It was one of those moments.
Dazed and confused in more or less the middle of Village Plaza, it was one of those moments when the best thing a guy could do would be to just sit down, gather his thoughts, remind himself of what exactly he was trying to do, and start doing it all over again. System overload: Reboot.
So naturally, I didn’t do that.
Instead, I hesitantly jerked my way first one direction then turned heel and stumbled a few steps the opposite way, like a shooting gallery target. Walk… plink… walk the other way… plink… repeat as necessary.
After a half-dozen iterations of this spastic two-step, I broke through the haze and became self-aware of the comical spectacle my indecision was creating. Instead of seizing that moment of clarity to gather whatever was left of my wits, I truncated the two-step into a herky-jerky spinning motion. Whistler’s version of a whirling Dervish. A jerky Dervish? Sounds like a sweet, meaty snack.
“Tourism Whistler paying you to be street entertainment, dude?”
The still too-familiar voice was a little less familiar than usual. The groundglass, whiskey and unfiltered cigarette edges seemed blunted. There was a lyrical quality to his words. A kinder, gentler mockery.
“Just dancin’ with indecision, J.J.,” I replied.
In a most unusual way, I was kind of glad to be bushwhacked by J.J. Geddyup, Whistler’s inveterate, underemployed, over-stimulated, chronically paranoid private eye. If anyone could make me feel like I knew what I was doing, J.J. would be that guy. Living a life that pretty much embodied disorder and uncertainty, J.J. could be relied on to be an island of chaos in a placid sea. No matter how weird my life was, J.J.’s could be counted on to be a few steps closer to Armageddon.
“I know I came to the village to do something; I just can’t remember exactly what it was,” I continued. “Good news is, while I’ve been trying to remember, I’ve thought of several other things to do. Now I’m just trying to figure out the best order to do them in.”
“I suggest we start with a planning session… over a beer,” he said in a voice that seemed way too rational, considering what a half-assed idea it was.
“A beer? It’s 9:30 in the freakin’ morning, J.J.”
“So it is. Better make it a Bloody Mary then,” he counteroffered. “I’m buyin’.”
I froze. “What did you say?” I asked.
“Better make it a Bloody Mary.”
“No, after that.”
“Yeah. That. I’ve never heard you say that before.” It was a little like taking a mild but stunning blow to the head. J.J. offering to buy a drink? The guy who purloined my beverage whenever he came within reach. The guy I’d seen swipe beers off tables when their owners left them untended to make a pit stop. It was like hearing Stephen Harper say he and Peter McKay were secretly gay lovers.
“You look like you need a drink,” he countered. “In fact, you look like you either need a couple of drinks or you’ve already had a couple.”
Stumbling to the nearest patio, he ordered two Bloody Marys. “Make that one Bloody Mary and one black coffee,” I corrected.
“Coffee this early,” he mocked. “You are confused.”
“And you’re not,” I said. “How come? Usually it’s the other way around. You’re scattered and I’m the one who knows more or less what he’s doing. In fact, you seem eerily calm.”
“I am. Calm, that is.”
“How come? How can you be calm?”
“What’s not to be calm about?”
“Oh, let’s see. There’s the price of oil. It’s getting high enough even our American cousins have mostly stopped buying SUVs and pickups. We’ll have to wait until next winter to see if they’ve stopped driving six hours to come skiing. Of course, it’s also making food more expensive, fertilizer more scarce and influencing what farmers are growing. Hey, nothing like food riots in Haiti to foreshadow the kind of chaos that might grow around the world when hunger rubs up against desperation.”
“Why worry about things you can’t do anything about?”
“Worry is doing something! Unfortunately, it’s about all I can do. I can’t do anything about the world’s only superpower being led by an idiot who’s fiddling while the economy burns. Can’t do anything about three uninspiring presidential candidates, two of whom believe eliminating the gas tax is an energy policy and one of whom is being destroyed by a crackpot preacher. Can’t do anything about Canada’s government hitching its wagon to becoming the U.S.’s energy pimp by raping a willing Alberta instead of developing any sane alternative energy policy. Can’t do anything about the wars that are raging and the ones just waiting in the wings for a spark. Can’t do anything about the Olympics turning my own home into a tarted-up party girl. Worry’s about all that’s left. How come you’re not worried? Since when did you start channeling your inner Bobby McFerrin?”
“Since I stopped caring, dude. Since I caught the wave and joined the great unwashed.”
“What the hell does that mean, J.J.?”
“Means what you don’t know won’t hurt you. Isn’t that your philosophy about skiing?”
“Not exactly. It’s what you can’t see can’t hurt you. And I only mean it ironically; kind of a skiing in the fog rationalization. But how can you not know ? How can you ignore what’s going on around you?”
“No news, no newspapers. Everything I need to know I can get off YouTube. The rest is just one big reality show. Ignorance is bliss.”
“Freedom is slavery… yada yada yada. Show me the lobotomy scar, J.J.”
“No lobotomy, dude. Just conscious choice. Look, you can get yourself all worked up about gas and war and food and politics and greed. You can get so confused you can’t remember what it was you’re doing and wind up spinning in the middle of the village like a confused cat in the middle of a freeway. You can care until you bleed. And other than making you bloody, what’s it get you? Nothing. You know what? Maybe there is no solution. Maybe the best efforts you can mount, the best plans you can make aren’t good enough. If the planet’s warming up, if the icebergs ’re meltin’, what the hell: strip down and ride the wave.”
“Seems a bit nihilistic, J.J.”
“Actually, it’s de-nihilistic. Don’t worry; be happy.”
“Well, if that’s the case, maybe a Bloody Mary at 9:30 makes all the sense in the world.”
“Nothing else does, brother.”