Wednesday, January 25, 2006

1-24-2006 -- New Year's Day

The dude on the streetcorner, one of the few people out and about on this hangover morning, was chatty and grinning. “Whaddya think about the election?” he asks me. Since I’m too tired and sore to start up a debate for kicks -- even odds, I figure, this guy’s part of the audience the Sun’s ‘We won! We won!’ editorial was meant for -- I give him the Standard Canadian Answer, which I also happen to believe: “Ah, well, a change is good, the Liberals got spanked... Harper shouldn’t be able to do much damage.

“But what,” I continued, “do you think about the idea of another campaign sometime in the next eighteen months?”

He makes this sound, like “eeeeeeeeeeeee”; a grown Western Canadian man, big guy, workin’ fella... keening. That’s damage, children; we’re hurting. Canadians love their politics, it’s true -- in large part because our politics haven’t fully degenerated into bipartisan nyah-nyah, because we still have choice rather than dilemma -- but another go-round too quick and we’ll be like those spoiled kids who get to go to Disneyland every year. Irritable little shits, confused by boredom, fucked in the head, future jerks. It’s not natural; for an election to have meaning you’ve got to want it, crave it, count off sleeps for three, four, five years.

And now it’s New Year’s Day, for real; January First had nothing on the feeling of this morning. The 11am streets feel solemn. Even the SUVs are purring respectfully. Prime Minister Stephen Harper. It’s not a disatster, you moaning hippies; it’s not a triumph, you gloating pricks... it’s just different times, and even the sun and sky feel it. Shit, it’s gotta be twelve degrees out here. My head hurts. My legs, hurt, too -- what was I running to/from/for last night? -- but I need to use them, to walk, to go get bacon and eggs. I'd heard the landlords were jacking the rent on B’s Diner, forcing that most favored of greasy-spoon cubbyholes out into the... warmth; I needed a good, old-fashioned, painful morning-after trudge to commemorate its passing.

But, hey! As it turns out, they’re not closing at all! A piece of friendly good news. Is this a taste of Harper’s Canada? Amicably re-negotiated leases and a solid economic environment where small business can thrive? That was quick. Happily, I put my head down over the Sun and the sausages (bacon, actually, but check out that alliteration) and let the night before come back to me. Something about the Oilers? Then the numbers, the numbers, the colorful numbers... a round of Southern Comfort... elected or leading... Quebec... lewd comments mumbled inappropriately into a pretty girl’s ear... “This is what democracy smells like!”

I do remember, clearly, cornering provincial NDP leader Brian Mason against the half-wall of the Dog’s front zone, grilling him about Civilization, the computer strategy game. I’d heard he was heavy into that shit. Turns out, it’s more than that -- he’s a tabletop wargamer from the Old School, I mean Avalon-Hill style. Blitzkrieg, Monte Cassino, Squad Leader, that sort of action. Is he a benevolent leader of enlightened nations, or a bloodthirsty warlord? “I launched a spaceship, once” -- Civ’s peaceful victory condition -- “but it was boring.” I don’t know whether our conversation was welcome or not -- he’s kind of a scary guy, you know? Big, pint-enveloping fists... and that moustache! -- but I know I welcomed the chance to talk about something other than the rickety Jenga stack the House was shaping up to be.

Still, this campaign was tolerable for a number of entertaining reasons. Like, the attack-ad backlash was fun... as was watching Paul Martin do a great impersonation of Jack Lemmon at the end of Glengarry Glen Ross. New Year’s Day...Year Zero... if I start a baby now, will it be done in time to qualify for the free beer and popcorn?