was talking to a guy the other day. He was typical prairie red-neck...too much hair and too few chances. He looked a little like me, but prettier and younger. Kind of like he’d never seen a friend die, or a way of life.
We were standing there in the middle of the street...drinking beer and passing a joint back and forth. It’s a place I’ve been most of my life. One way or another I end up out in the street with a beer in my hand.
What the ****? I’m comfortable there.....My ass against somebody else’s $30 K automobile and my mind where things might be and yapping about how things might be if the hippies had some spine and my generation had a soul.
So I was standing there with my young friend who was looking nervous because he thought we might be arrested at any second. We were illegal, after all. Civilised people don’t hang around downtown drinking craft-brewed beer and smoking dope in the middle of the street. Christ, civilised people don’t even acknowledge the uncivilised people who do things like that exist.
“Relax, dude,” I said, “we’re ripe for arrest, but you don’t get busted for drinking beer and smoking dope in downtown Winnipeg if you’re a pair of white guys who’ve taken a shower in the last week.”
“Oh man, we are going to get busted it’s the middle...”
...of the afternoon,” I said, nodding at the police car passing by, “and we’re just a couple of co-workers out here having a smoke.”
“But it’s dope! We’re smoking dope and you’re waving a beer around”
I tried again...I have much patience with the young. “No, as the bag in my pocket and the stains on my fingers can well attest to, we are having some Halvzware Shag...a wee bit of Drum. It’s like the granola of tobacco.”
The young man looked at the joint in his hand a little doubtfully, then put it to his lips, “But what about the beer?”
“What beer?” I placed my empty under the tire of the SUV I’d been leaning against. I opened another. The cops drove by again. I toasted them.
“Are you ****ing nuts?” Apparently believing that I might be vulnerable to....something.
“Watch and learn,” I took a sip, then reached down and handed him a beer from my case. I nodded at the cop car that had just passed by my pasty-white complexion. The cop car was scoping out a native couple on the street. They were sober and neat and had a couple of kids with them...a family out on an errand, no different than you or me, but they’d made the mistake of being a little too red for the local constabulary. The cop hit the lights.
“What the ****? those people weren’t doing...”
“Yes they were my friend, they were committing the worst cri...”
“But they were just walking down the street. You’re flaunting the law.”
“Yep, and generally I get persecuted...think. Why am I suddenly immune?”
My new friend quivered a bit, then hit the full Canadian denial stage. He moaned about beavers and moose and the NHL strike. I let him go on for a bit, then nudged him with my toe.
“Get it yet?”
“Not anymore,” he said. “I used to get it but now I think wolves should kill us.”
“You need to read some Farley Mowatt, dude.”
“That old hippy?”
“****in’ A, mon petit foole”
“Did you just call me a name?”
“Spelled it with an e just to piss you off too...Just like George said.”
“Carlin, not Bush”
“You’re a weird bastard.”
“You bet. It’s the only way I could figure how to not be dead.”
“Gotta another joint?”
“Sure. Gotta beer?”