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A survey of the urban landscape and its wacky wacky inhabitants.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Wayne is for Wieners.

The other day I had the real pleasure of driving to Wayne, Alberta.
Wayne, stuck deep in the heart of Alberta's Badlands--great devourer of dinosaurs--is one of those places that takes some doin' to get to. One must traverse the quaint "Road of 11 Bridges", all which are single lane, all of which are wooden-decked. It truly is a lovely drive, ripe with run-down trailer homes and abandoned vehicles that act as trophies to the excess of the 1950's and 60's auto design. At the end of this 11 bridged road is, of course, the Hamlet of Wayne, and the aptly-named "Last Chance Saloon", which could even more aptly be named "The First, Last, and Only Chance Saloon", for it truly lies in the middle of nowhere. . . safely out of reach of the World's Largest Dinosaur in Drumheller.
As I rolled in to the Last Chance Saloon, the brilliance of my green vehicle was not lost on some locals sitting outside having a smoke; neither was the fact that I'm clearly a beer salesman. . . an animal I think is even rarer in these parts than the thick-headed Pachycephalosaurus. . . though, as I would come to realise, thick-headed decedents clearly still roam. At least one.

An old-timer with fewer teeth than fingers bid me welcome, then quickly proceeded to bid me give him some beer. This is not a habit exclusive to Wayners; I've been flagged down by folks on the side of the road to ask me not for assistance, but for free beer. I've developed 101 different ways to laugh them off--and this time it was easy.

B- "I'm calling on the Innkeeper, and the last thing I want to do is start pedaling free beer in the parking lot and undercutting his business. I'll tell you what--make an appeal to him if you want to get your hot little hands on one of these freebies."
O- "Awww! Is it any good?"
B- "Now what kind of a salesman would I be if I told you it wasn't?"
O- "Haw haw haw haw!"
B- "It just so happens that I can tell you it's exceptional and still have a place saved for me in Heaven."
O- "She sure looks good! Maybe you could just sneak me one?"
B- "Not a chance! I'm willing to bet everyone in the bar is watching us--I mean, I did pull up in a bright green truck. I'll give you a church key this same green for you to remember me by, though."
O- "You a redneck?"

This kinda caught me unawares. I'm used to guys pushing their luck for free beer until I walk out of earshot. Perhaps, I thought, he was trying to buddy-buddy his way into my beer tickle trunk.

B- "Well. . . . I grew up in a pretty small town in Southwestern Ontario that wasn't renowned for its liberal ideas."
O- "Then come on over! I've got a xeroxed page of nigger jokes and redneck jokes for ya! You'll love'em!"

Then he started to laugh, either because he was thinking fondly of the jokes on the page, or because the barium discharged from the local coal mines into the water had driven him insane. I half-heartedly laughed and told him that my boss would kill me if I sat around looking at jokes all day.

Inside the sales call went smooth as could be expected for a place that serves primarily the OV crowd. But I wasn't getting out the door without another close encounter with the locals. . . this time, in the washroom.

To say that this washroom was the size of your average phone booth, outfitted with a sink, two urinals, and a toilet, would not evoke the aroma; for that, I would have to say, "The washroom was no bigger than a phone booth that, on thursday nights, doubled as a change room for the local Junior D hockey team".

As I bellied up to the urinal and let loose the fluid cargo three coffees and a 90 minute drive had amassed, I no sooner wondered what it would be like if someone else were to join me in the pause that refreshes (as my father used to say) when I had my answer. One of the 7 locals on hand decided (likely knowing the size of the facility) that he could wait for relief no longer and joined the 'outsider' for a whizz. Either that, or he wanted to make sure I wasn't stealing the shit tickets and climbing out the window without reading some nigger jokes and bidding adieu.

This fellow pee-er cozied up next to me. From behind, we must have looked like two sardines sitting in a tin, dressed for Halloween as those great monsters: Humans!

I have to say--and I preface this with the comment that I'm neither a homophobe, nor too queasy about my personal space--that having my arm pressed up against another man while taking a pee--indeed, having his zipping and own wiener-handling motions set my own urine steam all aflutter, is unsettling.

And then we started to talk.

P- "Well! Snow's a coming!"
B- "So I've been told by the weather man. . . but he's been known to lie like a rug."
P- "Har har! Ain't that the truth! . . . . For Sale!"

With this abrupt change in subject, I felt suddenly even more ill-at-ease. What on Earth could he possibly be selling to another man (whom he is touching) while stood at the urinal, both with bishops in hand.

P- ". . . . Last Chance Saloon. Real Estate ad over the pisser! Maybe I'll buy if I have another couple! Har har har!"
B- "Har har har!"

