Thursday, April 2, 2009

This Crazy Canuck’s Canadian Conquest, Part 2

Despite having stayed up so late, through the power of my magnificence (well, maybe jet lag) I was able to get up early enough to run errands. First I got a physical with an English speaking doctor, got blood work done, then went to meet up with my Uncle Francis, who coincidentally had the day off. We went to Houston’s, my old Wednesday-Wings-Night stomping grounds. It wasn’t Wednesday yet, so we had my other favourite, spaghetti pizza and dry ribs; great food, great company. Again with my smaller stomach, not much of an impact was made on the food even though I had fasted for 12 hours or so for the blood work. We both wanted to meet up again, but this was the one time I double booked for Sunday night and I ended up canceling. I’m glad we still got to meet and catch up when we did though. He graduated, and now has a job he doesn’t despise like before; I’m extremely happy for him.

That afternoon I went to get a booster immunization for tetanus. While I was there, we got to talking about the countries I’ve been to. She ran off some papers about health risks and shots I could take accordingly. Admittedly I’ve already been to those countries and I seemed to have made it out alright, but some of the effects of risks in those areas (ie brain damage and death) were a bit hard to ignore. Risks of contraction went up largely from eating local food, which scared me a bit because that what I like to eat the most in these countries! Also I picked up some other shots that have since become standard at the schools and stuff here, or shots that were bundled together; like protection against whooping cough with the tetanus.

In the end, my health is important to me and I hold immunization in a very favorable position. ‘Don’t get this horrible sickness forever? Sign me up!’ 3 needles, a thing of pills, and $340 later, I can now stuff various life threatening things in me, and still be able to chop wood, bench press cars, eat glass and other manly things without slowing down. This took over an hour with all the questions and discussion, so it was unfortunate I couldn’t make it to the mall to meet up with my good friend Chris. We’d have to do it another day, as Melissa was calling me, wondering where her car was. (It’s got some testosterone! I really enjoyed driving around on roads that don’t suck; Canada is so lucky)

I went home and had mom’s cream chicken made from yesterday’s roast for supper. During the meal Melissa’s friend Dianne kept calling about going to McNally’s, an Irish bar, and how it was getting crowded. She bought some passes for Melissa, John and I. I guess the siblings were going out on the town to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day together. We made a quick run to the Liquor Store, and I perused the isles. It was so nice to see Canadian Beer everywhere; I picked up some 6 packs to bring back to Japan with me. Surprisingly I went looking for the imported section too, but it has sadly been removed since I’ve been gone. I was curious if you could get Japanese, or more deliciously, Korean beer here. I need to go back to Korea again.

Once we were back, Melissa got her pre-drinking in order. She pounded half a mickey in maybe half an hour, and used her powers of math to justify her sporadic binge drinking. “I just had 6 shots. Times that by $5, that’s how much money I saved!” She then proceeded to “save more money” by topping her cup again with more hard liquor. I thought alcoholics made different excuses for their vice other than “I’m saving money this way” as she proceeded to dump liquid in her mouth. Each to their own I guess. We had to get going and she wanted to finish it in the car. In Japan it’s double stupid to have open alcohol in a vehicle, but I guess you can’t get deported from Canada for doing that. Either way we made her finish it before she got in.

When we got there, Dianna and another girlfriend of Melissa’s came out to greet us. One of the girls suddenly had to pee but couldn’t wait to get inside. So there we were, in the parking lot, while it’s still sunny, 10 feet from the door to get in, and one of the girls whips down her pants to colour the ice while the other two girls danced around to “draw attention away” from white/blue ice turning yellow nearby. I think those two only just drew more attention to it, as cars rolling by would slow down. John laughed nervously, and I pulled out my camera and performed my “I’m a tourist” routine. Girls will be girls I guess.

When the damage was done, less than a minute later we were inside, and I think one person in the group used the bathroom in the place but I don’t remember. We sat down, ordered some beers, and maybe 5 minutes later some wanker went up to John and propositioned him:

Wanker: “Hey man, want some… ‘E’…?” (insert sleazy sounding voice)
John: “Uh, E?”
Wanker: “you know… Ecstasy?”
John: “Oh! Uh, no thanks.” Waves his hand ‘no’ casually.
Me, after he walked away: “Wow, Regina has changed!”

John said that was the first time it’s ever happened to him, so I shouldn’t be too weirded out hard drugs were going around like that. But ya, that St. Patty’s party was a good time. They had live bands with bagpipes, Irish dancing, and lots of Canadian beer; it wasn’t green though :(

I actually got lots of sleep that night, and the next day, Wednesday, Melissa and I went for a Chinese food buffet with my Dad and my grandparents. It’s funny I would miss greasy buffet like that, but it’s tasty. We ate and talked for hours. It was interesting too, noticing to myself how I’ve changed with how I talk and such with family members. For example I asked my Grandpa if he’s ever been to Germany, as it surprises me sometimes how little I know about my family members concerning their past and life growing up. My Grandpa talks highly of Germany and can speak the language, but unfortunately hasn’t gone yet since coming to Canada as a child. This stuff is interesting to me, but either way I hope he gets the chance to go sometime; you don’t want to live with regrets. I know Germany is on my ‘to-see’ list for sure.

Hours later we parted ways, and I went shopping with Melissa and Kurt. It was fun being in a supermarket again and going over so many items I love and miss. Little things like some cereals or mac’ and cheese. I ended up buying $180 of groceries to take back to Japan with me. All kinds of things like instant gravy, cheese whiz, ketchup chips, and chocolates/candy for example. Most things were a dollar here, two dollars there, but I guess I sure got a lot. I also found some wild rice, which makes for a very good present I’m told. The people I’ve given it to since being back sure seemed appreciative anyways.

