Sunday, April 4, 2010

True Story: Oh, Canada...

            The Vancouver Aquarium was our first destination after exchanging vows at English Bay, and it was there in the food court that we saw the thing with the crow.

           Even the Beluga whales paused to watch the spectacle, chirping like canaries as they witnessed the theft.

            At the outdoor food court a Japanese tourist turned his back on his lunch for a moment to go get some mustard or napkins or some such thing and that was all the time the crow required to swoop in.  It touched down beside his unguarded sausage, eyed it briefly before stabbing it with his beak and flapped away into the trees leaving the bun behind.

            "Maybe the bird's on Atkin's?" Brent wondered aloud.

            "If only we spoke Japanese," I lamented, "we could explain the whole thing."

            "I think he might actually be Korean," my new husband said, adding another layer of hopelessness to the situation.  Of course it’s not like I speak Japanese or Korean, but being wrong about the man’s nationality made me feel even less empowered to do anything constructive.

            We were too far away from the incident to stop the bird, and it happened too fast.  But still I was one of several who approached the man, trying to explain.

            "Yes, Canada very beautiful," he bowed.

            "He flew off with your hot dog, over that way," I added, pointing to the trees beyond the whale tank as I mimed a pair of bird wings.

             "Flap, flap," I added lamely.

            "Yes, Canada very beautiful," he bowed again, returning to his dogless bun and taking a bite.  He paused for the briefest of moments, exhibiting the international frown which means, "Where the hell is my hot dog?" but he regained his composure almost instantly, carrying on as if nothing was wrong.

            Sure he lost the meat of his lunch, but he wasn't going to allow a small detail like that get in the way.  Certainly not on a lovely day like this.

            As we watched him, I couldn’t help but think of our marriage ceremony, a few hours earlier.

            We had taken the train all the way from Oregon, after our marriage had been annulled there.

            Canada, with its socialized medicine and eerie lack of gunfire, was the perfect place to renew our vows.  The process started that morning when Diane, who would perform our ceremony, answered my phone call.

She gave a frazzled, “Hello?” while in the background, there rang out several loud, irregular smashing noises, sprinkled with some swearing.  She explained that a man had just come to her house to demolish her dining room, so she was eager to help us.

 I explained over the sounds of carnage that we wanted to be married in Canada.

            "Because gay marriage is legal here,” I shouted.

            Then she asked a variation of the awkward question that I have grown quite used to.  "Are you two…ladies?"

            "No," I replied, self – consciously deepening my voice.

            "We're guys," I added, attempting to sound less articulate, another hallmark of manhood.

            My telephone voice is shall we say, delicate, so getting mistaken for a woman was familiar territory.  However, being mistaken for a lesbian couple was new and, surprisingly thrilling.  I felt like I had been promoted.


            A petite woman with short, gray hair and a crisp demeanor, Diane met us at English Bay.  It was a "pretty" spot where, she suggested, we would be likely to round up the two required witnesses for our ceremony.

            When we arrived, I had to agree that it was the sunniest, loveliest, wind storm I had ever seen.

            Bright and lovely, we had a view of the water, as the trees whipped back and forth in the howling gale.  I supposed  it seemed calm to Diane in comparison to having her house demolished.

            We marched through what felt like a hurricane as we headed up the beach in search of our illusive witnesses.

            The first group we spotted turned out to be an MTV film crew who were racing against a deadline.

            "I'm sorry?" the buxom, bikini clad model shouted.  She pointed her pert breasts at the handsome camera man who frowned at our interruption.

            "We're kind of on a tight schedule?  I'm really sorry?  Congratulations?!" she screamed over the roaring wind.  Her blond hair whipped around her head as she settled back onto her towel in an attempt to pin it to the grass.

            Having made up our minds to suggest a strategic withdrawal, we turned towards Diane who, undaunted, had already marched further up the beach into the deafening storm.

            "Perhaps someplace where we won't get wind burn!" Brent shouted as a series of particularly loud gusts kicked up.  I wanted to agree with him but I was too horrified by what I saw to speak.

            There was Diane, at the other end of the park, sprinting towards a troop of rough, raw, manly construction workers.

           We tried to stop her, but it was like that silent film where Buster Keaton leans over into the wind at a 45 degree angle and a building falls on him.

           Before we could close the gap, she was shaking hands with Bruno and Frank from the Parks Department.  They were burly, stocky, calloused men who Diane explained, were “very interested in extending their lunch breaks by ten or fifteen minutes.”

            They both cocked their heads in mild surprise when they figured out why there was no bride present.  But any comments they made were obscured by the roaring wind.


            It was warm and sunny, but it was like getting married with a dozen, roaring freight trains as maids of honor.  I couldn't hear a word of what I imagined to be a lovely ceremony.  I just nodded and said, "I do," every time Diane's lips stopped moving. 

            Frank, the less burly of our witnesses had been commissioned to hold our video camera.  He did this the same way men hold their wives’ purses at the mall while shoes, skirts and blouses are tried on.

            “This isn’t mine.”

            Bruno on the other hand, had no camera to hide behind and maintained a serious, inscrutable face as the ceremony unfolded.  He trembled slightly with our final, "I do," and I braced myself for judgment, anger, disgust and god knows what.

            Instead, Bruno burst into tears and clasped us both in a massive bear hug.

            "You two guys," he sniffed, "you gotta remember if you get mad, just go outside and count to ten.  Okay?"

            I nodded as I gave him my handkerchief.

            Yes, it is true: Canada very beautiful.

(Original Artwork: "As The Crow Flies" by Jason Zenobia.)


  1. *sniffle*

    There's something in my eye.

  2. That's a beautiful story, and I love the accompanying artwork!

  3. I love it! "Bruno," truly was a Bruno? It adds to the overall flair and panache of the story.


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