I tried to put myself away with as little motion as possible, not wanting the close-quarters and interference to cause my shoe to become the surrogate for his urinal. . . put the next challenge presented itself immediately. The sink was directly--and I mean DIRECTLY--beside the other urinal. . . basically at the right height to wash this other gent's balls in. I contemplated not washing my hands; but as a salesman of a type of food product, I felt this would set a bad example for Good Beer Folks attention to quality. Not that hands covered in ball sweat and a mist of urine would cause listeria; but still, not a positive thing.

Placing my hands beneath the tap, I calculated that they were now, roughly, 20 cms away from this other man's penis. Again--no disrespect to those who enjoy having their hands in this kind of proximity to another man's fleshy wand--but I didn't even know his name. A quick rinse was all they got--a "Fine afternoon!" was issued to my bathroom buddy--and I was away. Vaulted through the "dining room" and safely to my vehicle without reading the xerox of jokes, giving away any free beer (save the samples to the Innkeeper), and successfully avoiding touching another man's saber of love. My trip to Wayne, at a paltry 20 minutes, had been eventful.

Now, whenever I pee, I am overwhelmed with lonesomeness.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

That Seventies Birthday!

Today I was asked, by the bank, for my "current date of birth".

While this question may have been relevant prior to my 19th birthday, those happy carefree days and drunken nights as "R.W. Munchkin" have long since passed. Now when I've bought and drank in excess of my need, I have only "B. Goddard" to blame.

Now, if Marty McFly was an RBC customer. . . there could be an interesting conversation.
"Current date of birth? Uh. . . negative 46".

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Kiss of Luck

The other night I overheard an exchange in the alleyway behind our new condo that brought me up to speed on the territorial conflicts between waring tribes of hobos.

H1- (clattering along the alleyway, bottles and cans bouncing merrily inside his cart)
H2- "You better get outta here. . ."
H1- "What?"
H2- "You better get outta here--this is Lucky's territory!"
H1- "It--"
H2- "You better get outta here or Lucky'll kill you!"
H1- "I didn't know this was Lucky's territory."
H2- "Yeah? Well now yous do. And you better get out of here or Lucky'll kill you."
H1- ". . . okay okay. . . "

I can just imagine how proud my mother would be to receive a call from the police informing her that I had been killed for 45 cents worth of cans. Life well lived.

Friendly Neighbourhood Beer Givesman

I have just moved.
I left my much-loved Anglican rectory, on a street where my neighbours included a Widow who gardened, an Englishman who gardened, and a man who swore at his dogs constantly because the new owners (yes--I was a 'renter') raised the rent 85%.
Welcome to Calgary: home of delusional real estate speculators and absentee government regulators. My new home is 5 blocks away and has no gardeners, and one camouflage-motif motor home in which a couple from Nova Scotia live.
Yes.
Live.
In a motor home on the street.
What a difference 5 blocks can make, eh?

Our condo is very nice; every new little "touch" is classified by the developer as "high end". Included in his tour of "high end" finishes: the over-size buttons in the elevator, and handles on the kitchen cabinetry. Both which are nice, to be sure; but they haven't been carved from ivory or ancient wood--nor do they have big dollar signs on them like in Richie Rich's house, so my heart fails to flutter every time I clap eyes on the fixtures.

The other morning I went out to climb into my conspicuously green SW vehicle, only to meet our new neighbours across the street: hobos. Not the rail-riding, harmonica-playing Boxcar Willie hobos of yore, nor the German Shepherd variety that help children foil robbers hiding out in Cullen Gardens, but shopping cart pushing, bottle-picking hobos that seem as common in Calgary as sow bugs under a rotten log. I had been warned by our building manager that a senile old man allows several bottle-picking hobos to squat in his house; now, standing before me, was one of the aforewarned hobos, standing by my beer vehicle, shirtless, and applying deodorant. Glory glory.

H1- "Steeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeem Wha-stistle! Toot toot!"
B- "Morning."
H1- "Got any free samples of that Steeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeem Toot toot in your car there?"
B- "No."
H1- "Come on! You must have some!"
B- "Nope."
H1- "Well hell--what kinda salesman does that make you?"
B- "The kind that sells his beer and doesn't give it away."

I drove off, and he continued to apply deodorant to his other pit.

. . . but I wouldn't make it far without bumping into another garden variety douchebag: the drunk "friend" who happens to be a tradesman, and is will to work for cheap. I found just such an animal at my old rectory; he was lurking around the garage I had filled with various SW goodies.

The thing that I've learned about these individuals, having known many (and occasionally been one), is that you truly get what you pay for.