It was Wednesday night now, and despite still being full of Chinese, this was traditional wing night for me ;) I went to Houston’s Pizza every Wednesday before, but that crowd I went with have since moved on in life; getting married and/or moving out of Regina, so I went with family to Melissa’s choice; the Press Box. It’s like a sports lounge with many TVs all over the place. It happened to be a hockey night again, which is a common thing in Canada. Either way, surprisingly good entertainment again! Maybe I’ve taken Hockey for granted…

My Aunt Jeanette even showed up to say hello which was a nice surprise. We talked a little bit, but it was a little unfortunate the table was so rowdy with the drinking and noise level that we couldn’t really have a deep conversation. I feel a bit bad for that, but it was still good to see her. When things winded down, I went to the Matrix gaming center with Steve and Matt, and we played online video games together until Midnight. After which we went back to their house and played games again until 5 in the morning. It’s great seeing good friends again and doing stuff you love. We didn’t mean to play that late, but we were like “one more level” and “this is the end boss” and other weak excuses to snuff out the voice of reason of “go to bed”.

I slept in late, but went out for some Vietnamese noodles for lunch with Mom and Melissa. I used to eat this stuff like once a week before coming to Japan; it was still as tasty as I remember, and I used plenty of hot sauce again too! Melissa and I went shopping for a bit later, but we were both tired and not really in the mood so we didn’t buy much. I was finally able to meet up with my friend Chris though during his coffee break. We had a great chat, made plans to meet up later, then I went out for supper with my Uncle Merv, Aunt Diane, and other family that night at a nearby restaurant, “Angkor”.

Before I just thought it was a Chinese food restaurant, but after the traveling I’ve done, I now know it’s more food from Thai and surrounding areas. The pictures hanging on the wall were that of Angkor Watt, an Ancient city centered in Cambodia. I’ll need to make the trip eventually; I saw a replica model in at the huge palace in Bangkok. Being informed does strange things for your awareness. We had great food and conversation again, and I was informed to do some research into an “international MBA.” I can’t get a masters in Engineering by correspondence, but and MBA is still possible. I’ll have to give it a look-see soon enough.

That night was another odd reminder of how Regina is shut down after 9:00. I still wanted to see a movie, but alas it was not to be this night as well. I played with some ideas, talked with some friends online, but eventually decided to go with my John to a bar called JD’s for their infamous ladies night. I didn’t really want to go, but I justified it as time to bond with my older brother, and it paid off. The bar was dead so we didn’t go in, and instead just sat around and talked over burgers and root beer.

It was such a good feeling to talk with him like that, something I’ve kind of secretly longed for, perhaps for most of my life. It sure wasn’t easy growing up with him, but we’ve both come a long way since the days of him calling me nothing but “nerdy” instead of my name for years, or one of the time(s) he me made snap and I chased him around the yard with a rake, screaming bloody murder. Reflecting on it now, I’m glad I didn’t murder him for one thing, and another is I have too many stories to put here; of growing pains we suffered together, but I’m glad we can laugh about it now. Since I’ve been gone though I haven’t really been able to talk to him outside of a certain video game.

We all choose our paths in life; the trick is picking your own without regrets and without apology. Choosing means deciding. A nice change I noticed in myself when I was home was my ability to make decisions. Perhaps living alone has done that to me, perhaps other factors, but either way I’m glad I’m not nearly so apathetic and passive anymore. Melissa said to me she doesn’t think I’ve changed. While such a disheartening statement, I don’t think that’s entirely accurate. How you see the world is just a reflection of how you think of it.

Perhaps those happy, smiling, friendly Canadians were there all along; it’s strange the memories I took with me weren’t so bright. I know for a while in Japan, when anyone asked me about how Sask was, I never did have anything nice to say so I didn’t say much. I guess instead of talking about the place, I should talk about the great people instead.

Anyways, after the burgers we ended up going to the bar, which was an experience mostly as I remember. I hate making excuses for my actions so I won’t, but I didn’t really talk with many people. Instead I enjoyed some drinks, listened to how a lot of the bar music has changed (surprisingly), watched the movies playing in the background, and most importantly, just chilling with John. When it started getting late, we made our way back to the car (we didn’t drink much, don’t worry. I’m not in Japan anymore with that zero tolerance!) there was an advertisement under the windshield wiper for ‘Dancers’, Regina’s only strip club. What better way for brothers to bond? It’s legendary for being so bad, but I’ve never been before.

So there we were, second skin show I’ve ever been to in Canada. I don’t know if you can count that stuff I saw in Thailand with the razor blades and the hookers, but either way it was kinda fun. The place was pretty empty and the girls were bored so they’d just hang out and talk with you. This one girl was really interesting, she was from Winnipeg and worked in Calgary for a while, but she said the economy was hurting work there, so she came to Regina.

There were 4 girls working, but we mostly just talked with two, as one was drunk and the other one didn’t want to talk as much as she tried to solicit a dance. Funniest thing of the night was when a young group came in, obviously just having left the bar after last call. Since it’s illegal to drink and watch skin shows in Sask, they were ordering up cans of root beer, 7-up and snack foods like chips and pizza pops. So there you were, watching a dance on stage while smelling pizza pops behind you, it was pretty funny.

Good times. Perhaps manly bonding at its best.

"Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think." -From A.A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh


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