The crowd is mostly silent as I watch my opponent from two feet away. The (somewhat generously titled) referee makes a joke, says “ready” and we each raise a fist. I’m a competitive bastard at the best of times and I right now I want to win. I’ve already beaten one opponent, I need to do it again. The ref raises his hand and yells into the microphone “ROCK, PAPER…” they trade the name of the bar, Beaver, for SCISSORS and we players reveal our choices. Best three out of five, and I win the first game. We repeat the process and after a few tries I take the second game, though our ref announces it to be one-one. “What?” I have time to think but not say because we’re already into the third. It’s longer than the first game but shorter than the second and I win it regardless. The referee says two-one, his associate says that I’ve just made a three game sweep. My opponent seems to agree. There’s a moment of quiet confusion, then I raise my hands regardless and cheer for my victory. Eventually everyone else runs with it and I shake hands with my opponent. I’ve made it through the first round, fought through a ‘threesome’ where everyone else only had to beat one opponent. I get a shot for my sweep win, tequila and Tabasco sauce. It tastes like victory.
It doesn’t seem to be getting any warmer, but at least the past fortnight or so has been sunnier. I’ve got a job now, and the patio’s been opened up to allow the still warmly dressed locals and occasional tourist the chance to have a beer and burger beneath a smiling sky. One customer made a comment about the risk of sun burns, and I had to bite down on my urge to check my phone for some holiday photos while growling “That’s not a sunburn…”
I might be imagining it but there seems to be fewer beggars and more buskers out on the street, though maybe that’s simply because I’m noticing more of the homeless singing for their supper (metaphorically and literally). Everyone’s an artist, or at least think they are. There’s a half-finished chalk drawing of Christ on the Cross, ironically ugly as sin in its incomplete glory, on a corner near Granville Skytrain* station. I wonder if the guy was chased off, got bored and went to a different corner, or simply thought it was done. For a few days in a row there was homeless guy strumming away on an old guitar also near the station. Every time I walked by he was playing the same tuneless melody, into which he’d ram the lyrics of different songs with a few nonsensical flourishes. His covers of Folsom Prison Blues and Sunday Bloody Sunday were particularly notable. Some of the people on the street playing guitars or selling sketches are genuinely talented and seem to have a regular, established place along the side walk. Others you see once or twice then never again.
Side note, I saw a girl wrapped in a blanket with a cardboard sign asking for spare change. Young girl, early twenties at most. Thing is she had amazing hair. Long, thick, silky, a little wavy and nicely coloured (bronze blonde layered over rose). The kind of hair that random strangers must just start brushing their fingers through. Just thought I’d mention that.
The toilets still bother me. It shouldn’t be this hard to take a quiet piss and some of them still don’t carry everything down the pipe. The cars don’t so much anymore. I don’t know if I mentioned it last time, but the fact that most pedestrian lights don’t make a sound is a bit irritating. Aside from how easy it is to look away for a few moments then look back to realise you’ve missed the white walking man and are already onto the flashing red hand, I can’t help but wonder what blind people do when they’re trying to cross the road. Something else that’s grabbed my attention has been the birds. The seagulls are substantially larger here, and there aren’t Indian Mynas scrapping for territory with magpies and lorikeets. The big difference has been the crows, loud, mean and jet black, but more easily frightened than the dumpster diving Australian White Ibis back home.
I’ve worked a lot of shifts lately, and I haven’t had as much time to do as many fun things as I’d have liked. It’s been indicated that as summer approaches and more people get hired the number of shifts will be reduced. I’ve still managed to head out on occasion, a whiskey bar on Commercial Drive or a seafood restaurant on Granville Island. The above mentioned game of Rock, Paper, Scissors. I won the second round, against my German housemate who I’d gone to the bar with. Lost in the quarter finals to a Californian. There was a bit of mockery from the guys running and I played along, swearing back merrily. At the end of the night I was surprised when they thanked me for being a good sport, though I then realised that there were likely more than a few people who’d take their ribbing far too seriously.
There are other things I still need to find the time to do. Go and see a hockey match (not hard, the Cannucks seem to play at least one local game a week), find some baklava in Northern Vancouver. Check out a bit more of the night life. Generally meet more people. Thankfully Vancouver is a very liveable city, and as the days get longer it should become easier to have a proper life outside of work. After all that’s why I’m here.
*Can I take a moment of your time to note how pretentious it is to call it a Skytrain? ‘Cause it’s pretty fuckin’ pretentious.