This one was a plumber. Allegedly. The only thing I could tell you at first smell is that he was drunk.

P- "Steeeeeeeeeeem Whistle!"
(I truly hate the way hobos in Calgary draw out the word Steam--they all do it the same, and the way they deliver it makes it seem like they themselves find it very clever and amusing; I've found that it simply blows more of their pestilent breath in my face)
B- "Hi!" (I'm always cheery to hobos, despite my internal monologue that reads: Punch hobo. Exit stage left.)
P- "Say. . . I've never tried that stuff--any good?"
B- "Would you believe a salesman if he told you otherwise?"
P- "Say--yeah--good point! Got any for a sample?"
B- "Nope. Beer is best kept in the refrigerator, not the trunk."
P- "Yeah, yeah! I hear that--I just wanted to try it and tell my friends to drink it."
B- "Well. . . you could still tell your friends to drink it."
P- "Got any shirts?"
B- "Nope."
P- "Hats?"
B- "Nope."
P- "I'd even take a neon sign if you had one."
B- "You would?"
P- "Sure! It's no cold beer, but it'd go great in my living room!"
B- "Don't have'em. Never have."
P- "Oh."
B- "Do you get the impression that I get asked for a lot of free stuff all day long by people?"
P- "Well--that's you're job, ain't it? Promote the Steeeeeeeeeeeeem Whistle with free stuff?"
B- "No. It isn't. That's the Beer Giveawayman's job; I sell things. I'm a salesman."

After some more pleasantries my new ex-landlord beckoned me in to show me the wonders of cheap plumbing. I had seen what lay behind the walls prior to all the fancy new copper that now hung before me in a great network of pipes, and I had to admit that it did look good. It did. . . until my new pal, Economy Plumber, turned on the hot water. Then it looked like a scene from Das Boot. My earlier cheek was rewarded with a blast to the face of hot water, which issued from a pipe in the wall. As i later found out, after a "professional assessment", the hot water line running directly from the hot water heater had been cut straight through with no . . . but I'm getting ahead of myself. I'll let the plumber lend his voice of experience to this transcript.

L- "Shut the fuck'ing water off, man! She leaking like crazy in here!"
P- "What? Leaking?"
B- Glub Glub Glub!
L- "I tellin' you, shut dat water off--it's a fucking mess!"

(my new ex-landlord is French Canadian)

The plumber actually came to look, and stepped right in my way as I was trying to retreat from the royal soaking I was getting.

P- "Shit! It's leakin' like a horse's cock!"

(It's a new expression to me as well)

After the water got shut off, and my new ex-landlord stood steeeeeeeeeeeeeeming, the plumber looked at the pipe--a pipe that was clearly cut in half--and said, "Well hell! That pipe's cut!"

Bang a gong.

Then he said, as if to reassure us, "No problem! That's a fucking mess--but no problem. Easy. Fix it right up." With that he left for another smoke break and a can of brain food in the form of Mountain Crest Lager.

You get what you pay for--and I guarantee that if you paid this piece of work a nickel to kick you in the ass, he'd only give you a 3 cent ass kicking. That's just the kind of operator he is--the friend whose a tradesman and will do it for cheap and drink on the job kind of operator.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Marcel Justgeau!

I like to dress myself up.
Not to the nines--just nicely--and I do so frequently. What's "just nicely" entail?
I'm glad you asked.
On this particularly evening it bears an explicit description of my attire so that the court of public opinion can weigh in with an educated viewpoint--either in support, or in condemnation.
So, to put a fine point on it, I was in a charcoal cardigan, with charcoal wool trousers, a crimson narrow tie on a white collared shirt, with a grey short-brimmed fedora and red black and white Adidas. Spiff, if I do say so myself.

So while I was waiting in line at the parking ticket meter with several other Calgarians anxious for their Friday night to get underway, I was feeling like I had the world by the tail. Until. . .

. . . there were two hobos perched beneath the meter, and with each new parking customer one of the gents was engaging them in a bit of polite smalltalk, which inevitably turned into a solicitation of money for "coffee". When my turn came, the hobo blinked at me, and I could see the wheels turning behind his eyes.

H- "You look like one of them. . . one of them mimes."
B- "Pardon me?"
H- "You look like one of them mimes."
B- (pause)"Geez--you're a real sweet talker, ain't ya?"
H- "It's a compliment!"
B- "Then you must have a completely different opinion of mimes than I do!"
H- "What?"
B- "The world hates mimes."

With that, I strode off, having entertained the line behind me--and no doubt garnered their silent support for my position on mimes.
A Marine (his car plate read "Marine" and he had a giant "Semper Fi!" sticker on his back window), who had been immediately behind me in line, asked me when I would be performing next. I told him that when I wasn't wearing my white gloves, I was off-duty.

