Vancouver and the Tour of Death
The final leg of Ken’s and my grand adventure was Vancouver. The ship docked and since we didn’t want to drag our luggage all over the city, we opted for a bus tour that would show us the sights of Vancouver and then take us to our airport hotel. We got on the bus and set off, and that’s when the Tour of Death began. Our bus driver was called Len. His first announcement was that he was just the bus driver, not a tour guide, but he would do his best to tell us about Vancouver. Then he confided in us that he was actually a musician who had once had a record deal. “But now I’m a bus driver so that I don’t starve,” he intoned ominously. Len was apparently obsessed with the darker side of life, and the tour went something like this:
“The Vancouver Aquarium is somewhere over to the right. A couple of years ago, all the Belugas died. No one knows why. Now they have no Belugas. It’s too bad.”
“This is a nice park we’re driving through. In the spring, someone killed a lot of the Canada geese. The person was never caught. What a shame.”
“If you look to your left, you can see the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge. It’s called that because in the 50s, part of it collapsed and killed a lot of ironworkers. They actually had to get divers to bring up the bodies. Very sad.”
“We’re now driving through Stanley Park. A few years ago, there was a terrible hurricane that killed most of the trees. When I was a teenager, we used to come here and get drunk. You can’t do that now, because there aren’t enough trees for cover.”
“This part of town used to be really nice, but there’s a lot of drugs here now. Trust me, you do NOT want to know what it looks like when someone ODs on fentanyl.”
“Now we’re in Gastown. Well, New Gastown really—the original area burned to the ground in the late 1800s. That was QUITE the fire. People were just, like, burning. Oh, check out that clock tower!”
“If you look to the right, you’ll see a restaurant called ‘The Old Spaghetti Factory’. It’s haunted by the ghosts of a little boy and girl whose bodies were found in the walls. It’s a great place to go for pasta.”
“This area of the downtown is renowned for its foodtrucks. They’re all licenced so that people don’t catch some kind of infection. Do you know how many people die EVERY YEAR from food poisoning? It’s A LOT.”
“I hear that you guys saw a lot of smoke on your trip from all the forest fires. We should take a moment to remember all the animals and people who lost their lives in forest fires over the years.”
“Wow—the tour is done. I can’t believe it went by so fast. Just give me a minute though, folks—parking this bus is a blood sport.”
It was so bad that every time he started to point out a site, Ken and I would try to guess what new tragedy had happened there. A stabbing? People dying of smallpox? A small, unexpected tornado? But the best part was when he started plugging for tips: “I have two great kids—a boy and a girl. I don’t have much but I promised to take them to Disneyland when we can afford it. We have a jar on the kitchen counter that I put any extra money in, and you should see their little faces when that jar looks fuller. I tell them, ‘One day, kids, one day’….”
When he started that last story, I said to Ken, “Please tell me his children are OK!” so we were both pretty relieved that it was just a gratuitous ploy for a gratuity, one which we did not oblige him with.
I Meet Gary Numan
This past Tuesday, I got to do something I’d always wanted to do—I met Gary Numan. He’s a musician in case you didn’t know—big in the Eighties, but has consistently been putting out albums his whole career, including his latest, “Savage”, which is outstanding. He’s sixty years old now and still touring like the rock star that he is. Leading up to the Meet and Greet, I was a real wreck, because I have a LOT of anxiety about going to new places and meeting people by myself, but Ken was working and couldn’t come to Toronto. The venue was just around the corner from work, and with a lot of encouragement from my work superhero posse, The Kickboxer, J-Nine, and the French Connection, I made my way to The Phoenix Concert Hall. I was second in line with about 25 other people, and when I walked up the ramp to the stage to meet Gary, my heart felt like it was pounding out of my chest. He was wonderful and kind and very easy to talk to, and he put on an incredible show. But by the end of the whole experience, I came to a startling revelation—I AM OLD. Here’s why:
1) When I came back down the ramp, my first thought was, ‘They really need to put handrails on this thing—someone could fall!’ Also, I said it to myself in a very annoyed voice.
2) The guy who was organizing the Meet and Greet, Dave, was super-enthusiastic but he swore A LOT:
Dave: Hey Everyone! You’re looking f*cking great! So happy you could come to this f*cking thing!
Later, I had a chance to speak to Dave personally:
Dave: Toronto is a f*cking nice city!
Me: Yes. Yes, it is.
Dave: The people are so f*cking friendly!
Me: Yes. We certainly are that.
I mean, I swear A LOT myself, yet I found myself talking to Dave like I was his elderly aunt instead of saying, “You’re f*cking right it’s nice!” I found myself at one point thinking, ‘Gosh, Dave likes to swear’, and then I thought, ‘Stop being such a f*cking prude.’
3) I originally didn’t have a ticket to the show because I didn’t realize the Meet and Greet didn’t include it. When I went to the box office, the girl said, “Oh, we only have tickets left for the floor but I can put you at the side of the stage.” I was like, “Side of the stage? Excellent!” She took me to an area with chairs that was barricaded off from the rest of the floor and handed me over to the security guard, who showed me to my seat.
Me: This is great! What awesome seats!
Security Guard: Well, when we realized that the clientele for this show was a more elderly crowd and might have certain needs, we set up this special area. You’ll be safe here, and you can sit down when you get tired.
Me (thinks, then shrugs and smiles): That’s very kind of you, dear.
4) When the opening band came out, I thought the guitarist looked an awful lot like Dave. Then he stepped up to the mike and said, “Hey Toronto, how the f*ck are you?!” I smiled indulgently and said to the woman next to me, “Oh, that Dave!” Then they started to play, and the thought that immediately went through my mind was, “Wow. This is very loud.”
5) I rocked out hard when Gary Numan came on, and barely sat in my chair at all. The next morning, I woke up, got out of bed, and realized that my knees were killing me. My voice was hoarse from singing along and yelling (I may or may not have screamed “We love you Gary!!” at more than one point during the show—it was dark—nobody knew me), and I spent the day exhausted, just like the old lady that I am. But it was f*cking worth it.