pub life, and the fact that drinking 3-4 times a week is the norm and kinda groovy. Everyone would like a few drinks in them before they ask someone on a date, crack a good joke, or just fool around in general.

 

It’s fucking difficult to catch those plethora of skills, and turn them around to face you. So I’m faced with a pretty daunting challenge now, local pub life and endless yammering is out of the question…so where to from here?

 

Tons of places really, I’ve already considered camping out at my local botanical gardens, with three volumes of poetry wedged into my arm pits. Maybe I’ll even wonder around the harbor, and fight off the conspiring seagulls and their allies. So I’m elated, frightened hesitant, and expectant of greater events, more interesting people that deserve investigation.

 

 

PhilosopherPoet

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poetry

dreams

tonight i watch the man with the baton
rinse his thoughts in the wind.
he scuttles back and forth
like pinocchio pinned to
a coat hanger

his brain is riddled with the
thick worms of LSD
he ducks and weaves through
angry stars who
navigate his narration

it is midnight he snorts
twirls skips collides
between the cars
buttoned down
to the tarmac

i am drunk he is high
i laugh out amid my
necklace of friends
because tonight is about
the company of lunatics
and the naked foibles they fill

right up until the alarm clock
the next morning that drums
like a siren into your head
it watches the  mixture of memories
and nocturnal music
crawl into my bones

PhilosopherPoet
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poetry

surfaces

he pours velvet feelings
into her head
naturally she giggles
and slides under the
chocolate cloak of emotion

he uses coffee bars
twice a week
to feel alive
read the electric events
in the news
polish his blonde bauble
until he starts to see
more of himself in the
intense reflection

she guffaws
at his plastic punchlines
muffin crumbs crawl into the
painted veins of her jeans

she uses vodka
twice an evening
to silence
the babbling of the
television
a wilted cigarette squeezed
into her paper fingers

tonight she fucked
with first date adrenaline
tingling in her thighs

he thought it went well
for such a small hotel bed
and those naive notions of love
echoing out of her anxious eyes

you have to play women like cards
he told me
the liquid apathy punched out
paragraphs into the tender air
you pick one up then throw it away

 

PhilosopherPoet

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