Friendly advice to anyone: never compliment someone by drawing comparisons between the Complimentee and:
1) A mime;
2) Hitler;
3) Goose shit.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Betty Jubilee!

Poor, poor Betty!
The indignities she suffered at Calgary's Beerfest were too numerous to mention. Her beauty, lost amidst the haze of beer goggles worn by Friday night's horde of revelers, led to her gas cap being stolen and someone generously feeding her beer (via the open gas tank).

Now--Betty's not so genteel as to deny herself a drink now and then--so the small sample of beer in the tank (and maybe some curry chicken, I don't know) had little effect; engines from her era can blow through almost anything. What was truly inconvenient, was the gas that gurgled out of her when the ignition was engaged. Gas that bubbled and spewed with every engine rev. Gas that I inadvertently deposited all the way down Macleod Trail on my way to Canadian Tire to purchase a new gas cap. Gas whose collected vapors in the cab created a nice warm glow within me as I drove. Which is perhaps why the following exchange took place (but imagine it all yelled over the din of wind, moving at 60kms/h):

B- (singing joyously along with the radio--likely to Gowan)
A Civic pulls up alongside Betty, at cruising speed, a passenger's head out the window.
C- "Hey! Hey! There's gas coming out of your truck!"
B- "I know! I'm doing a stunt! I'm going to light it on fire!"
C- (a look of obvious concern and surprise)
B- "I'm kidding! Someone stole my gas cap! I'm going for a new one!"
C- (no response--still kind of uncertain)

That's the last time I try to be funny about leaving a trail of flames down a highway.

Maybe the second last time.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Horatio-ring.

After my bout of laundry-generating digestive disobedience I drafted a letter to the corporate head office I felt was responsible and voiced my concern for the cleanliness in one of their franchise locations. I didn't really want anything more than an "I'm sorry to hear about your shits without giggles--we'll give that kitchen some elbow grease and get'er back to 'like new' condition"--which is what I fully expected would happen.

Days turned to a week or so, and nothing.

In the meantime, the Manager of the Edmonton Coast Plaza (whom I wrote immediately following my letter to the offending restaurant so that I could heap praise on him and his crew for a series of terrific experiences I have had staying with them) responded to my email in under an hour. The Coast Plaza in Edmonton is class all the way.

Then, one evening my phone buzzed to life. Lo and behold--and Edmonton number! And you'll never guess who it was.
The Capital City Health Unit.
Wow.

The fella I got was a case study in nervous telephone mannerisms, which is why I am willing to cut him some slack in this following exchange:

H- "So, Mr. Goddard--"
B- "Brad is fine."
H- ". . .oh. . . okay--Brad. Brad, you experienced some diarrhea recently after eating at R----'s?"
B- "I actually had some diarrhea and vomiting."
H- "Oh!"
B- "At the same time."
H- "Oh!"
B- "Yeah. It was pretty wild there for a while."
H- "Oh! Sounds serious."
B- "Yeah--I didn't know which end to aim at the toilet. Hahaha."
H- "Oh. Uh. . . did you--I mean--did you go and take a stool sample at a clinic or hospital?"
B- "Nope. I rode it out. When things settled down the next morning, I stopped thinking I was going to die and sat down with a flat ginger ale and watched Coronation Street."
H- "Oh. So no stool sample, huh?"
B- "No--but if you have some forensic guys, I could give you my underpants. Their blue light would definitely find something; I had a bit of an accident."
H- "Oh--we don't have the resources for that type of thing."

My best joke in the food poisoning arsenal, and that's his comeback? Not enough resources?
I didn't know if I should tell him that I was kidding, or that I would write a letter to my MLA requesting funds for a CSI: Capital City Health Department to process dirty trousers.

At the end of the conversation, H determined inconclusively (because I hadn't pooped in a cup) that judging by the timeline and symptoms it sounded like food poisoning. I told him that his professional opinion made me feel much better.
I was joking again.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

How Many Angels Can Dance on the Head of a Pin. . . worm?

Emboldened by reader enthusiasm for my personal misfortunes (ie. shitting and barfing my own trousers), I now feel comfortable enough to share something that, until now, I have harbored as a dark secret. A dark, dirty little secret.

Before I start, let me make one thing perfectly clear: I wash my hands frequently.

To my knowledge, I have never played host to small animals--and by this I mean, I have never had lice, worms, fleas, ticks, or any of the other various and sundry parasites that often afflict children and the very dirty. This was because I, by most accounts, was a tidy child. I didn't even like to play with my G.I. Joes outside, for fear of getting them dirty. In fact, the responsibility of any rough-and-tumble G.I. Joe-ing in the flower bed fell squarely on the shoulders of Recondo (Daniel M. LeClaire to the payroll department; Danny to his mother)--for C and I had found him in a sandbox, and had little respect for his already grubby appearance (don't let that winsome smile fool you--he's as dirty as they come).



And we even washed Recondo after his flower bed adventures, even though we didn't respect him--because we were meticulously clean, and we wanted things to stay that way. This is likely why the only sports I excelled at were bowling, shuffleboard, lawn darts, and debating.

Fast forward several years, and I saw myself as still relatively clean--only now occasionally sporting a mustache like Recondo's. Unfortunately, the 'stache was not the only thing I had in common with my little buddy. There was more than met the eye--I was also dirty. Dirty like the lost-and-found Recondo. Dirty like the wolf.

No wait: the wolf is hungry. I was dirty like. . . the dog.
The dog that rolls in shit when you're dog-sitting for a friend, forcing you to wash him before letting him back in your house (all the while swearing you'll never dog-sit again, and hoping that your friends bring you back a big bottle of duty-free booze). But I wasn't so obviously dirty. I was secretly dirty.
And not the secretly dirty that everyone else is, wanting to be tied down and stuff.
Secretly dirty like a filthy schoolyard child, or a hobo. . . or a lost-and-found Recondo. . . which is, I guess, where I started.

I'm dragging my heels telling you this next part, because things really take a turn for the worse . . . of my ego.

Lying in bed, not long ago, I felt an itch in my anus. Not your average, run-of-the-mill sphincter itch either; a desperate, insistent itch. An itch so urgent, that I couldn't sleep. With it also came an unsettling sensation of crawling.

I itched, and itched, and itched; but each time I stopped itching and returned to bed, the itch returned. And so did the crawling sensation.
Yes. I finally stood on the tub and examined by anus in the vanity mirror, fearful of what I might see. All I saw, however, was my pert little Ewok ass, and nothing more. Well, not nothing more--I saw the choda, my thighs, and other things--but nothing crawling. Thank Christ.

Somewhere around 4am I fell into a fitful sleep, and dreamt of a time when my ass didn't itch.

All the following day I felt fantastic--save the fatigue from lack of sleep--and maybe even did a little skipping to relish the quiet that had fallen over my anus. The itch was behind me! (yes. A pun. Hardy-har-har)

Or so I thought.

Exit light; enter night.
Take my hand--off to itchy anus land.

This time, the itch was so all-consuming, so intensely distracting, that I actually thought I might lose my mind. It sounds like I'm exaggerating, but I'm not. Unlike other itches that you can't scratch, or itches that are tolerable for seven years, this one was notably unpleasant.

Just what the hell was wrong with me, I didn't not know. Out of desperation, I put my faith in Google.
After washing my hands, I typed in "itchy anus night", favouring a direct query over something more eloquently worded. It was clear, within minutes, that I had pinworms. Little mother fuckers.

Knowing thy enemy is key, and now that I had a name, and a somewhat unpleasant face, I was ready to Jon Rambo the little jerks. After getting the name "Combantrin"--which seemed close enough to the word "Combat" for me to trust that it would get the job done, I called the closest Shoppers to see if they had it. I am loath to admit that, over the phone, I told a white lie without being asked:

B- "Do you have Combantrin, for pinworm treatment?"
S- "Let me check--yes, we do."
B- "I need it for my son--I think he has pinworms."
S- "Oh. Okay. Well, we have it."
B- "Great! You're open to midnight?"
S- "Yes."
B- "I've got a half an hour--see you soon!"
S- "Okay. Bye."
B- "Bye! . . . . . . my son will be very grateful."

Braving a pretty serious snow storm behind the wheel of Betty, I raced with all deliberate speed towards my local Shoppers, blood lust steeling my nerves against the weather.



Smile all you want, you little bastard! You're about to go meet your Maker--and I sure as hell hope it isn't the same guy who made me, because I'll be some pissed off if miserable little bastards like pinworms get into heaven.

Because of my size, relative to the average Combantrin consumer (dirty children), I had to eat half the box. That night, though uncomfortable as I was, I slept well--the screams of pinworms acting as my lullaby.

Open letter to any and all pinworms with big enough balls to take on my anus again: I still have half a box of Combantrin, so bring it, bitches! I will send you straight to hell--on the express train I like to call, My Morning Dump. In the words of Iron Mike Tyson, I will eat your children!

You know, I almost immediately regretted writing that; it was likely eating their children that got me sick in the first place.

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